“Spitting Seeds”

I caught this fiendish grin coughing up seeds all over one of my pathways this morning. I quickly got a tray and stuck it underneath the vomiting seedpod, carefully picking up the seeds that had already been deposited on the decomposed granite.


These rather large datura seedpods start off quite hard and green, then they ripen, soften and eventually split, spewing out an enormous amount of seeds in a very drunk “ten pints of lager and a vindaloo” fashion. Oh yes, in a ripened state they are slimy and quite disgusting…but what great hats.

I picked two or three of these pods smeared them around on my tray and left them to bake in the hot Texas sun. I have never tried to grow datura from seed, but after witnessing one of the finest displays from this plant this year, and the Sphingids it attracted: http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2010/08/wilson/, I am determined to have a lot more of it.

I know they are poisonous, I know they contain tropane alkaloids, I know I have kids, I know I have them planted next to a mountain laurel that also drops its potentially lethal red beans all around them…What can I say?  The Patch is a dangerous place, if the plants don’t get you, the Naboo surely will.

I have hammered into my children from a very young age what they should avoid doing with certain plants in the garden, and they totally get it, this is one they give a very wide birth, well this, and the mountain laurel, and the oleander, angels trumpet and…

From a crazy grin to some rather irritated eyes…

It appears that Cactus man (junior) has developed another slight retinal irritation, just to add to all the drama that he has already had to endure in his resurrected life… http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2009/10/halloween-2009/

Is it me or is his “small eye” getting smaller? Also, I couldn’t help but notice that he has developed a lot more disturbing lumps on his paddle…(never a good thing).

“You have that right ESP”.

I took my hose and irrigated his eye sockets in an attempt to make him feel a little more comfortable.

On a lighter note:

Coral Vine

Antigonon leptopus

has started to bloom in the Patch this week. These pink blooms are a staple in southeast Asia for bridal bouquets, it is also known as “chain of love”, probably due to heart-shaped leaves and pink flowers that bees cannot resist.  I have a love hate relationship with this plant, it can be very invasive if left to its own devices, and it looks like Hell in the winter, so make sure you let it climb in areas where you can get to, to clear out the old growth…and whatever you do, do not let it get anywhere close to some…

…giant timber bamboo, it would like nothing more then to climb up to the top of these culms, it would scale them in seconds!

This is the skinny side of the Patch, lots of utilities and ducts, home to my redneck wind chime. It does not look too bad from this angle but lets pan out a little…

There we go!

On the left side a couple of pink jasmine vines lived happily for some years, but last winter’s freezes sadly took care of them, it is now a complete interwoven mess.  I could stand on a step ladder for hours unraveling these strands, but I won’t.  I intend to replant at the base with some more vines and let them recover the structure…the gardening equivalent of sweeping the tangled mess under the carpet.

The additional carpet of weeds on the floor are completely out of control.  While I was in here, weeding on hands and knees, I disturbed a host of unsavory characters that had made the area their home…

I found a few of these large, very grumpy toads, shortly before I felt something else, something cold and much more sinister, slimming its way around my right wrist. I instinctively flicked my arm in my now traditional conniption fashion which, for some reason, brings my right knee up toward my chin and ends with me looking behind me in a dog like fashion!  My spasm sent this unsavory creature slapping onto the side of my house…where it unexpectedly stuck.

What on earth!

“Or perhaps not from Earth ESP, have you considered that”?

I zeroed in on the anomaly with my camera set to macro…it was quite shocking!

In a panic I frantically checked my wrist, half-expecting to see a hole where this alien had burrowed, perhaps leaving a part of itself (Ahhh) inside me to grow, ultimately to consume me from the inside, luckily I found nothing.

This is a land planarian,

Bipalium kewense…

…and it was sufficiently disgusting.

They are grey to brown long flat worms with several dark stripes running down the back.  Land planarians thrive in high temperature and humidity, thus they are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical areas.  Heads of many land planarians are expanded lunate or tapering to a blunt point.  A mouth, which also serves as an anus (shudders), is present near mid-body, these disturbing worms are voracious predators of earthworms, slugs, insect larvae, and like the Naboo (reportedly) are cannibalistic.  They are also capable of utilizing their own tissues such as reproductive tissue for food when reserves are exhausted. (repeated swallowing, left knee vibration)

Here is the side alley all cleaned up, well mostly.  Now to bide my time before my next granite delivery. An alphonse karr bamboo will be going in, in front of the air conditioning unit to visually hide it from the front of the property.

Now if I can only screen the planarian from my conscious memory, perhaps I will get some sleep tonight?

Stay Tuned  for:

“Squeezing Lanterns”

All material © 2010 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

Congratulations on your first week at kindergarten Miss P.

  • TexasDeb August 27, 2010, 10:20 am

    Congrats indeed Miss P! Surely the start of an illustrious scholastic run.

    ESP, if I may be so bold, might I suggest a potato vine AKA Solanum jasminoides. Mine is doing quite well in dappled shade, the blooms are delicate, year round, and it has survived both drought and freeze well (though it is in an area that is regularly watered).

  • ESP August 27, 2010, 10:30 am

    Hi TD.

    This week has totally taken it out of her, after a rather laid back summer, the new 6:45 start and the immersion into a dual language program, she gets home and decompresses to a few episodes of Sponge Bob without a word :-)
    Solanum jasminoides looks great, do you find it needs adequate water? Does it smell like a jasmine? I loved the pink jasmine but I need something a little hardier, obviously!


  • Les August 28, 2010, 7:41 pm

    I could have gone all evening without hearing about that Bipalium, but I know that nature is not always pretty.

  • ESP August 28, 2010, 7:59 pm

    Hi Les.

    So could I!
    It was quite shocking to feel it coldly wrapped against my wrist and then even more disgusting to see the creatures flattened head before panic set in! Ewww and more ewww :-)
    I have never had one of these on me before, and I hope no one ever has this happen to them!


  • Bob Pool August 28, 2010, 9:59 pm

    Sooooo, there is a part of the patch that isn’t perfect, the part no one gets to see. Uh huh, Philip could be normal after all.

    I could tell you were freaked out by the flat worm. I mean the toad, the Eye of Sauron, duh. Man you must have been out of it. You need to know that if these flat worms even get on you they suck some of you into their A-hole/mouth. Just a little before you can get them off. If it tasted real good, and as we all know from fairy tales, all Englishmen do, then they will look for that taste again. Also as they get around other flat worms and kiss or sniff A-hole/mouth, the other flat worm gets a whiff of the good taste[Englishman] and they start looking for it as well.

    Even as we speak there could be hundreds, nay, thousands of flat worms crawling around looking for said good tasting Englishman, to suck the bodily juices from him. Brrrr

    I’ve heard that sprinkling Seven Dust around your bed will keep you safe while you sleep. However the gubment just made Seven drop the percentage of active ingredient from 10% down to five so now I’m not certain there is any hope for you. Can I have dibs on the Giant Timber Bamboo. You know, just in case.

    Hi Bob.

    There are parts of the Patch that always require immediate attention, it is a matter of which one REALLY demands immediate attention first!
    In terms of being normal?
    I will let you decide…conniption: right knee travels toward chin, head rotates around to look behind for invisible foe :-)

    Bob I really wish that you had not written the rest of your comment…Brrr indeed. The way I discovered the cold flat worm, the way it’s sinewy body felt against the inside of my wrist, oh yes my conniption here was one to be marveled at, people stopped across the street and observed, my neighbors applauded when it subsided, etc,etc. I must have looked completely mad, especially considering that straight after the spasm, I was pressed up against the side of my house taking macro shots and talking to it….”stiiillll, stilllll, thats it…hold…hold!”

    I was talking to a planarian?

    I smell the blood of an Englishman.
    Be he alive or be he dead
    I’ll grind his bones to make my bread”.

    It appears everyone likes our blood. (canines snap out “True Blood” fashion)


  • Laura August 28, 2010, 11:40 pm

    Congrats on your girls first week of kindergarden. Our doesn’t start until the 13th of Sept. Which seems really late to me. Interesting times :) I loves your toad picture, his eyes were golden. Very cool!

    Hi Laura.

    The “Eye of Sauron” (thanks Bob) toad was a beauty, I found quite a few of them while I was excavating this area, every one of them made me jump…it is amazing I go outside at all!
    Yes the first week of kindergarten exhausted her, in fact everybody come to think of it…it can only get easier?
    Right? She is in a dual language program, and is already taking great delight teaching me Spanish when she gets home.

    Good luck with your first week.


  • Pam/Digging August 28, 2010, 11:57 pm

    Interesting about the planarian. I’ve come across these before but never knew more than the name. There are a lot of weird creatures out there, aren’t there?

    So did you locate an A.K. bamboo?

  • ESP August 29, 2010, 9:23 am

    Hi Pam.

    My first planarian and hopefully my last. It looked like it should belong in an equatorial rain forest!
    It appears that there is no end to the weirdness lurking only a step or two away from where we all live….who knows what else is out there, in waiting, covered in slime in the shadows…Brrr indeed.

    Have not located an A.K. yet, I will be making phone-calls tomorrow. (That would be a clumping bamboo with a vertical habit you understand, not a rather large gun (for any government agencies who have an RSS feed to the ESP:-))

    Thanks Pam.


  • Cheryl August 30, 2010, 1:53 pm

    This has absolutely nothing to do with your post.. but remember way back when (when? I don’t remember!) you had something in your yard that resembled tall pointy mountains.. and we didn’t know where a REAL place like that could be? Wulingyuan, Hunan Provence, China! (tis on the Bing start-up page thingie today)
    Now I must remember to go back through your postings and try to find what the heck I’m talking about! No, right now there’s yard work to do.. later… if I remember….

  • ESP August 30, 2010, 5:16 pm

    Hi Cheryl.

    I do remember it, in fact I think I had already decided which tower I was going to retire on, and was working on the logistics of how supplies would be air-dropped to me?
    Thank you for pinpointing exactly where it is geographically, this will greatly help with my retirement process (when the time comes)!

    I know exactly what you are talking about so you press on with your yard work, lots to be done as we emerge out of summer.



  • meemsnyc August 31, 2010, 2:11 pm

    I’m so amazed with plants that grow in other regions of our country. I’ve never seen datura before, it’s really neat looking and scary! Those worms are icky. Yuck.

  • ESP August 31, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Hi meemsnyc and welcome to the ESPatch.

    Datura is quite amazing and if you ever get to witness a sphinx moth belly-flopping into one of its enormous blooms the dark, I guarantee you will be forever hooked to this deadly plant. If you want me to send you some seeds drop me an email, I am collecting them as fast as they are being vomited right now :-)

    Shhh, don’t mention the planarians…talking of icky, your tomato ranked right up there on the gag scale!

    Thanks for dropping in.


  • Suzie/Viva Verde September 1, 2010, 12:51 pm

    Oh man. That worm brought back bad memories of one of the first X Files episodes, the Fluke Man. Gave me nightmares for months! Also, that bulemic seed pod has got to be related to Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. Yeesh, your garden is terrifying!

  • ESP September 1, 2010, 5:50 pm

    Hi Suzie.

    Great to find you and your blog! I have added you to my Blog roll, naturally!
    That land planarian WAS like an X-File episode, what was really nasty was how cold it was, especially considering it was August…Nasty! (subtle twitch in right mouth corner)…I need to stop this nonsense :-)

    The Datura seed is quite the character, it looks like a mad sailor who has been hitting the rum a little too hard!

    My garden is terrifying, especially in August with the Conservancy Tour looming in October! Yikes, rain…m.m.must have rain!

    Thanks for dropping in to the Patch.



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