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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Mexican Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) Talks Back

Truly  demented readers will doubtless remember the Mexican Lime that has been Mano a mano with me since 2009. For less passionate readers  (see Dec 13 2009 blog)--- bought this lime tree, put it against a hot wall where it lost  its leaves when the temperature dropped into the 30’s. Thinking it was dying, applied first aid a la UC Davis by wrapping it in Christmas lights.
Then moved it to south side of the house on snazzy new terrace. Lime responded by bearing 3 very seedy  limes ( 6/9/2010). It then promptly once more lost its leaves in the next cold spell.Argh.
No image--I was planning to give it away!
Had the gardener move it to a 20 gal black pot, return it to the west side, but this time sheltered by a bamboo hedge (the roots) while its head was in the west sun. The plan was to give it to some non-gardener who would give it a new home, not knowing how surly and unfruitful a tree it was. (Wanna buy a duck? …)

The Lime got watered occasionally along with 2 other potted tangerine trees with whom I had no quarrel. Au contraire, they were good trees and bore profusely.Forgot about putting the lime on Craig’s list temporarily and finding a new home for the balky thing.

Apparently the deva in charge of this tree has a wicked sense of humor--why am I not surprised?

The lime tree today  covered with blossoms . Bees are clustered on it. ….. okay, okay….flowers are being pollinated. Can’t give it away--- now. Score: Lime 3, this gardener 0.
Chastened--- resolve to be more respectful of plant communications in the future.
Scrub Jay W
 Standing in the kitchen door, brooding over defeat at hands of lime tree when Cheeky Bird whisks into the kitchen past my ear, lands on the counter and squawks at me. Cheeky Bird is a scrub jay who has trained the entire household to give him peanuts---or else.
(This is a w common photo, but since to the uninitiated eye, coastal Western scrub jays all look alike…. Cheeky does not trust cameras.) What is so remarkable about Cheeky Bird is that he has taught 2 generations of offspring to :
1) recognize the peanut givers from the non-peanut givers in the household (2 to 2)
2) Get the peanuts by sitting on the handle of a basket ---but not come in the kitchen. Instead the offspring make a small chuckling noise as if to say, “I’m here, waiting…” whereas Cheeky  himself is noisy demanding and unabashed about coming into the house.

 Cheeky is a corvid. The group includes ravens, crows and jays. Crows and ravens have been studied pretty extensively-- see on Ravens.
 The U of Oregon did a whole documentary on crows (called, believe it or not, Crows) which played at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The scientists at U OR were rather astonished to find crows recognize individual human faces, have "culture" , teach their young to recognize the good guys from the bad guys.

 So far as I know, jay birds are bereft of a scientific study on their intelligence, but size doesn't count. Jays recognize individual faces, and teach their offspring to recognize people just as crows do. It's also been established jays and crows have episodic memory---they don't forget where they put their car keys....

Next: a new super hero---- Alexander von Humboldt


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