It's commonly called a "passion butterfly," but we call it a Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillaea) or Gulf Frit. Or "spectacular." A sure sign of...
A newly eclosed Gulf Fritillary dries its wings while a caterpillar crawls around looking for food. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This image shows a Gulf Fritillary, a chrysalis, a caterpillar and a caterpillar J'ing, about to form a chrysalis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The silver-spangled underwings of the Gulf Fritllary--in sharp contrast to the orange-reddish wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Gulf Fritillary spreads its wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Well, hello, there! Another Gulf Fritillary arrives on the scene. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What color do you think of when you hear the word October? It's a strange question, but I would guess what popped into your head is the word orange. Orange leaves, orange pumpkins, orange sweet potatoes, orange carrots, and orange persimmons.
Almost every late October a neighbor of my parents invites me to pick whatever I want from his large Hachiya persimmon tree. He likes to see the acorn-shaped fruit get eaten and not land on the ground where he has to pick it up and dump it in the green can. Years ago, his wife (now deceased), would pick the persimmons and sometimes bake cookies with them. Lucky neighbors would receive some of her labor. I usually pick about a dozen. I give some to my dad who likes to eat them just as they are. Although they are orange and look ripe, they are bitter and astringent when they are hard, so he sets them on the counter to get really soft and sweeten up. The way to tell they are ready to eat is to tug slightly on the stem/top and if it comes off easily, the fruit is ready. He then puts them in the fridge for a few hours to get really cold, peels them partially and scoops out the fruit with a spoon and eats it. They really are good this way. I also put them on the counter to ripen but my goal is to bake them into cookies. However, the softening process sometimes takes too long for the time when I want to make the cookies. My solution is to freeze the orange fruit in a plastic bag overnight, thaw it on the counter or in the fridge the next morning and voila – nearly instant, ripe and ready Hachiya persimmons. This method changes the texture and a little of the flavor, but for baking cookies, it's fine. At least, no one has complained yet.
The Otow Ranch in Granite Bay sells preserved Hachiya persimmons that have undergone the hoshigaki method. The English translation from Japanese “hoshi” means dried and “gaki” is from the word “kaki” or persimmon. Each persimmon has the skin removed and is strung by its stem and hung on a rack to dry with another persimmon hung on the opposite end of the string. The temperature has to be 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less so that the fruit doesn't mold. Every 3 to 5 days for weeks, the descendants of the original ranch owners gently massage each fruit and turn it. The fruit slowly dries and the sugar in the fruit comes to the surface, and the fruit flavor concentrates. The outside of the fruit turns white from its own sugar looking a bit like white mold. It's not moldy; it is purely the sugar from the fruit itself rising to its surface. The astringency of the fresh-picked, harder fruit is gone. The tannins that are in the fresh-picked fruit are water-soluble, so with drying they disappear. What's left is chewy, sugar-coated and delicious. Many Asian families buy hoshigaki for holiday gifts. If you are lucky enough to get them as a gift, eat them fairly quickly. If frozen individually they will last about two months. As they thaw in the fridge for 2 – 3 days, the sugar comes back to the surface again. They will last in the fridge about a month, but their scent will affect other foods in the fridge. I have seen them sold vacuum-packed elsewhere, but they still need to be frozen or refrigerated shortly after packing.
Fresh, dried or baked into a dessert, Hachiya persimmons are delicious. Just don't eat them while they are hard, or your mouth will dry and your lips will pucker!
persimmon michelle 20191
It won't be a Fright Night or a Delight Night. After all, it's in the afternoon. But the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on "Parasitoid...
Bohart Museum senior museum scientist Steve Heydon with his Pteromalids or jewel wasps. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The spotted cucumber beetle is a pest of pumpkins and other members of the cucurbits family. Here it's attacked by an assassin bug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
NATURE'S PALETTE: The Science of Plant Color
By: David Lee
I had just finished seeing the most delicious 18th art exhibit at the Norton Simon Museum in LA when I wandered into the museum shop. There, a curious book—for an art museum anyway—caught my eye…Nature's Palette: The Science of Plant Color by David Lee. To my way of thinking, the only relation to art is the notion of color in nature. Of course, now I became really curious. 15 minutes later, after being entirely fascinated, I decided to buy the book, take it home and become immersed in the wonderful world of nature's color.
The author, David Lee is a professor of Biological Science at Florida International University as well as Director of The Kampog of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Miami, FL. So, he comes with his own curiosity about what colors do for the growth of plants…and why they are swirling all about us. After he presents the basic courses in molecular chemistry, biology and optic operations, (yes, get over it and read it so you can enjoy the rest of the book!)—he's really off and running with a passion.
The chapter heads give some indication of the focus and diversity of the book with such topics as “Coloring Our Bodies With Plants; Light, Vision & Color; Leaves; Flowers; Stems & Roots; and Chlorophilia. It's in this final chapter, that he returns to his vision of a color-filled world swirling around all-around in nature—the very notion that started his journey.
Lee begins his book as a bit of an anthropologist—leading us all the way back to the times of Shanidar Neanderthal and King Tut and the influences of plants in early ceremonial lives. He demonstrates how plants and their colors have been used in commerce and trade since earliest times—from dyes and décor to today's cosmetics.
Much of Lee's scientific explorations lead him, as the Guardian states, “to describe the process as zillions of minute brews of organic dyes allowing preferred wavelengths to pass through them, strike the plant tissues, and be scattered and reflected back as colors.” In layman's terms, Lee compares the process to watercolor painting. What an elegant way to view a very complex but exquisite natural process.
You've seen honey bees buzzing past you to reach a good nectar or pollen source. But there's much more to it than that. What's in that floral nectar...
What's in store for this honey bee? It is heading for an Anisodontea sp.'Strybing Beauty.' Image taken in pollinator garden in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)