Δευτέρα, 28 Μαρτίου 2011

maple trees' spirits

Norway Maple [Acer platanoides]  is a species of maple native to eastern and central Europe and southwest Asia, from France east to Russia, north to southern Scandinavia and southeast to northern Iran.
It is a deciduous tree growing to 20–30 m tall with a trunk up to 1.5 m diameter, and a broad, rounded crown. The bark is grey-brown and shallowly grooved; unlike many other maples, mature trees do not tend to develop a shaggy bark. The shoots are green at first, soon becoming pale brown; the winter buds are shiny red-brown. The leaves are opposite, palmately lobed with five lobes, 7–14 cm long and 8–20 cm (rarely 25 cm) across; the lobes each bear one to three side teeth, and an otherwise smooth margin. The leaf petiole is 8–20 cm long, and secretes a milky juice when broken. The autumn colour is usually yellow, occasionally orange-red. The flowers are in corymbs of 15–30 together, yellow to yellow-green with five sepals and five petals 3–4 mm long; flowering occurs in early spring before the new leaves emerge. The fruit is a double samara with two winged seeds; the seeds are disc-shaped, strongly flattened, 10–15 mm across and 3 mm thick. The wings are 3–5 cm long, widely spread, approaching a 180° angle. It typically produces a large quantity of viable seeds. It is not particularly a long-lived tree, with a maximum age of around 250 years.

The wood is hard, yellowish-white to pale reddish, with the heartwood not distinct; it is used for furniture and turnery.
Many cultivars have been selected, with distinctive leaf shape or coloration such as the dark purple of 'Crimson King' and 'Schwedleri', the variegated leaves of 'Drummondii' and 'Emerald Queen', and the deeply divided, feathery leaves of 'Dissectum' and 'Lorbergii'. The purple-foliage cultivars have orange to red autumn colour. 'Columnare' is selected for its narrow upright growth.
It has been widely placed into cultivation in other areas, including western Europe northwest of its native range. It grows north of the Arctic Circle at Tromsø, Norway. In North America, it is grown as a street and shade tree as far north as Anchorage, Alaska. It is favoured due to its tall trunk and tolerance of poor, compacted soils and urban pollution.
It is becoming a popular species for Bonsai in Europe and is used for medium to large Bonsai Sizes and a multitude of Styles.


Sycamore Maple [Acer pseudoplatanus] is a species of maple native to central Europe and southwestern Asia, from France east to Ukraine, and south in mountains to northern Spain, northern Turkey, and the Caucasus. In Scotland, the Sycamore is known as the Plane tree, although it is not a member of the Platanus genus. Its apparent similarity to the plane led to its being named pseudoplatanus, using the prefix pseudo- (from the Ancient Greek for "false").

It is a large deciduous tree that reaches 20–35 m tall at maturity, with a broad, domed crown. On young trees, the bark is smooth and grey but becomes rougher with age and breaks up in scales, exposing the pale-brown-to-pinkish inner bark. The leaves are opposite, 10–25 cm long and broad with a 5–15 cm petiole, palmately veined with five lobes with toothed edges, and dark green in colour; some cultivars have purple-tinged or yellowish leaves. The leaves are often marked with black spots or patches which are caused by the fungus Rhytisma acerinum. The monoecious yellow-green flowers are produced in spring on 10–20 cm pendulous racemes, with 20-50 flowers on each stalk. The 5–10 mm diameter seeds are paired in samaras, each seed with a 20–40 mm long wing to catch the wind and rotate when they fall; this helps them to spread further from the parent tree. The seeds are mature in autumn about 6 months after pollination.
A number of species of Lepidoptera use the leaves as a food source; see Lepidoptera that feed on maples.

The pioneer cut trunks of great dimension into cross-sections which he then bored through the center, to make primitive solid wheels for his ox cart. If the trunk was hollow, as it often was, he sawed it in lengths of three to four feet, nailed a bottom in it and so had a stout hogs-head for grain.
Other early uses included barber poles, wooden washing machines, lard pails, Saratoga trunks, piano and organ cases and phonograph boxes, according to Culross Peattie. The wood was also used for broad paneling in Pullman train cars.
An infusion of the inner bark was taken by Native Americans to treat dysentary, cough, and measles.

Πέμπτη, 24 Μαρτίου 2011

oak tree spirit

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist on earth. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus. The genus is native to the northern hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cold latitudes to tropical Asia and the Americas.
Oaks have spirally arranged leaves, with a lobed margin in many species; some have serrated leaves or entire leaves with a smooth margin. The flowers are catkins, produced in spring. The fruit is a nut called an acorn, borne in a cup-like structure known as a cupule; each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–18 months to mature, depending on species. The live oaks are distinguished for being evergreen, but are not actually a distinct group and instead are dispersed across the genus.

The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of many countries. Already an ancient Germanic symbol (in the form of the Donar Oak, for instance), certainly since the early nineteenth century, it stands for the nation of Germany. In 2004 the Arbor Day Foundation, held a vote for the official National Tree of the United States of America. In November 2004, Congress passed legislation designating the oak as America's National Tree.

In Baltic mythology, the oak is the sacred tree of Latvian Pērkons, Lithuanian Perkūnas and Prussian Perkūns. Pērkons is the god of thunder and one of the most important deities in the Baltic pantheon.
In Celtic mythology, it is the tree of doors, believed to be a gateway between worlds, or a place where portals could be erected.
In Norse mythology, the oak was sacred to the thunder god, Thor. Some scholars speculate that the reason for this is that the oak – the largest tree in northern Europe – was the one most often struck by lightning. Thor's Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic Chatti tribe. According to legend, the Christianisation of the heathen tribes by Saint Boniface was marked by the oak's being replaced by the fir (whose triangular shape symbolizes the Trinity) as a "sacred" tree.
In the Bible, the oak tree at Shechem is the site where Jacob buries the foreign gods of his people (Gen. 35:4). In addition, Joshua erects a stone under an oak tree as the first covenant of the Lord (Josh. 24.25-7). In Isaiah 61, the prophet refers to the Israelites as "Oaks of Righteousness".
In Slavonic mythology, the oak was the most important tree of the god Perun.

Oaks of the world


i used this decorative texture for the final illustration by DyingBeautyStock

Δευτέρα, 21 Μαρτίου 2011

leafy seadragon

The leafy sea dragon or Glauerts Seadragon, Phycodurus eques, is a marine fish in the family Syngnathidae, which also includes the seahorses. It is the only member of the genus Phycodurus. It is found along the southern and western coasts of Australia. The name is derived from the appearance, with long leaf-like protrusions coming from all over the body. These protrusions are not used for propulsion; they serve only as camouflage. The leafy sea dragon propels itself by means of a pectoral fin on the ridge of its neck and a dorsal fin on its back closer to the tail end. These small fins are almost completely transparent and difficult to see as they undulate minutely to move the creature sedately through the water, completing the illusion of floating seaweed.

Much like the seahorse, the leafy sea dragon's name is derived from its resemblance to another creature (in this case, the mythical dragon). While not large, they are slightly larger than most sea horses, growing to about 20–24 cm (8–10 in). They feed on plankton and small crustaceans.
The lobes of skin that grow on the leafy sea dragon provide camouflage, giving it the appearance of seaweed. It is able to maintain the illusion when swimming, appearing to move through the water like a piece of floating seaweed. It can also change colour to blend in, but this ability depends on the sea dragon's diet, age, location, and stress level.

The creature has a long, pipe-like snout that it uses to feed. It primarily eats crustaceans including plankton and mysids, but its diet also includes shrimp and small fish. It catches prey with the aid of its camouflage. Leafy sea dragons oddly enough do not have teeth, which is rare amongst animals that eat small fish and shrimp.
The leafy sea dragon is related to the pipefish and belongs to the family Syngnathidae, along with the seahorse. It differs from the seahorse in appearance, form of locomotion, and its inability to coil or grasp things with its tail. A related species is the weedy sea dragon, which is multi-coloured and grows weed-like fins but is smaller than the leafy sea dragon. In the November 2006 issue of National Geographic, marine biologist Greg Rouse was reported as investigating the DNA variation of the two sea dragon species across their ranges.
The leafy sea dragon is the official marine emblem of the state of South Australia. A biennial Leafy Sea Dragon Festival is held by the District Council of Yankalilla, South Australia. It is a festival of the environment, arts and culture of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula, with the theme of celebrating the leafy sea dragon. The inaugural festival in 2005 attracted over 7,000 participants and visitors.

As with seahorses, the male leafy sea dragon cares for the eggs. The female produces up to 250 bright pink eggs, then deposits them on to the male's tail via a long tube. The eggs then attach themselves to a brood patch, which supplies them with oxygen. It takes a total of nine weeks for the eggs to begin to hatch, depending on water conditions. The eggs turn a ripe purple or orange over this period, after which the male pumps its tail until the infants emerge, a process which takes place over 24–48 hours. The male aids in the babies hatching by shaking his tail, and rubbing it against seaweed and rocks. Once born, the infant sea dragon is completely independent, eating small zooplankton until large enough to hunt mysids. Only about 5% of the eggs survive. Leafy sea dragons take about 28 months to reach sexual maturity.

The leafy sea dragon uses the fins along the side of its head to allow it to steer and turn. However, its outer skin is fairly rigid, limiting mobility.
Individual leafy sea dragons have been observed remaining in one location for extended periods of time (up to 68 hours) but will sometimes move for lengthy periods. Tracking of one individual indicated it moved at up to 150 metres (490 feet) per hour.

Leafy sea dragons are subject to many threats, both natural and man-made. They are caught by collectors, and used in alternative medicine. They are vulnerable when first born, and are slow swimmers, reducing their chance of escape from a predator. Seadragons are often washed ashore after storms, as unlike their relative the seahorse, seadragons cannot curl their tail and hold onto seagrass to stay safe.
They have become endangered through pollution and industrial runoff as well as collection by fascinated divers who are entranced by their unique appearance. In response to these dangers they have been officially protected by the Federal Government of Australia.

The leafy sea dragon is found only in the waters of Australia from Kangaroo Island on the Southern shoreline to Jurien Bay on the Western shoreline. It was once thought to be very limited in its range; however, further research has discovered that the sea dragon will actually travel several hundred metres from its habitat, returning to the same spot using a strong sense of direction. They are mostly found around clumps of sand in waters up to 50 metres (164 feet) deep, hiding among rocks and sea grass. They are commonly sighted by scuba divers near Adelaide.

Due to being protected by law, obtaining sea dragons is often an expensive and difficult process as they must be from captive bred stock, and exporters must prove their broodstock were caught before collecting restrictions went into effect, or that they had a license to collect dragons. To date, only the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee has been able to breed the leafy sea dragon. It first succeeded in doing so in 2003. Sea dragons have a specific level of protection under federal fisheries legislation as well as in most Australian states where they occur.
Sea dragons are difficult to maintain in aquaria. Success in keeping them has been largely confined to the public aquarium sector, due to funding and knowledge that would not be available to the average enthusiast.

Πέμπτη, 17 Μαρτίου 2011

lilium rabbit

clockwork king of saxony bird of paradise

The King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise (Pteridophora alberti) is a bird in the Bird-of-paradise family (Paradisaeidae). It is the only member in monotypic genus Pteridophora. It is endemic to montane forest in New Guinea.
Both the common name "King of Saxony" and the scientific specific name "alberti" were given to honour Albert of Saxony. The bird is sometimes known as "Kisaba" by the natives of Papua New Guinea and Western New Guinea, as a human interpretation of the male's loud call.
The diet consists mainly of fruits, berries and arthropods.

The adult King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise is approximately 22 cm long. The male is black and yellow with a dark brown iris, black bill, brownish-grey legs, aqua-green mouth, with two remarkably long (up to 50 cm) scalloped, enamel-blue brow-plumes that can be erected at the bird's will. The unadorned female is greyish brown with barred underparts. The male's ornamental head plumes are so bizarre that, when the first specimen was brought to Europe, it was thought to be a fake.

The species is distributed from the Weyland Mountains in Western New Guinea to the Krathe Range in Papua New Guinea at 1,400–2,850 meters above sea level, but primarily at 1,800–2,500 meters asl.
Although males are hunted for their highly prized long plumes, used by natives for ceremonial purposes, the species remains fairly common in parts of its range. It is considered to be of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Adult males are territorial. The male guards its territory from perches placed in the tops of tall trees, and from these perches sings to compete with males in neighbouring territories. Moulted head-plumes in good condition are sought by male Archbold's Bowerbirds for use as decorations, and in turn collected from the courtship bowers by humans.
In 1996 David Attenborough filmed the first ever footage of the mating ritual of the bird.

butterflies and moths

this is something i did back at the summer of 2008

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