Costa Rica 2012, Part 2.

Bromeliads! Bromeliads are a type of plant. Here, I will let the Bromeliad Society International website explain them for you:

All bromeliads are composed of a spiral arrangement of leaves sometimes called a “rosette”. The bases of the leaves in the rosette may overlap tightly to form a water reservoir. This central cup also collects whatever leaf litter and insects happen to land in it.  Tank bromeliads (as the water storing species are often called) rely less heavily on their roots for nourishment and are more often found as epiphytes. The roots of epiphytic species harden off after growing to form holdfasts as strong as wire that help attach the plant to its host. Even though bromeliads are commonly called parasitos in Spanish-speaking countries, these epiphytes do not take sustenance from their host but merely use it for support. All bromeliads share a common characteristic: tiny scales on their leaves called trichomes. These scales serve as a very efficient absorption system. In species found in desert regions where the air is hot and dry and the sun beats down relentlessly, these scales also help the plant to reduce water loss and shield the plants from the solar radiation. These plants are so covered with scales that they appear silvery-white and feel fuzzy.

The most well-known bromeliad is the pineapple and the most well-known epiphyte (air plant) is the orchid. Epiphytes will attach any place they land on. Here are some epiphytes on a power line.

And here are some bromeliads scattered about growing on a horizontal branch in the forest.

We went to pineapple plantation to learn about the wonderful world of pineapples and I was taught how to choose a good pineapple in the store. It is not by sniffing it or squeezing it or poking it at its base to check for softness or tugging on its leafy crown. A good pineapple has large “eyes” in the pattern, it is shaped nicely (not pear-shaped or uneven), and the bottom part is golden-colored. I also learned that the bottom half of the pineapple is sweeter and less stalky than the top part, so save the bottom half for people you really like (or yourself). Here is a shot of the pineapple plantation that grows amazing organic pineapples. It is owned by the Collins Street Bakery in Texas, famous for having the best fruit cake in the world (their claim, not mine – I’ve never tasted their fruit cake, so I cannot judge).

They also grow ornamental pineapples. Like these cuties:

And these that I christened “tiny pineys”.

And now changing gears for a second: The Montezuma Oropendola! It’s a bird, not an ailment. A cool-looking bird, in fact.

What I loved about this bird was the amazing sound it made. It sounded like someone shaking a thick sheet of plastic. And apparently they are called “oropendola” because when they make the call, they will hang upside down from the branch for a second like a pendulum. I found a video on YouTube that kind of captures the sound and the motion. It’s way cooler in person, all tremulous and loud.

I could listen to that all day.

Check out this yard full of canna lilies being all flouncy and vibrant.

I like the way the seed pods look like unpeeled lychees.

I spent a great deal of this trip taking (or attempting to take) pictures of ferns. I’ve always loved ferns, but the second I would get them into my house, they would become very sad and die. The first day we were in Costa Rica, we went to a volcano and Cricket insisted we go on a walk. In the rainforest. 6,000 above sea level. On a mountain. This did not go well for me. At one point I wrapped my arms around a moss-covered tree trunk and whispered, “I love you, tree. I hate my boyfriend. I hate him so much. I will live with you forever. Because I’m going to die here. Right now.” At one point Cricket tried to take my pulse but it was too fast for him to count. Periodically we would stop so I could catch my breath and stare daggers at Cricket and I noticed this lovely baby fern leaf all curled up. I said, “Hey, can you take a picture of me pointing to this?” Cricket went to take the shot just as some NATURE! flew up into my eye aaaaaaaahhh nature in my eye. So now we have two lovely pictures of a curled-up fern leaf and me making low moaning noises while trying to get what turned out to be a piece of leaf out from under my eyelid.

(I’m real outdoorsy.)

I learned a neat fact about ferns. We passed some fern farms and the wee fernlets were under large tents covered in black mesh fabric. That is because ferns grow on the forest floor where 60% of the sunlight is filtered out, so the black mesh is attempting to mimic that.

Here’s a fern I saw one day that had spores on the underside of its leaves.

Here are teeny-tiny ferns growing in the rainforest.

And here’s my favorite fern photo. FERN FIST.

Other plants: a stilt root tree.

A red ginger flower. I don’t know if it tastes like ginger, but that’s what it’s called. It’s used a lot in fancy-pants flower arrangements.

And a passion flower. I’ve always known passion flowers to look like this:

But did not know they also looked like the one I saw, this one:

Birds are next. A lotta birds. Very exciting.

2 Responses to “Costa Rica 2012, Part 2.”

  1. snorth says:

    “NATURE! in my eye” I am laughing at my desk, which is probably not a good thing, but no one is here so who cares!!??
    I’m so happy you’re back!!!

  2. Gemma says:

    Waaugh! We have a bunch of this type of fun nature here in FL, if you want a closer destination….LOL 🙂 (and you are always welcome) But at the same time, it looks like super fun and I’d totally go with you next time!

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