Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday I took possession of my ten pound two volume "Natural History of Plants..." 1894 by von Marilaun translated from the German

I bought these books at the Arboretum used book sale earlier this year without removing the bands that bound them together. They cost a bit of money so I put them away to be a birthday present! Well, yesterday it was time and I eagerly opened them. I wasn't disappointed. Basically, in about 1600 pages, Anton Kerner von Marilaun attempted to summarize the science of Botany as it stood in 1890. I'm thinking he did pretty well! They are interesting volumes with an abundance of high quality woodcuts and 16 color plates. Its great to find the plates intact as there is a worldwide problem involving razor blades, rare-book rooms, theft, and the sale of matted framed antique prints. Anyway. The top photograph is, obviously, the plate; the second picture is a transparent overlay that identifies the plants in the color plate.

Because I have such an ungodly number of plants, I guess it's not a great coincidence that one of the plants in one of the 16 color plates would be a plant on our orchid shelves, but...that's not the extent of the coincidence. Yesterday, an hour before I opened the books for the first time, I moved the Psycopsis/Oncidium papilio out into more light. I had pretty much ignored that plant for the last most or so. You can see the flowering stem in the picture, but you can't see that it's more than two feet long! The flowers, that still pop out about every month or so are quite large and I worried about wind blowing the plant over. It occurred to me to wedge it into this Sansevierea grandis for stability. It worked fine, and coincidentally enough, both have the same thick stiff leaves with the same (unusual) variegation.

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