My Second post on Greater Coucal or Crow Pheasant (Centropus sinensis). These regular visitors to my garden are not much scared of my presence, as the pictures show.
Greater Coucals are as big as a crow, with reddish brown wings and unmissable red eyes. They are found in wide range of habitats from jungle to urban gardens and are residents of Indian subcontinent. These birds forage on the ground or among the foliage for insects, lizards etc.
During breeding season, they appear in pairs. Greater coucal has a deep resonant “khoomp-khoomp-khoomp…” sound. In the early mornings I can hear a pair calling out, one responding to the other.
The deep calls are associated with superstitious beliefs of spirits and ill omens, though irrational! In my State the sight of this bird is considered as a good omen!!
Not many may like these slimy critters, except the naturalists among you! These are residents in my garden. Mariaella is a genus of air-breathing land slugs and a gastropod (the base of the stomach used as ‘foot’). A mantle replaces the shell, covering almost all dorsal side.
The Tropical Leatherleaf (Laevicaulis alte) is another land slug; a dark-coloured mollusk with no shell, 7 or 8 cm long. The tentacles are small, 3-4 mm long. It is believed to be an introduced species and invasive. It lives in dry areas and has several adaptations for dry conditions, though very active during wet seasons.
These common slugs of Karnataka are found in human-dominated areas. They feed on vegetation and can be serious pests to horticultural crops. However, I haven’t seen much damage done to my garden plants by them.
Ixora plant is related to coffee plant and belongs to the Family Rubiaceae. Ixora is native to Asia, now widely seen in tropical gardens.
There are about 400 species spread across Africa, India to Southern Asia. They differ in leaf size, plant height, flower size and flower colour. This plant which blooms throughout the year is easy to grow.
Plants are normally sturdy shrubs of 7-8 ft height and the dwarfs are of 1-2 ft. Dwarfs have small leaves and are bushy. Ixora flowers last well when put into a vase with water, making an attractive home arrangement.
Ixora flowers, leaves and roots are used to treat various ailments in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda, especially that of the dwarf varieties.
With purple tied to royalty and ceremony, purple flowers represent dignity, pride and success. An arrangement filled with purple blooms represents accomplishment and admiration.
Having said that, here I am with four deep purple-coloured flowers. No… not the ones that are generally used in flower arrangements!
Purple princess flowers (Tibouchina semidecandra) and Bush clock vine flowers (Thunbergia erecta) are produced on sturdy shrubs. They are attractive hedge plants in any garden. Butterfly-pea flower (Clitoria ternatea) and Purple morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) are climbers. They are excellent for garden fencing.
Purple butterfly-pea flower is well known for its use as a caffeine free beverage (tea), widely used in many Asian countries.
Blue Mormon butterfly (Papilio polymnestor) belongs to the group of Swallowtail butterflies and is endemic to South India and Sri Lanka. They are fairly large and seen throughout the year.
I have seen the butterfly attracted to Ixora and Pagoda flowers in my garden for feeding, as is evident in these pictures. Hibiscus and Jasmine also are preferred food source. But the host plant for the larvae is Citrus plant.
The life cycle is similar to other swallowtails, with the caterpillar passing through five instars before the metamorphosis. If interested, you can view my posts on Common Mormon and Lime butterfly to see some stages of life cycle.
Blue Mormon is the State butterfly of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
It’s the life of a Lime butterfly (Papilio demoleus)….the cycle that is completed in my garden. I could get all stages but eggs.
The common names, Lime butterfly or Lemon butterfly, refer to their host plants, which are usually citrus species such as the cultivated lime.
The caterpillars are voracious eaters and pass through five instars (stages) before pupating. My citrus plant was pretty much ravaged by them. Here I am presenting only two stages.
After the last stage, the caterpillar stays immobile and secretes a liquid to form the pupal case that hangs from the stem of the plant with a silky thread or girdle. The butterfly emerges after nine days from the pupa.
The genus Clerodendrum is native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the world, with most of the species occurring in southern Asia and tropical Africa. Many species are widely distributed throughout the continents.
Most of the species are ornamental with bright and attractive flowers. The flowers provide food for butterflies, Sunbirds, and Hummingbirds. Many species of this genus have been described in various indigenous systems of medicine and are used in preparation of folklore medicines for the treatment of various life-threatening diseases. Many of Clerodendrum genus have been very well studied for their chemical constituents and biological activities.
Clerodendrum belongs to the family Lamiaceae and are mostly woody shrubs.
The Gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) of flowering plants has about 950+ species of vegetable and ornamental plants. Members of the family are annual or perennial herbs native to temperate and tropical areas and include cucumbers, gourds, melons, squashes, and pumpkins. These are fast-growing creeping or climbing vines.
Most species have unisexual flowers, borne in the leaf axils. Flowers may be white or yellow. Male flowers have up to five anthers, often fused or joined and in female flowers the ovary is seen at an inferior level to petals. The fruit in most species is a fleshy many-seeded berry with a tough rind, often attaining considerable size. The seeds are flattened.
Enjoy these cheerful yellow flowers of Gourd family!