Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Coontie is Growing! And My Heart of Flame is Making a BIG Bud!!!


The poor coontie.

I can't even remember where I got it. Picked it up somewhere, a rescue. I'm afraid I left it lying about, unpotted, for quite some time; I was more interested in the female seed cone I'd acquired with the plant. Then after I finally potted it, the hurricane ate it, and also scattered my precious seeds far and wide.

When I finally found the plant under piles of branches and debris, a couple of months after the storm, it had no leaves or branches left. The pot was lying on its side.

Most anyone would have thrown it away. Me? I just...couldn't.

Not when there was a little root ball still there.

I repotted it. Watered it. Months went by. I waited. Gave up. Stopped watching it. The summer rains came and watered it for me. I found little seedlings coming up from the seeds scattered by the storm, and I potted those. Months went by.

And the little knot in the pot suddenly produced 4 leaves.

I was ecstatic.

It did nothing else, but I knew it wanted to live.

Months went by. I finally decided to plant it in the ground. It did nothing. Months went by. I moved it to its current home, in the ground under the orchid tree.

Months went by.

A week ago, I saw something.

Furled around the center crown of the plant were three tiny fronds. And soon, a fourth.


And they decided to grow. Now they're growing so fast you can almost hear them move.

A coontie, Zamia pumila (aka Z. floridana), is a native Florida plant. It's a cycad. From this and some of its relatives you can make *sago.* Arrowroot. Seminole bread.

But you must process it right or it will kill you.

During the Seminole Wars, a bunch of American soldiers hunting Indians in Florida were running low on food. They had an Indian guide with them. They disrespected this guide in many ways; after all, he was only an Indian, just like the culprits they were hunting. An ignorant savage.

So when he told them, yes, that's a food plant, but you have to wash the roots a certain way before you can eat them --

they put it down to ignorant native superstition.

And the soldiers did it *their way,* and ate it and died.

Today Zamia is grown for its wonderful weird looks, and to attract the rare and gorgeous atala butterflies. There are different Zamia varieties, with larger and smaller plants, with thinner or thicker leaflets. Mine's the thick leaved kind, which is the most attractive in many ways.

So you can see why I'm so delighted with it. And I do still have a number of seedlings I'm growing from that seed pod it threw off way back when. I love the little babies.

And the Heart of Flame? Remember, the brilliant color so far is only from the leaves. Now we're finally getting a bud growing up from the middle. I'll keep posting pictures as it grows. This is an Event, an unfolding story, and one not to be missed if you can help it.

The night-blooming Peruvian cereus is budding, too. With the terrible drought I thought we wouldn't get many flowers. But then it rained a bit, several times, and for a cactus, a little rain goes a long way. You can see some buds on my biggest baby. I took another shot from a different angle so you can see them outlined against the sky.

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sue said...

Cool pictures! Thanks for sharing. I hate getting "rid" of plants if I think they may have an inkling of a chance to live... love that yours did!

ragingmom said...

K, thanks for your prayers! We appreciate it!

John P. McCann said...

You're a blooming success!

Calf tear is a bummer. I must grieve for the loss of a goal, then soldier on.

Do you have Carmax in Florida? Google them. That's where we bought after the old-fashioned used car dealer double-crossed us and sold the car he promised us. Carmax is a wonderful, no-pressure, sticker price (plus 10% taxes, etc.) operation. Growing like hot cakes.


Kirsten N. Namskau said...

Beautiful ... Lucky you who have "green fingers"

Cindi said...

I've never heard of a coontie. Is it pronounced coon-tee or coon-tye? That heart of flame is gorgeous!

You've been tagged too. ;-)

LL said...

The title of this post made me think you were writing some porn stuff. I'm so disappointed. haha

k said...

Sue, I have this *plant rescue* thing goin' on. Just like you, I can't help myself. Most of the plants in my yard were picked up from the side of the road after storms, or looting abandoned plants in nurseriers in advance of the developer's bulldozers. Nancy's a plant rescuer, too.

ragingmom, you got it. Good luck to you, on all fronts.

John, I know you'll be okay. But it's a hard thing, still.

Cars and me? Well...let's just say, that's Walter's department. But I have been hearing good things about Carmax, so it's nice to have confirmation from a trustworthy Real Person.

Kirsten, I KNOW I'm lucky. I never cease to appreciate that, and try to be worthy of it.

Cindi, it's coon-tee. One source says it came from a Creek word, *kuntii.* And that Heart of Flame is something else, huh? But the THORNS on that sucker! Ai yi yi!

Tagged? HMMMM! I gotta check this out. I'm, uh, I'm not a good responder to such. I like memes etc. on other people's blogs but I never seem to do them here. I think I don't want to get caught in a dry spell and blow it.

ll, of course, I NEVER do that on purpose. Nope. Not me. ;-)

pepektheassassin said...

Heh. The title of this one sounds alot like a porn site--if I didn't know better.... :D

Love the pics!

prettylady said...

That Heart of Flame looks like it's glowing, particularly when you enlarge the picture. How did you do that, or alternatively, how does IT do that?

I will tell the story of your coontie to the stump of my rosebush, which appears to have found that last cold snap too daunting. The rosebushes in the ground seem to be able to weather NY winters just fine, but evidently the wind-chill on a fire escape four floors up is lethal to them.

I have planted morning glories, sweet peas and gladioli around the stump, so that even if it doesn't come back, it will serve as a support for others.

pepektheassassin said...

Hmmm. Looks a little like a porn site, too...not that I am knowledgeable about that sort of thing, you understand. I only saw one of those ONCE, by ACCIDENT.


pepektheassassin said...

PS I save earthworms on the sidewalks after rain. Does that count?

pepektheassassin said...

PPS I ate a mango for lunch! Yummy! :D

k said...

Miss Assassin, I am SO glad you're back online! My computer was down a couple days last week too, and oh, that's not easy. A whole WEEK would have most of us pretty itchy.

I like to think of this sort of title and pix as the glory of the natural world in all its, uh, reproductive vigor.

Does that work?


And of COURSE the sidewalk earthworms count! Surely they count to the earthworms, right? And then of course, to all the little places that benefit from the Worm Rescues.

And those mangoes are good, huh? They're special. Really special.

I brag on them left and right and it's not even my mango tree!

Pretty Lady, should it come to pass, I'll mourn the loss of your rose bush. The flowers were beautiful, and it's always sad to see one go.

Betweeen potted plants and those in the ground? I've lost a great number to those little differences.

But I wholeheartedly applaud your letting the stump stay and support the new little ones. Excellent! And who knows, it may come back for you. They often surprise us that way.

I love sweet peas and wish like crazy we could grow them here. I may experiment, one winter, with one of the newer *heat-tolerant* types. MAY.

I have NO idea how that plant gets that glow! But it certainly does, and it's just as striking in real life. I'll post some update pix for comparison.

prettylady said...

You can't grow sweet peas? Really? Gosh, it never occurred to me that there was anything you couldn't grow.

k said...

Oh boy.

I can see I'll have to let the cat out of the bag.

I kill things left and right. By accident, I mean. I had about 100 orchids when I met Walter, and I lost most of them when I moved into his apartment. Same apartment complex, different exposure. They just couldn't make it with the lower sunshine. I chose the man over the plants, that time.

Sweet peas like cooler, northern climates. Like many cooler weather or long-day plants, they're nearly impossible to grow in South Florida.

What we can grow here, though, is a tropical pea vine with the most glorious blue flower you ever saw in a pea vine. I'll post it shortly.

As far ss I know, it's the only color it comes in, and it has no fragrance. But it's something, at least.