Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Overdue Post and the Interesting Mistletoe

The mistletoe atop a lanzones tree in a house in Laguna
I actually thought of going back to blogging because last December, I went on a road trip with Mam Ime Sarmieno, botanist Ulysses Ferreras and some other companions to visit a Laguna farm.  Whenever there is an invite for a trip and I learn Ulysses will be joining, I try to as much go because it is always botanically enlightening and rewarding.  The joy is vicarious on us his companions, whenever he spots something  exciting. On this trip he found plants which aroused his interest but I would probably blog about that in another time. 

Asked the household for a branch  to examine
What I wanted to blog about last was on Uly's favorite, the native mistletoes.  I had thought that blogging about it in December was timely and appropriate since mistletoes are popularly associated  with Christmas.  But that did not happen and I am writing about the mistletoe after the new year.  Better a bit late than never at all.

We took pictures of the flowers
Uly always keeps a sharp eye out for mistletoes because they are not easy to spot.  They grow parasitic, sometimes high up on a tree.  Since we were in Laguna, the widespread species, Scurula atropurpurea, commonly preys on domesticated lanzones trees.  Once we entered lanzones country it did not take long for us to hear Uly exclaiming 'ayun meron'. And indeed the mistletoe was growing about a few meters above, on the branch of a medium sized lanzones tree found in a residential backyard. Looking at an another tree, he again spotted specimen, this time with flowers. It was high up the orchard tree and hard to photograph. We asked permission from the homeowners to get a flower and they said yes. One of our companions nimbly made his way up the lanzones branches to cut a flower stem to for us to closely examine and picture.

Uly always happy to see a mistletoe in flower
Non-remarkable flowers
The mistletoe in my opinion is not remarkable.  It does not appear to have any aesthetic appeal.  The flowers appear simple.  It will not grow in any other garden unless you have the host tree, in this case the lanzones. Thus it is rendered ornamentally useless

What probably amazes Uly is the habit and the diversity of the species native to the Philippines.  He mentioned a few other genera which now escapes my memory. I would probably learn more about them when I run into our friendly neighborhood botanist again in a future trip.

Everytime and everywhere he seem to find the romantic mistletoes.  Makes me wonder if he is looking for them or they keep on finding him (peace, Uly, hehehe).    But it is always intriguing to know that mistletoes do grow native around the diverse landscapes of the Philippines. They even grow on domesticated non-native trees like the lanzones just to survive. With Uly's zest for mistletoes we expect to learn more about them in his future researches.  

Going Back to a Habit...

The usual suspects against the Bucao backdrop
Since July 2013 there had been certain things that kept me busy. There were also changes which led me to forget certain habits.  One of them is I got too engrossed using my new Samsung phone and that led to me not opening my laptop frequently.  It allowed me to check the internet using my phone but is not conducive for certain stuff easier when a computer is used, especially blogging. Another is that because my phone (this is not a plug for my phone brand) is so versatile, it required me to bring my camera much less. Thus making-the-trips and taking pictures of the sceneries became lesser, again to the detriment of me doing less of the regular blogging. 
The Bucao is a wide river.  Even if it is shallow it will take you more than a couple of hours to cross it on foot.
Now there is a dike cum concrete road
Last weekend I went back with friends to visit Zambales and with that I thought to go back to one regular thing I enjoyed. I brought with me my camera. It reminded me of how it is such a pleasure to go out and discover new things about the Philippine counrtyside.  Eventhough it is not the first time to visit some of these places, revisiting still does not leave you with nothing to explore. 

I went back to the Bucao river valley after more than a year.  The ever changing landscape never seizes to amaze me.  Everytime I go there, the riverbed changes in profile. The white lahar-stricken scene does not appear sad and forsaken.  On the other hand it just shows and intensifies how unique this part of the country is.
The highway and the adjacent hills
I have always thought of the Bucao that grand way and it continues to dazzle me everytime I go back. It is one scene which I would probably not get tired of and worthy to get me back into the groove of blogging.  Now I bring out my computer to make my first blog in 4 months. Hopefully you guys would again be patient in waiting for my next ones and I promise to have it out the soonest.