Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shower of Orchids Vine

Shower of Orchids
Congea tomentosa
(KON-jee-a) (toh-men-TOH-suh)
Synonyms: Wooly Congea, Wooly Shower Orchid
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This plant had me totally fooled until doing some research on it. First it is actually a vine but I would have sworn it was a shrub. Second the wholly parts are actually bracts (modified leaves) and not flowers. The flowers are what is called inconspicuous and are borne in the center of the bracts. They have appeared to have gone by in this photo.

This plant is a tropical only growing in frost-free areas of USDA Zone 10-11 (35 °F and above). It is a native to Southeast Asia but has become naturalized in he warmer areas of the world including some parts of the United States (like Puerto Rico). Despite its common name it is not related to Orchids. It belongs to the Verbenaceae or Verbena family (ver-be-NAY-see-ee).

Since the Congea picture was taken on Oahu I thought I would include these two landscape photos. The first one is Chinaman’s Hat Island off the North Shore. According to Wikipedia it is actually named “Mokoliʻi” and “is a 12.5 acre, 206 foot tall basalt island one-third of a mile offshore of Kualoa Point, Oahu, in Kāne'ohe Bay, Hawaii. Geologically, it used to be connected to Oahu before erosion cut it off. It is also known as "Chinaman's Hat" for its likeness to the straw hats Chinese immigrants wore. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters are the only species of bird that nests here; previously there were a few."

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"Mokoliʻi is open to the public from dawn to dusk. On weekends it is somewhat a popular secret with tourists and locals. It can be accessed by kayak, boat, surfboard, or by swimming; depth soundings are only four feet on its west side. [1] This may be dangerous during any other time or inclement weather. The area is home to stonefish and sharks are often seen around the island, often in early mornings.”

I had read about the island before seeing it and wanted to get a picture. While pulled over on the busy highway taking this shot and having the P6000’s battery dying I turned around and saw this scene. These mountains were amazing and at the base was some sort of ranch, which was opened to tourists. There were raising fruit and vegetables and offering tour up into the fields. The fog seemed to be swirling around the tops of the peaks as we drove up the road presenting different views of the steep terrain. Imagine having that as a backyard view.

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Sheila said...

Very pretty!

Kala said...

That last shot - I would LOVE to have as my backyard view.

Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures and also the narrative. I know how time-consuming research like this can be.

P.S. I'm an Arizonan and loved seeing your picture of Cathedral Rock!

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Thanks for the comments. Kala, that would be cool, eh.