Nerium oleander

oleander white

Well done if you guessed correctly (or knew) and named yesterday’s macro Monday as Nerium oleander. Native to the Mediterranean region eastwards to Asia, it is now grown around the world, as a useful landscaping shrub where there is little frost and as a patio plant in colder areas.  It has been grown as an ornamental for centuries and features in many of the Roman wall paintings in Pompeii. With handsome, evergreen foliage and pretty, fragrant flowers it is deservedly popular. But it is also very poisonous.

It is said that Alexander the Great lost men who ate meat skewered on  oleander twigs. All parts of the plant are poisonous. The sap is also irritant.

oleander white 3

I was always encouragedto snap out the shoots that form at the base of the terminal (at the end of a shoot) flower cluster. It was said to me that it encouraged the flowers to open if the three or so sideshoots were removed. I rarely bother but I do believe that it would help with the doubles that rarely manage to open their flowers in the UK.

As the general tidy up continues, I washed dust of my random collection of ‘stones’ on the book case. I don’t have many. But there is a geode…

geode2

geode 3

geode

A piece of amethyst…

amethyst2

amethyst 3

And, my favorite, a piece of Labradorite. This can look very dull in the wrong light. But get the direction right and it looks very different. As you might expect, it comes from Labrador. The blue colour is not down to actual pigment. I will let Wikipedia (with some editing) explain since I can’t!

“Labradorite can display an iridescent optical effect known as labradorescence. The term labradoresence can be defined as  the peculiar reflection of the light from submicroscopical planes orientated in one direction (rarely in two directions); these planes have never such a position that they can be expressed by simple indices, and they are not directly visible under the microscope.”

‘The cause of this optical phenomenon is phase exsolution lamellar structure  occurring in the Bøggild miscibilty gap. The effect is visible when the lamellar separation is between 128 to 252 nm (5.0×10−6 to 9.9×10−6 in); the lamellae are not necessarily parallel; and the lamellar structure is found to lack long range order. ”

labradorite

And you thought botanical names were complicated!

labradorite2

 

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