Poker Phase

Call?  Check?  Raise?  Fold?  Grow?  Wait.  What?  Grow?!!

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Depending on the game variant being played, poker is based on the "hand" that is dealt to you or the "hand" that you construct.  The best hand, of course, is the Royal Flush composed of the 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace cards of a single suit.

Poker Hand Rankings by Blaine Rumsey, on Flickr. Used through Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The lowest kind of flush is, well, a Flush.  This is a hand composed of any five cards of the same suit, not necessarily consecutive.  Easier to achieve than a Full House, the probability of getting a Flush is 1 in 509.

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With cycads, a different kind of flush is involved.

When cycads grow a number of leaves together, this is called a flush.  

Unlike other plants that grow leaves on an almost daily basis, cycads make only 1 to 3 leaf flushes a year, depending on species and maturity.  

Yes, that infrequent.

So, with all the information above, what are the odds that I will have 5 different species of cycads simultaneously flushing leaves?  

These pictures were taken at opportune moments (a.k.a. sunny days) from August 21 to September 4, 2011.

Plant #1.  Dioon mejiae

Two pots of D. mejiae in the early stages of flushing.  (August 21, 2011)

During a flush, the leaves push out of the caudex together . . . 

. . . then separate into individual leaves.

The emerging leaves are "hairy".  These are known as trichomes.

The leaves open up.  The trichomes are shed as the leaf gradually matures.

A new set of leaves. (September 4, 2011)  Young leaves are light green and still hairy.  Mature leaves are dark green.

Plant #2.  Encephalartos hildebrandtii

A younger plant may produce leaves one at a time.  You can see some of the older leaves still have trichomes.  (August 31, 2011)

You can see the differences in the different stages of leaf maturity.  Younger leaves are brown with fine white hairs and the mature leaves are bright green and glossy.

Plant #3.  Zamia roezlii

A more pronounced difference in colouration of new leaves is seen in the Z. roezlii.  The emerging leaves are a beautiful bronze color.

You can see in the photo below how the leaves emerging from the center of the caudex are bronze versus the outer, older leaves which are green. (September 4, 2011)

Plant #4.  Encephalartos kisambo

Trichomes on the new leaves as they emerge from the caudex. (August 31, 2011)

Again, a difference in colouration, although much less dramatic than the Z. roezlii.  The younger leaf (left) is a lighter colour than the older leaf (right)

The more mature leaves have a bluish green color.

Plant #5.  Genus Cycas (species ID unknown)

Majestic flush. (August 31, 2011)

All the new leaves open and enjoying one of the rare days of sunshine.  (September 4, 2011)

The phase of flushing leaves in my plants makes me happy.  Maybe even more than getting a hand of Flush at poker.  Or maybe that would depend on the pot and the other players' hands.

Still, I got dealt a pretty good hand in my garden, wouldn't you agree?


For more Macro Monday, head on over to Lisa's blog

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