Flower Friday – Bromeliad

Bromeliad - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Bromeliad – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I just love this photo of a bromeliad flower. The fiery red stem, pretty purples and pinks of the flower bases against the lime green leaves, what a gorgeous display of intense colors. Bromeliads are quite a well known plant with a huge variety of colors and sizes. The smallest one being Spanish moss, and the largest one, Queen of the Andes reaches 3 meters (almost 10 feet) tall, with a flower spike of 9-10 meters (32 feet) tall! Most of you would have at some point eaten a bromeliad…the pineapple (which will no doubt appear in a future post). Have a bright and colorful weekend everyone!

Existence

Existence - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Existence – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This Buddha head enveloped within a tangle of roots belonging to a banyan tree is one of the most recognizable images in Thailand. It is located in Wat Mahathat (a Buddhist temple ruin) in the city of Ayutthaya (the ancient capital of Siam). A temple that was built in the 14th century but later ravaged by invading Burmese which destroyed many of the Buddha statues by lopping off their heads. To me this sacred site is a symbol that even things seemingly destroyed can endure and continue to have a meaningful existence beyond the ruins they have become.

Clownfish Quirks

Clownfish Quirks - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Clownfish Quirks – Photograph by Laura Lecce

So these little fish are more amazing than I ever knew. They live amongst anemone tentacles protected by a layer of mucous that covers their body. This symbiotic relationship means that clownfish are protected from predators, and get left over scraps of food from the anemone. In exchange the clownfish drive off intruders and keep the anemone clean of parasites. Interestingly all clownfish are born male, but the largest clownfish in a group is female. If she dies, her mate increases in size and transforms into a female and subsequently mates with the next largest male. It is thought that because adult clownfish rarely stray from their homes, this evolutionary trait ensures that there is always a female and a male in the small group.

For my other post on clownfish Click here.

The Reading Chair

The Reading Chair - Art by Laura Lecce
The Reading Chair – Art by Laura Lecce

When I was a little kid, my mum used to take me to the library each week to pick out books that we would read together. For many of them I still remember the story, and I know that I will seek them out to read to my children one day. As a teenager I still loved to read, often choosing that over homework. Sadly since the start of my scientific career, I barely read for leisure anymore, there are only so many hours in a day. I do remember the excitement of curling up on the couch with a soft blanket, hot cup of tea and a brand new book. That new book smell and the crispness of the pages that sadly the next generation might not ever know. I also remember the disappointment when a great novel that I was really enjoying comes to an end. Well, I purchased a new book the other day, written by an author who publishes once a year, and each year I purchase her latest novel. I don’t want to start reading it because then it will inevitably end, so instead I am procrastinating with this painting and waiting for the perfect time to curl up with my book.

Mum and Bub Pademelon

Mum and Bub Pademelon - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Mum and Bub Pademelon – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Sorry to inundate you with such cuteness on Monday morning, but this photo was too adorable to not to share. This pademelon youngster following its mother around is about 6-8 months of age. Interestingly, mum is likely to already have another joey in the pouch. The reproductive cycle is a bit complicated, but stick with me on this. When mum gives birth to a new born (after 3 weeks gestation) the little jelly bean climbs up her tummy and into the pouch where it lives for the next 6 months. As soon as the baby is born, mum is immediately receptive to mating again. If she does and the egg is fertilized, it is put into a state of suspended animation until the current joey exits the pouch. When the pouch is vacated, the blastocyst continues to develop and the newest baby is born. It then climbs into the pouch and attaches itself to a teat for milk. The youngster outside the pouch will still put its head into the pouch for milk (where it meets its younger sibling). Even more interesting is that mum is making newborn milk for the little joey, and from a separate teat, toddler milk for the older sibling, and has a blastocyst in suspended animation as a backup. Talk about a very efficient parenting strategy!

For my other post about pademelons click here.