Category: Flora

A Tree Blushing Valentine’s

I hope you are showering yourselves with love and appreciation today!

To me this particular day is a reminder that not just once a year you should treat yourself (and if applicable your special someone) to something nice. Look, even these trees are feeling a blush coming on!

Tree blush spied on a walk!
Taken on a walk with a friend.

No, that’s not literally a flora blush (though I like to think of it that way) that’s actually red lichen. Let’s have a talk about relationships.

Let’s start of with “what is lichen?” Lichen is a combination of algae and fungus – and can sometimes also contain the third organism cyanobacteria. The lichen grows best on trees in a cool, partially sunny, and moist environment. They face difficulty growing in polluted environments and are less likely to be seen in city-side foliage.

Different types of lichen were also used to produce dye either by boiling them in water or fermenting them in ammonia (urine tradtionally). These dyes were used differently across the world historically: yellow in North America, purple in Europe, and brown with red on Scottish tartans. If you’re anything like me you’ll be tilting your head and saying, “OH” because the preferences of certain historical styles and per royalty will suddenly make much more sense.

Fungus grows on the tree and collects moisture. This feeds the algae which photosynthesizes energy from the sun which in turn feeds the fungus making theirs a mutually symbiotic relationship. This pair of thallus’ attach to the tree bark via rhizines (hair-like filaments) and do not harm the tree, making their and the tree’s relationship one of commensalism.

Mutual Relationship

Personally I am used to seeing green lichen, so what makes the lichen pictured above red? Based on the research I have done the red and white lichen pictured above is a crutose lichen, which means it rows radiating from the center with the newest growth on the edges. As to which lichen specifically this is, I am not entirely sure, though I can tell you that lichen is typically named after its fungus section.

Some people think the lichen is unsightly and can purge it if they wish with several different methods, including a soap solution, copper-sulfate, and lime sulfur (which could also damage the tree if applied to the roots).

Soap Cleanse
Soap Cleanse

If you want to learn more, please feel free to explore any of the linked text above.

So, we’ve covered relationships, especially mutually beneficial ones, and red. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone and remember, much love~

Valentine's Chibis
Valentine’s Chibis

Other “Ratified Research” articles:

  1. The Luckdragon
  2. Purple Heart
  3. Headless Horseman
  4. Glaucus atlanticus: The Blue Dragon

The Purple Heart

“Oh my God Clark – there are these vows: no lovers, that would explain why Lois was hit, no allies, which would explain my purple heart, and no disciples outside of the cult, that’s her. ” — Chloe Sullivan, Smallville Season 9 Episode 10 – “Disciple”

Curious that phrase, “purple heart” to an exploring mind that had heard the phrase rarely. Of course I could glean a passing-in-context definition but a seeking mind will locate answers:

purple heart definition

The first of those definitions is what Allison Mack‘s character Chloe was referring to in context. What interested me the most out of the three was the second definition. I have seen plenty of dark wood, stained wood, and treated wood, but never dark purplish-brown timber. It seems that the genus of trees Peltogyne is particularly responsible for purple heartwood though it does not start out that way. First of all, heartwood is the center of a tree, a section that undergoes a natural, genetically programmed chemical reaction. This reaction results in the heartwood becoming particularly resistant to water and decay.

the bits that make wood

The cells of the heartwood lack cytoplasm and are functionally dead. Each species has a uniquely pigmented center, though it is not always this starkly different from sapwood (the living wood of the tree that holds sap and also stores and transports water from the roots to the leaves as needed by season). The ratio of sapwood to heartwood varies by species. Some trees can survive with a relatively slim layer of sapwood while others have a more compacted area of heartwood. We use heartwood to produce a great aesthetic effect in floors, dressers, bed frames, desks, window frames, and more. The Peltogyne heartwood is ranked one of the extremely densest woods in the world and can be used to produce a particularly pleasing pigment:

Peltogyne hardwood flooring
amaranth wood

Peltogyne is also known as purpleheart, amendiom, and amaranth. Its heartwood starts out a light brown but turns a rich purple after it is cut. The gorgeous shade above is induced by exposing Peltogyne‘s heartwood to UV light (sunlight) which turns the wood dark brown – but it retains a purple hue. When the desired color is achieved it is preserved by a UV inhibitor. Purpleheart is prized in its use for inlay work, particularly in furniture and musical instruments. It is used primarily in smaller scale projects because it is fairly expensive and difficult to work with.

One day I hope to have some of this inlay on pieces in my own home. This is beautiful work and I’m glad I stumbled upon it. It’s another of my appreciations in this wide world, not to mention another interesting connection to a translation of my name.

Well? Go feed your curious mind!

More “Ratified Research” articles:

  1. The Headless Horseman
  2. Glaucus atlanticus: The Blue Dragon
  3. The Luck Dragon
  4. People, Horses, and Halitosis

The Rainbow Eucalyptus and Color Tutorials

Creative title, ey?

A few weeks ago I saw a post about some of the most colorful trees in nature, Eucalyptus deglupta, also known as the rainbow eucalyptus. This got me to thinking about a technique I am using to experiment with what colors to combine in a picture and what hues and such to combine to make the focus point in my pictures stand out.

First the tree.

The Eucalyptus deglupta‘s smooth bark changes color as it ages. This process occurs in different zones at different stages simultaneously along the trunk, which produced the variance in colors you see above. According to the Agro Forestry Tree Database the rainbow eucalyptus is classified as an evergreen tree stretching up to a maximum of seventy-five feet tall. It’s new as a plantation species but thanks to a period of small scale introductions starting in the 1950s it has grown to be a pantropic species. The colorful tree is said to have originated in the Philippines where it is grown for pulpwood and saw logs. It can be used for firewood and trees older than fifteen years yield good charcoal.

Want one for yourself? If you live in the United States the rainbow eucalyptus is only shipped to zones nine and ten where the lowest possible temperatures are 20-30°F and flourishes in areas where the temperature averages at about 75-88°F. While it does best in full overhead sunlight and near a generous water source, it can also be found growing on disturbed land (sites of landslides, post volcanic eruptions).

Now the art concept: if you feel you struggle with combining colors in your work (no matter the medium) there are many ways you can improve. One way is to observe the colors you see around you and copy the combinations. This was, however, not the way I began choosing colors. For as long as I can remember the most prominent way in which I select colors for my work is through imagination. I improved this via trial and error and so if a vision emerges in my mind I can transfer the colors I visualize in my head into the medium I am working with.

Another method is to select combinations based on color theory, which starts with the color wheel. Cyril Rolando (AquaSixio) outlines the basic function and operation of a color wheel in his tutorial on deviantArt. He has also developed a method of selecting colors for complex pieces with a color turtle. I am not sure exactly how the color turtle works but perhaps it will come in handy for a few of you. Be sure to check out a few more of his tutorials as they offer great help in practicing improving your pictures the way you like. Remember, you can pick and choose what you use from a tutorial as the tutorial’s purpose is to show you one of many ways to achieve the effects you want to show in your work.

The last method I want to highlight is one brought to my attention by Tina (griffsnuff) in a brief tutorial. This one is very simple especially if you work with digital art. The gist of it is locate a picture (preferably from nature) that shows the colors you like. Open the photo in whatever program you use (Photoshop, Sai, Painter, etc.) and color drop from the picture. As you can see from Tina’s tutorial the content of the picture you are drawing does not have to be remotely related to the photo you are color dropping from. So, get going, find a picture and start practicing!

In the end, who’s to say two or more colors do not fit together? There are many people out there with bold color selection and even more people out there who like combinations that some may consider psychedelic. The same goes for those who would consider a particular combination of colors boring or dull. EIther way, you will never know which you prefer working with until you try and there will always be a demographic you can glean attention and purchases from.

Matrishka Dance

Happy experimenting~