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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Flora After The Fauna!

 Well,  after the great animal debate about whether we saw a comadreja or an opossum it seems that we saw both! A comadreja is a species of opossum (There are 60 species worldwide).  It is found in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay!  La comadreja in Uruguay is it's Spanish name. There are 3 types of comadrejas in Uruguay,  colorada chica (Monodelphis dimidiata), colorada grande (Lutreolina cassicaudata), and the most common, overa (Didelphis albiventris). Although if you hit a Google translation for "La comadreja" it only says, "weasel" for that name. The scientific Latin names are in parenthesis and are different in each case. La comadreja is a rather generic term. The Overa has white ears and I think that's the one we saw. The cousin of the opossum is called a possum and it lives in Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand. The North American Virginia Opossum is colloquially called "possum" for short, hence the word misunderstanding. Click on both of the above links for more information. See how informative our blog can be!

Now for the Flora! 

This plant is commonly called, "The Swiss Cheese plant" because of the natural hole design in the leaves (also known as a split leafed Philodendron).  It was growing on the property when we bought our house but I had to dig it up so that our patio could be poured. It then sat in a plastic bag with soil for several months waiting for me to plant it somewhere. Well, I finally did and almost 3 years later, this year it surprised me by flowering! Someone once said to me that under the right conditions, everything blooms even people. So I'm guessing that I put this plant in the right spot!

The leaves of this plant are poisonous and will cause skin irritation ( handle with gloves) also causing mouth irritation, sick stomach aches and even temporary voice loss if ingested. Children and cats should be watched! Yet, the Wikipedia article I read said that sometimes Mexicans make a sort of tea out of the roots and drink it for arthritis??? I think I'll pass on that.

The plant flowering really surprised me! It is a very thick, pure white petal. It's probably not even called a petal as it's very rubbery and sheaf like. It seems to have several coming up and they are rather large.

On closer examination, the inside of the petal is embossed with the design of that huge center stamen. The interesting thing is that I had heard years ago that this plant also produces an edible fruit! The wiki. link shows that the fruit is green and cob-like (like maize). It can take up to a year to ripen. The fruit, until then, can cause stomach aches.

You will know when the fruit is getting ripe because it will produce a pungent odor, some say it's even a slightly cheesy smell! Then the scales that cover the long fruit start popping off. You can then cut it off the plant and put it in a bag to help ripen it. Why would you want to eat it? Well the flesh tastes like a cross between pineapple and mango! The texture is of pineapple others say it tastes like Jackfruit but I don't know what that tastes like. Check the above wiki link to see what the fruit will look like. So I will wait and see if my flowers produce any fruit. If so, maybe next year, I'll be able to wait and sample it.

Always something new to learn about here in Uruguay.                  


Phil said...


Alfonso said...

Wow, that's something new to me too xD I never thought that I could actually learn something reading this blog xDD I'm waiting for your new post about entomology (?) :P