Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spider and Portulacas

I see many of these small green gold garden spiders this year. I've not seen them previously so I wonder why the sudden appearance? Although they are tiny, their bright green and gold metallic bodies really catches your eye.

If you click on the photo to see an enlargement, you can see some tiny hairs on the spider's hind legs, close to the body, that look like tiny combs or half of fish skeletons.

I know, I know, Portulacas are common as sin but I like them anyway, especially when their relative the Lewisia doesn't seem like it will bloom this year. I also planted some Lewisia rediviva from seed but unlike it's weedy cousin Portulaca oleracea, the common purslane, it has yet to sprout. I think the planting instruction said it could take up to 4 months for germination!


Blogger Entangled said...

I think the spider is an Orchard Spider. I didn't know what it was without looking it up, but got lucky searching for "iridescent spider" on bugguide.net.

I love the clear and cheerful colors of portulaca, but didn't get around to planting any this year.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Ha! Kia, you have the orchard spiders and I have the orchard orioles! As common as these birds are supposed to be I've never seen one before this year. I feel honored to have it nesting in one of my trees.

As far as the Portulacas -- personally, I wouldn't read a whole lot into someone thinking that they are common as sin. I love Portulacas. The flower is simply exquisit and they can tolerate very dry conditions. Enjoy them. I think they're worth having, common or not.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Wow, that was fast work, Entangled. The spiders do weave a very nice web so it's understandable why they're called "Orchard Orbweaver". Thanks for the ID and BugGuide link. The fringe hairs on the back leg was definitive. Now I wonder why there seems to be so many this year when I had not seen them previously? I don't think I was that unobservant during all those years past ;)

We bought several 6 packs of portulacas this year and they turned out to be a wonderful variety. Some from two years ago are also starting to show themselves. I guess these are from seed. Thanks again for the spider ID.


Hi Julie,
Hey, I'll trade you all my spiders for your Oriole! Unfortunately, I saw my first and only oriole in the Eastern shore of Maryland. do the orchard orioles build pendant nests like the Baltimore oriole?

We do plant other very common annuals so why not portulacas - indeed. They are bright and definitely worth the minimal effort it takes to grown them. Thanks for your comment.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Les, Zone 8a said...

I like portulaca, especially how drought tolerant they are. My only complaint would be that they close up on excessively cloudy days and at night. So if you work all day you miss the show. It is one of my earliest flower memories. When I was a kid, my dad bordered our gravel driveway with skinny cinder blocks, and my mom filled the voids in the block with potting soil and planted portulaca.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Green and gold spiders, no... plain pale green ones, yes.

Portulaca was good enough for Henry Mitchell which makes it a classic plant - I love it and have it planted in a few places, Ki.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

8:45 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Les,
Yeah, they don't like the night or cloudy days but they are cheerful on most summer days so I don't mind the occasional shyness.

The driveway border your Mom planted must have been quite a sight. I can believe why it would be one of your earliest awareness of flowers.

Hi Annie,
I've seen a few delicate pale green spiders since we've lived here but they are not orb weavers so remain rather inconspicuous. Usually spiders give me the heebie jeebies. I think it's the fat bodies on those spindly legs that I don't like but the orchard spiders are so small and pretty, I rather like them. Plus they eat mosquitoes (especially the Asian Tiger day biting mosquito) so yay.

Good to know my taste in flowers are also favored by those in exalted realms =:) Now it makes me wonder how many different types of portulaca there are - better not go there - the collector in me can't help but think that way...unfortunately. Being drought tolerant makes it a handy plant to have for those tough constantly dry spots where you want some color.

3:44 AM  
Blogger joco said...

Hiya Ki,

They seem exotic flowers to me, and I would love to try some over in the UK. But after what Les said about them needing bright light, I think I won't bother: cloudy if not wet every day as long as I can remember.

I wonder, would they do well under a lamp indoors? I am growing more and more annuals in the house on my windowsills, rather than use them as snail food, and they all thrive.

Are spiders always beneficial in the garden or are there vegetarian ones?

4:24 AM  
Blogger Julie said...



Though the sources says this is a very common oriole in this area, it is not one I've seen before this. They are listed as sparrow size, but are actually a little larger than a sparrow but smaller than a robin.

The pair came only after we'd planted our final large shade tree, a sweetgum and they have their nest hanging in the tallest part of the young tree. There is no way you could possibly see inside that nest and even when the female is in it, unless she sticks her head out of it, you don't know she's there.

I saw the male first and I knew right away it wasn't a robin because of it's size and color. But it was when I saw the female that I knew it was an oriole. I was always under the impression there were two orioles, East and West. The Eastern or Baltimore Oriole is very common here and easily seen. I was surprised to see there are several species of orioles.

I am very honored to have this pair in my garden and hope that they fledge that nest. If they do, they might come back next year to nest again.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hallo Joco,
I thought since they cleaned up the coal burning in Britain, the fog, smog and gloom disappeared or at least was attenuated...but apparently not so? Do you have the weed purslane? I guess the French and some other European countries treat it as a culinary treat in salads etc. but if you can grow it perhaps portulaca might also grow in the sunniest places you can manage. Or you can use them as escargot bait outdoors.

I know the male mosquitos are vegans but don't know about spiders.


Hi Julie,
Thanks for the Cornell link. It cool that the male and female orioles have different color plumage. I think in this case the guy got the short end of the stick as I find the female much more attractive.

How lucky to have those birds choose your newly planted tree for their nest. Around here we mostly see only the most common kinds of birds. Once in a while a flicker, or Carolina wren will show up and once, even a vireo of some kind flitted in our rhododendrons. Even the usual one sighting of the ruby throat we see each year did not materialize last year, cheez. Oh well I hope you post some pics of your wonderful residents. I'm green with envy.

5:17 PM  
Blogger joco said...

Clouds, not smog.
Lovely fresh clouds,overcast. I have absolutely adored this spring weather: never warmer than 20C and rain enough not to have to water. The cloud formations are superb every day, and we have 20.000 acres of wonderful sky to look at.
But...not good for portulaca or purslane. Who needs purslane anyways, when you can feast on strawberries and raspberries:-)

8:08 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

I am with you on the portulacas... some of my favorites. I tend to plant them in solid blocks of color, but my grandmother likes to plant a bunch of different colors in her little street-light boxes and they look wonderful in a mix, too.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Joco,
Ooof, we've had several days of steamy humid 90's already. We were close to a 100F a couple of weeks ago even before summer started!


Hi Kim,
The portulacas in the pot seemed to grow faster and bloom earlier that ones we planted in the ground but those are coming along nicely now too. We always forget the rule to plant like things in groups rather than single plants scattered here and there or worst of all, planted in a line which we've been known to do on occasion - well, more than we care to admit. ;) Your grandma's planters must look quite wonderfully colorful with the 'lacas in the mix!

6:50 AM  

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