I went down to Leu this morning, just to see if I could get any last minute inspiration for my remaining leaves. Also I wanted to see the new planting that has been happening over the weekend. Near the lake they have taken out some of the uncontrollable and rampant exotics and are planting native Florida species.
One of these is a Soapberry tree Sapindus marginatus which is a nice little tree whose seeds have the amazing property of foaming when mixed with water. The berries contain saponin which is a natural form of detergent, and if you wish to find out how to use them, this web page The Complete Soapnut Guide will tell you. In Mexico and tropical America they have been used as soap, and in addition, the chemicals in the berries ( saponins) were found to be “toxic to cold-blooded vertebrates, and crushed soapberry fruits were thrown into ponds and streams to stupefy the fish so that they would float to the surface to be gathered.”
info from WaynesWord website here
The blue black marble like seeds are known as “black pearls” throughout the tropics, and are used for jewellery.
What a useful tree this is , I look forward to maybe a seed pod or two later in the year.
However, I had to finish two more leaves today. I do now have a new lamp which is very good and is a bright white light, so the lighting problem has eased. I have drawn these two leaves before. Chinese Holly here and the Toog tree leaf here. It was a challenge to get the shine on the holly leaf and I still felt I want to sharpen everything up a bit and get more contrast into the leaf but it will have to do for now.
Chinese Holly and Toog
As I left the supermarket this morning, a little white dog, who was enthusiastically sniffing the planted borders of the car park, sprang up in the air like a rocket, yelped and fled back to his owner. I wanted to investigate and thought it just might be the extremely venomous and to-be-avoided-at-all-costs, diamond backed rattle snake. I took a rather tentative look as today, of course, I had forgotten to bring with me my professional snake tongs and sack. Thankfully there was no snake but an aggressive and very ferocious Chinese Holly bush which resisted my attempts to snatch a leaf with grim determination.
However here are 3 leaves, gathered at some personal cost as this low lying dense and prickly shrub has leaves of steel with needle like sharp points which stick out all directions and directly in to your flesh.
My plan for the leaf chart will have to wait for a day or two but this holly is a very good example of a leaf with a glabrous surface .. yes… glabrous means smooth and in botanical terms is the opposite to pubescent which of course means hairy! There are many different grades of hairiness and I look forward to my first samples of floccose, strigose and villous leaves.
Sitting on my drawing table these funny leaves looked like bizarre and aggressive insects. Their Latin name is ilex cornuta.. ‘cornuta’ meaning horned, very appropriate.
My aim here is to show the top surface as smooth and shiny, the underside as duller and paler. I have not exaggerated the spines.
For those wishing to hear the name beautifully said in Italian go here!!!!! I am finding some more and exciting audio clips to add occasionally so stay tuned.