Turtle-dragons and hairy grass

After discovering that the house helpers had been replacing some of my herbs with ornamental plants that I don’t know where they get from, and after telling them never to do that ever again (okay, I was fuming mad), I decided to inspect the garden from end to end. I might as well. I was waiting for a pot of meat to boil, I couldn’t focus on my book because it was too hot and humid, so I stepped out into the garden. I hadn’t been there more than five minutes when I felt that something was missing. My camera. Pretty soon, it wasn’t just my cameras that I had out there with me. I took the tripod out too.

So, there I was, lamenting the heat inside the house and finding how much worse it was outside. But with the cameras and the tripod, the perspiration running down my back was soon forgotten. I even got a chair to stand on to get the perfect angle and to peer closer into the camera’s eye piece.

The funny thing is, after inspecting the plants to make sure that nothing else was amiss, and after looking oh, so closely at the plants, I had more questions than answers. For instance, did you know that blades of carabao grass have fine hairs along the edges?

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I am NOT kidding.

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What do they need them for? Every part of a plant has a purpose related to its survival so what are the hairs for?

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Next, why is it that when insects bore into leaves, the edges of the holes turn a different color than the rest of the leaf? It’s almost as though the edges dry up. But why should they?

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Or, perhaps, the chlorophyll balance is upset. But why? Do insects emit some substance that results in chlorophyll loss?

casaveneracion.com white-powder

This white powdery substance on the leaves of the milflores (hydrangea) is something I’ve seen before on my basil and I’m always ever so careful to wash the leaves before throwing them into the pot just in case the powdery substance is toxic. But what is it? Fungus or insect eggs?

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Ants. Every garden has them. And I know they have a penchant for sweet things. That’s why I’m careful to wipe off sugar spills in the kitchen. Otherwise, ants come swarming in. But do ants sip nectar from flowers too? I thought only winged insects did that. I thought that the presence of ants in plants and trees has more to do with ripe or ripening fruits which they attack with gusto. But jasmine does not bear fruits, only flowers. So what the heck were black ants crawling all over the jasmine for?

After photographing the white powdery substance on the leaves of the milflores, I started inspecting the plants for buds. We have six milfores plants, planted in two huge pots and there have been no flowers for a couple of months now. They used to be such prolific bloomers (see here, here, here and here) but, lately, they’ve been lazy. So I peered between the leaves and thought I saw a bud.

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But it wasn’t a bud. It looked like a miniature turtle at first glance.

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Up close, it was something between a moth and a dragon — but small. Tiny. No longer than an inch from tip to tip. I’m sure it won’t bloom into a bouquet of flowers tomorrow or any day after that. But I am wondering if it had been eating away the buds which should explain the lack of flowers. Was there only one of this turtle-dragon (until I find out its proper name, I’m calling it a turtle-dragon)? I don’t know. I was too chicken to inspect the other parts of the milflores. I was lucky enough to be able to take photos with the lens within an inch of the thing without it flying and nipping my hand.


  1. says

    No wonder your panganay is so good at photography… kanino pa ba magmamana…you are such a great inspiration to her! And to everyone who has eyes to see your photos.

    Don’t worry, all your questions will find their answers… in time.

  2. rhodora says

    Gosh, you have “microscopic” lens! :D

    I think the ants sip the nectar from the flowers. And nectar is sweet, so that’s why.

    • Ariel says

      Hair growth on leaves is a common mechanism for reducing transpiration (evaporation of water from leaf pores). The hairs decrease air flow near the leaf surface and trap in moisture. This enhances the plant’s ability to thrive in hot environments.

      When insects chew through leaves, some leave behind toxic enzymes that could cause the whole leaf to die. Most plants have developed this survival mechanism wherein the cells around the chewed area die (hence the discolouration). This prevents the toxins from spreading and causing more damage.

  3. says

    powerful lens you have there. Turtle dragon? how about turtle flower? It does look a turtle from this angle. Nice shots as always.

  4. says

    I have a theory about that one why the edges of the holes that insects bore in leaves turn a different color, somewhat dry…maybe it could mean that the damage is limited to that area only, parang demarcation of territory. Otherwise if the hole did not have that distinct mark, then it may lead to the “demise” of some of the healthier parts of the leaves…

    What do you think? just taking a long shot…really don’t know if my arrow went somewhere near the spot! hehehe

  5. Cristy says

    I have googled some of your questions and saw this –

    Easiest and cheapest way to get rid of most leaf-eaters is to spray the plant in the morning with a mixture of water and regular old dish soap. About 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of soap per pint of water. Bugs are not fond of eating soap…..for some reason!

    Spray before the sun gets too high so you won’t have sunburn spots on the leaves.