Posts Tagged ‘blueberry’

When you see a Spring Azure butterfly, imagine a covetous Cleopatra.

The ancients cherished this brilliant hue of blue with a hint of green, so like the sky on a clear day.  The word azure comes to us by way of Lazheward, the Persian name for the region of Afghanistan where lapis lazuli has been mined for over 6,000 years.

The world’s first synthetic pigment may have been “Egyptian blue“, but artists from that African empire carved sacred scarabs and other symbols of royalty and eternal life from imported lapis lazuli. The stones are prominent among burial gifts. Cleopatra mesmerized Caesar and Anthony with eyes shadowed with powdered lapis lazuli.

Lapis lazuli.

What if Cleopatra, seeing this magical creature flashing the color of life and nobility in mid-air, had the vain and devious thought to capture and powder it for her adornment? Nature has an answer for such hubris! The scales of the butterfly’s wings would grind down to a translucent white glop. You see, the Spring Azure has not a bit of its namesake pigment.

The iridescent dazzle of the Spring Azure comes from nature’s nanotechnology. The Spring Azure boasts a “structural color,” meaning its wing scales have an elegant microscopic architecture that reflects very specific wavelengths of color. Textile manufacturers have already mimicked this trick to make fabrics that never fade or dull, while bankers are weighing how structural colors might make currency harder to counterfeit. And yes Cleopatra, “photonic cosmetics” is an emerging industry. The most exciting prospect, however, is a new information revolution that takes cues from nature to create transistors based on light rather than electricity.

The following video is a great introduction to this field of research:

While Spring Azures are easy to spot across a field, they’re pretty rare in the big city. Seek them in woodlands and open fields in our parks, or in gardens. Females often deposit their eggs on dogwood tree flower buds and lower to the ground in blueberry bushes and New Jersey tea. Males hang out near mud puddles and the mucky edges of stream banks and ditches. Both sexes feed on the nectar of rock cress, winter cress, dandelions, buckeyes, and violets.

If you’d like to boost your chances of spying a Spring Azure, please consider volunteering for the Butterfly Project NYC, donating to the organization, and going on field trips.

Read Full Post »



Looking for a reason to rush out the door on this gray Saturday? Here are three good, bloomin’ reasons to get off yer butt!


And remember, even if these events pass you by, you can still enjoy viewing and growing these blossoms and fruits on your own. Don’t wait to be led.



Alpine Strawberry gardening (Bronx)

From our friends at Wave Hill garden and cultural center:



The fruit of the alpine strawberry is much smaller that the familiar “garden” strawberry, but, as many connoisseurs rightly claim, much tastier.  It is a very adaptable plant as it thrives in light and shade and is just as happy planted in a container as it is out in the garden.  If planted now–in the ground, in a pot, hanging basket or window box–alpine strawberries will reward with masses of delicate flowers and delectable fruits from spring right through to autumn.

Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day demonstrates some interesting ideas and helps you plant your very own pot with red and yellow fruited alpine strawberry plants.

Note: And keep in mind that strawberries have been “wildeyed” by a Nature Calendar reader in Rego Park!



Blueberry blossoms (Staten Island)

From our friends at the Natural Resources Protective Association



Saturday, May 3, 9:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 39th Annual Spring Ten Mile Walk of the SI Greenbelt — Ten moderate miles at a comfortable pace. See wonderful vistas, beautiful woodlands and the blooming of the Pinxter Azalea, Highbush Blueberry and Canada Mayflower throughout our Greenbelt. Meet at our new meeting place where the parking is easier: the beginning of the blue line trail, at the end of Staten Island Blvd. (at the end of the road right above Petrides School which intersects Ocean Terrace). Bring lunch, beverage and sturdy walking shoes as well as camera, binoculars and field guides. We go in all weather but walk is shortened if high pollution levels occur.


For more information call Dick Buegler (718)761-7496 or Chuck Perry (718)667-1393 for more information.



Cherry Blossom Festival

From the wonderful Brooklyn Botanical Garden Via our friends Gemini and Scorpio.


Sakura Matsuri, the cherry blossom celebration at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, is one of the most beautiful annual events in New York City. If you hit the timing just right, you’ll be blown away by the gorgeous trees in full bloom. And the weekend of May 3-4 marks the Sakura Matsuri, the Cherry Blossom Festival, featuring live music and dance, film screenings, and tea ceremonies throughout the gardens. In addition to the below events, there will be Origami Crane Confections in Magnolia Plaza; workshops in doll making, woodblock printing, and Ikebana flower arranging; a Sakura Tattoo Parlor; book signings, green-tea demonstrations, a bonsai display, garden tours, and Japanese food and drink. (Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 900 Washington Ave, 10am-6pm, $8 — photo above by BBG)


Note: And keep an eye out this summer for delicious black cherries in the Ramble in Central Park!

Read Full Post »