|mo chotto matte te, ne....|
|Egretta garzetta--Little Egret (Kosagi)|
Riding home this afternoon after picking up my daughter from Kumon, I looked up to see a large, prow-shaped shadow swooping in for a landing on the power line above my head. It just slays me, for some reason, seeing enormous wading birds perched precariously on power lines...
...Kosagi came to visit this morning, too.
...fishing in amongst the now exploded cattails...
It got down cold last night--puddles froze, and water dripping from an old outdoor faucet at the temple formed an optical illusion....
I meant to go straight on home, but got distracted by the neighbor's Boke (Japanese Flowering Quince)--some of the recently opened flowers were variegated pink and white.
|Yatsuba ("eight fingers", so named for the eight-lobed leaves)|
...I turned around to go, and noticed this--a plant I've seen before without knowing what it was. And since there was no friendly O-Baasan around to tell me the name of it, I was forced to turn to Google Image search...
Aha! Yatsuba--yatsu means "eight", clearly a reference to the eight-lobed leaves...
|Fatsia japonica (Japanese Aralia)|
|Flower umbels like snowballs in fall...|
White snowball flowers bloom in late fall above large, leathery palmate leaves.
Umbels like this are characteristic of plants in both the Apiaceae family (carrots, parsley, dill, and fennel, for example) and the Araliaceae family (ivy, aralia, and fatsia)
|green onions growing out of a crack between sidewalk and wall|
...In fact, if that flower shape puts you in mind of an onion in flower, that's because onion flowers, too, are an umbel (family Alliacea).
When the flowers are done, the heads become the fruiting body--which are eventually black. The ones I saw today were still green...
Noticing the Yatsuba again without knowing its name reminded me of another mystery plant I've seen in a couple of places without having the faintest idea of what it was.
The plant to the right I noticed on my bike on the way to baseball practice--and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I screeched to a stop and gaped--what on earth? Nearly six feet tall (taller than me, anyway), and hung with puffy, green balloon-like...flowers? No--not flowers, pods. Pods with hair-like, spiky protuberances all over, and which tickled at the memory...
The crazy thing was growing right up out of a crack in the pavement.
And, again, nobody about to pester about the name of this plant, which wasn't "planted" since it was growing out of a crack in the sidewalk just outside someone's garden.
...a step even closer revealed something else...
Aphid-like (to my eyes) bugs, brightly yellow-orange against the pale spring green of the pods...
|ladybug has a field day... (nom, nom, nom)|
...the bugs were fascinating. I could hardly tear my eyes away--so I took video of them.
This completely grossed my husband out...
Inside the community center was a display of Hagaki (hand-painted postcards)-- one with the plant I had seen on the way!
Full of balloons
even now they break
and fly away
...but no mention of the name of the plant. There was no help for it--Google Image search to the rescue!
|Asclepias physocarpa--Baloonplant, or Swan Plant|
Aha--Balloonplant, a species of milkweed. That's what was nagging--those seedpods reminded me of the milkweed I used to play with in the Field as a child (only those were oblong, not round, and we only played with them after they were dried out and brown. My fingers can still feel the silk of the seeds and the smoothness of the inside of the dry pods...). And those bugs? Aphis nerii--the milkweed aphid.
I thought they were weirdly pretty--my husband, on the other hand, now thinks I'm Officially Nuts. ;-))