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    • epiphyte
      By epiphyte
      Californication was a pretty good show.   But which show is the greatest?  It is, according to Richard Dawkins, evolution.   
      In this post I'm gonna use the word "Californication" to refer to the process of plants adapting to California's conditions.  Anybody who grows plants outdoors here in California participates in this process, but it is not something that we generally talk about.  
      Around a decade ago I sowed some orchid seeds on my tree and quite a few germinated...

      Last year the largest seedling bloomed for the first time...

      In this blog entry you can see pics of the largest seedling over the years.  Plus you can see a pic of the smallest seedling.  
      Some orchid seed pods contain a million seeds.  Since each seed is different, we'd expect there to be quite a bit of variation among the seeds in a single pod.  We've all heard the expression "the apple didn't fall far from the tree".   But if a million apples fall from a tree... 
      More variation means faster adaptation.  Of course I'd love to have an epiphytic orchid that doesn't require any supplemental water here in California.  Such an orchid though would essentially be capable of naturalizing in California.  
      On the one hand, in terms of traditional conservation, it is a bad thing for non-native plants to naturalize.  But on the other hand, everybody who grows non-native plants outdoors facilitates their eventual naturalization.  
      Traditional conservation is a zero-sum game.  For example, adding Aloe dichotoma to California's wilderness would result in the subtraction of Hesperoyucca whipplei.  In any case, anybody who is pro-conservation will certainly be opposed to Aloe dichotoma's naturalization.  Yet, everybody in California who grows Aloe dichotoma is helping to select for individuals that are more and more capable of naturalization.   People who grow Aloe dichotoma from seed are especially "guilty".  
      I personally haven't grown Aloe dichotoma from seed, but have grown plenty of other Aloes from seeds.  Out of all the different Aloe species and hybrids, which is the closest to being capable of naturalizing?  Every plant in California can be ranked according to how close it is to being able to naturalize.  
      Aeoniums are ranked higher than Tillandsias, but which is the highest ranked Tillandsia?  Tillandsia usneoides would seem like it should be higher ranked than Tillandsia aeranthos, but for some reason the latter volunteers for me far more than the former.  I've given away 100s of Tillandsia aeranthos volunteers over the years.  It might be my imagination but the most recent batch of volunteers seem smaller than my original plants...

      The original plants are from my friend's greenhouse where they had been volunteering for years.  They hadn't been selected for temperature or moisture, until he gave most of them to me.  Since then they've been subjected to temps below freezing and up to 116F, as well as cold wet rain and summer drought.  Plus they've probably been crossed with Tillandsia stricta, tenuifolia, bergeri and other compatible Tillandsias.
      Absent any human intervention or natural disaster, Tillandsias would have eventually made their way to California.  The same is true of Canada.  
      Here's a relevant post... Tillandsia usneoides (forms and hybrids).  Seva lives in Virginia near the edge of T. usneoides' natural distribution.  He is experimenting with growing different forms of usneoides outdoors.  It stands to reason that the non-native forms will naturally be cross-pollinated with the native forms.  Increasing the size of the gene pool should facilitate the northern expansion of the Spanish Moss.  From the perspective of the Spanish Moss this is a good thing.  But from the perspective of traditional conservation?  Traditional conservation is opposed to facilitating colonization.  Well, it is ok for birds and squirrels to help move Spanish Moss northwards, but not ok for humans to do so.  
      Today I noticed that Silas bumped my thread about Hoya/Dischidia cold tolerance.   Hoya carnosa is relatively cold tolerant and last year I sowed some seeds of it...

      One of the seedlings already has peduncles on it with buds just starting to form.  
      Here are some red Brugmansia hybrids that I grew from seed...

      I've also grown various Begonias from seed, such as Begonia umbraculifera... 

      And here are some Aeoniums that I've grown from seed (Aeonium Cyclops)...

      Easy to see the variation in colors, but not easy to see the variation in suitability to California's conditions.  
      There was only one year where I had Aeoniums volunteer in my garden.  Probably wasn't a coincidence that it was a relatively wet winter.  It is kinda surprising how much moisture succulent seeds need to germinate.  
      Tracy asked about the effectiveness of sprinkling orchid seeds.  Lots of people here in SoCal grow reed-stem Epidendrum orchids, which readily produce numerous viable seeds, which end up being sprinkled by the wind.  The seeds rarely germinate though, for the same reason that Aeoniums and Echeverias rarely volunteer... inadequate moisture.  
      If you sow reed-stem seeds on slightly moist New Zealand Sphagnum that is in a slightly open zip lock bag that is by a bright window then voila...

      The same method has worked with Bletilla striata seeds.  Guessing that it would also work with Sobralia macrantha seeds.  
      In every batch of seeds though some are going to need less moisture to germinate than others.  Variation is nature's way of hedging bets.  It is the basis of adaptation and colonization.  
      Of course I don't want every plant to colonize California.  But as it is, California isn't nearly diverse enough for me.  Not that I go around trying to directly introduce plants into the wild.  However I do certainly directly participate in a process that will eventually result in a far more diverse California.  And I'm definitely not alone!  Lots and lots of people participate in this process.  
      What do you think about Californication?  How well do you perceive the process of countless non-native plants being selected for by California's conditions?  
    • Silas_Sancona
      By Silas_Sancona
      Just saw this over on  MSN.. anyone feel it out there? 
    • PalmTreeDude
      By PalmTreeDude
      I saw a picture on Google of these palms, then I looked at them on street view, and I can't figure out what they are. Does anyone know? 

    • PalmTreeDude
      By PalmTreeDude
      Is this huge difference in tempatures in Coastal Southern California and Inland Southern California from the ocean and the mountains? How high are these mountains? Every time I look at a tempature map of the U.S. I see how much cooler it is in Coastal California than Inland California, which I know is a desert. Does Coastal California ever seem chilly out at some times around this time of year? Out of curiosity I sometimes compare tempatures of here and places like San Diego or Los Angeles and a lot of the time it is warmer here (during the day) in the Spring time. For people who live in these places, what does it feel like out? It looks like Southern California has all kinds of different little (but bigger than micro) climates. I make sure to pay attention to the time difference as well. 
      I apologize for the typo in the title, I didn't notice it. 

    • epiphyte
      By epiphyte
      The show had quite a few nice entries, for example Vriesea Strawberry... 

      Posted pics on my blog.