Pretty Pictures

Queen’s Day shenanigans in Amsterdam this past May, 2012. Revelers wear orange as a national color.


Are there Moles in Florida?

“Are there moles here?” I once asked as a child visiting my Grandma in Florida. My Grandpa over heard us and immediately saw a teachable moment. He offered to show me a real mole. What kid could resist? Out we went to the backyard with shovels and visions of cute beaver-toothed hamsters in my head. As soon as we got out there a couple of other-people’s Grandpas came over to help with the search and some tentative digging ensued. Confused, I dug in and chunked out a huge shovelful. I examined the spadeful of soil for big game. Another chunk out of the grass. And another. “Not so deep!” the Grandpas exclaimed in unison. I was deeply confused. I was going for a six inch long animal about the size of a slicked down chipmunk-squirrel. Something like this:

A horrible vicious beast, all rubbery whiskers and spade-like paws

The Grandpas were picking around so tentatively, I thought they were nuts. “Ah, here is one” one of the Grandpas declared and held out his hand.

Really?!? Is that all you got? That thing is just a CRICKET!

I was kind of angry that a bunch of Grandpas did not even know that a mole was a furry mammal that was like a subterranean squirrel with interesting rubbery nose things and were trying to trick me with a joke of a big grasshopper. As you can see, I never quite got over it. In hindsite, I can see they were talking about creatures they referred to as “moles” in their neighborhood and really had no idea what a real mole was. I remain appalled that the Average Grandpa had so little knowledge of insects/moles/mammals vs. cold blooded beasts. Was the public school system so bad in their day that they really got these things mixed up? Sigh.

For all you gardeners out there fighting real moles, here is a link to the Extension Service. They never get mammals and insects confused. link to the Florida Extension Service’s info on moles in lawns.


This week was finals week at most US colleges, so I am saluting our burned out students with a post about Energy drinks. These have been very popular for the past few years, offering a burst of sugar, caffeine, and magical herbal substances including Guarana. The main chemical ingredient in Guarana is caffeine. It also contains some antioxidants and theobromine (of chocolate fame) and theophylline which are heart stimulants.

In South America, the Guarana plant has been used for centuries as a stimulant and memory enhancer. No wonder students drink the stuff.

According to tropical lore, the berries from the Guarana plant are processed and dried and then pounded into a dry powder. The powder is added to water and a dough results which is rolled out into small cylinders. It is known as Brazilian coke. It is used by grating into a beverage and sweetened to taste. It is more popular in Brazil than cola drinks. It is so widely known that the word for soda is often “Guarana” regardless of the flavor of the beverage. The most popular brand is the Antarctica soft drink. More caffeine is consumed in South America from guarana than from coffee and colas combined.

There is some evidence to suggest Guarna has some health effects. In the ‘Pharmacological Activity of Guarana (Paullinia cupana) in laboratory Animals’ by Espinola, E.B. Dias RF et al J. Ethnopharmcol 55 (3); 223-9, it increased memory and endurance when compared to a placebo in rats.

In humans, memory, alertness and mood were increased by moderate doses. It is also generally recognised as safe by the US government. Since the main effects seem to be from the caffeine, I cannot say whether it would do much more than a cup or two of coffee, but whatever floats your boat. The main thing that will help you do better on exams is more studying. If a soft drink with mystical powers is your drug of choice, it may allow you to study more. I would think unstimulated study sessions and a good night’s sleep would be the best, but I am just a Mom, not a brain scientist. Good luck, kids.

Congratulations! We have a Winner

Ginkgo biloba

We have been waiting all month for the

    Ginkgo biloba

tree in the backyard to shed its leaves. We had a contest to see who would guess the closest date. The winner has been contacted and notified that his guess of October 24th was the closest to the actual date of October 29th. Unfortunately, the tree was not quite as synchronous as hoped for due to a violent string of windstorms that tore some leaves off prematurely. If you watch Ginkgos around your town you will see that they lose their leaves all of a sudden within a 1-3 day period. They are well-known for doing this and many a university botany department has these contests. With the contest over, we can once again start to blog about botany and other items.

Another item regarding this post is that it is Infamous’ 100th blog post and a reason to celebrate in itself. I have tried to photograph various items of interest in the botanical world and bring them to the attention of my alert readers. As a goal, I have tried to have 50% of the posts on actual botany and the other 50% on items of interest such as books, movies, strange occurences and recipes. I am pleased that the blog is going well and I hope to do another 100 posts in the next year.

If you have items of interest, pictures, questions about botany or life, please place a comment and the editorial staff and photographer will get right on them. Infamous

A Contest!

These are the fan-shaped leaves of the Gingko tree.

Today we have a very exciting development. We are having our first contest on the blog. The contest is sort of like a baby pool where people guess the date a child will be born, only we will guess the date the Ginkgo in Infamous’ back yard will shed its leaves. In case you did not realize it, the Ginkgo sheds all its leaves in one day. It is the most synchronous shedder I have ever heard of. The tree makes abscission layers at the base of the leaves and for some reason, they seem to all reach the same level of development on the same day. One gentle breeze and Poof! all the leaves are down. So I will start the pool off with my guess that the leaves will fall on October 23. No one else can take that day. Submit your guesses in the comment section. When the day arrives, we shall see who is closest. There will be a special prize of no monetary value awarded. The winner will be announced on this blog. Deadline for your submissions is September 30th so do not delay.

What is this world coming to?

First Pluto and now Triceratops. I guess science moves along, doesn’t it? I thought that in case you missed this, my readers would like to know that there never was a Triceratops.

“According to research by John Scannella and Jack Horner triceratops was just a young version of a different dinosaur known as a torosauras. John Scannella and Jack Horner are researchers at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. They have analyzed skulls from dinosaurs that had been categorized as triceratops and torosaurus. They are confident to declare that the dinosaur was actually just a young version of a Torosaurus.”

Perpetual Motion

Perpetual motion, or not.  Not really, but this stopper is unusual.  Here is a minute and 15 seconds you will never get back.

Funny Signs

Funny signs I have seen

Oh Really now?

Too bad I'm 52 I guess I can't go in


But I love to run while in the pool

Dear Handicapped People; deal with it

Giant Conch

Giant Conch from the Florida Keys

Giant Pumpkin and a Cactus

Giant polka dot pumpkins at Fairchild Botanic garden, FLI wonder how this cactus will look on my blog?

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