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You’re invited to the Tiny Haus at the Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin’s coolest community garden (where you can drink beer between trees), for an exhibition this Saturday and Sunday, 2-5pm (September 3-4). Drawings and herbarium specimens will fill the room, made by students from the past two Botanical Drawing Workshops taught by my friend and fellow urban plant lover, Mira O’Brien.

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Tiny vine growing in the middle metal steps. By Martin Hill.

On the metal stairs at the Berlin-Karlshorst train station, between the S-Bahn and regional train platforms, our faithful correspondent Martin Hill “tripped over” this specimen on his way to work. Continue Reading »

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Oahu-based public artist Gaye Chan once told me and Marko that we were part of her lost tribe. If by that she means we are into Free Stores, foraging free food, and eating weeds, then yes, we are! Continue Reading »

Rustic lei made of German wildflowers and plants.

Sorry so silent! I’ve been busy arranging flowers in Honolulu, Beacon (where another Urban Plant Researcher recently wed!) and the German countryside, sometimes into bouquets and more often into lei.

Mahalo to the Hui Hana Lei Ladies who taught me to make haku lei in my last month in Hawaii. If you’re on Oahu, please visit their annual lei-making class this Thursday. I just posted about my experience making lei with the lei ladies, and more about their class, here on my other blog, Local Color.

About a year ago, I reported a hairy house near the Castro and the Mission Districts in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve seen other exteriors covered in similar plant matter. Not as hairy as last year’s encounter, but striking in a similar manner. Most of these were found in my neighborhood so I’d be curious what I might discover in other parts of the city. Have fun taking a virtual tour of these plant covered buildings or see them in person. I’ve noted the cross streets below. Also, feel free to share any other ones you may come across in your city.

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16th St. & South Van Ness St., San Francisco: A mosaic of plants – a work in progress?

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Exterior details

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Came upon these handy guides for campers and outdoorspeople on Edible Plants and Poisonous Plants in the Wilderness. I’m about to move across two oceans so I would like to give them away to any loyal reader or contributor to this blog. They are pocket-sized and come with handy protective sleeves for your outdoor adventures. Please post a comment if you’re interested, and email your shopping address to urbanplantresearch at gmail dot com. 

Sausage-like fruits hanging from the sausage tree at the UH Manoa campus/arboretum.

Sausage tree.

Towering tropical trees, from ulu (breadfruit) to rainbow shower, amaze me every time I visit the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus here in Honolulu. “It’s like a botanical garden,” I was just saying yesterday. Today, the local newspaper announced that the campus has just received international accreditation as an arboretum: one of only 135 in the world!

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Giant poplar tree in a graveyard in Berlin, Friedrichshain from Monumentaltrees.com.

Do you like big, old trees? Well, you can find 22,446 big and old trees (with more posted every day) on the amazing international Monumental Trees website. My colleague, the writer and literary translator Isabel Cole, posted some great Berlin trees from the site today, and I knew I had to share this resource with you. monumentaltrees.com

Above: a giant black poplar in a graveyard in Berlin-Friedrichshain at Landsberger Allee and Friedenstraße. This graveyard used to be my backyard.

Have fun combing the website for big trees in your area, or making a virtual world tour of momentous trees. Do post the link below if you find any special specimens.

New year, new plants

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Please welcome two new guests. Starting from the left to the right: a Mickey Mouse cactus and a rubber plant, courtesy of the San Francisco Flower Mart. I’ve been on a hunt for new houseplants and had a field day making my selections.

The disc-like shape of the Mickey Mouse cactus was comical and unexpected at first sight. After chatting with the shopkeeper, I learned that the cactus will grow ears. The number of ears is a mystery but a Google image search yields humorous and unpredictable results (Mutant Mickeys!). I also learned that each ear can propagate when cut from the main cactus pad so I’m wondering how many Mickeys can be made by the end of the year. As far as the rubber plant goes, the maintenance is a bit different from some of my other houseplants. In addition to watering the plant, it is common to wipe down its leaves as they are thick and rubbery and have a tendency to collect dust and residue from the elements. In a way, this plant feels a bit like furniture.

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Nice to Meet You

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — We are pleased to provide urban plant reporting from San Francisco. As residents of this city for more than eight years, we have witnessed urban plants – large and small. We look forward to sharing more plant sightings from our foggy city.

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The manicured bushes of Noe Valley.

Megan likes plants a lot, especially ones she can eat. She keeps a modest balcony garden in her Mission apartment. Its current resident is curly parsley.

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Pasta soon?

Phoebe likes plants in surprising or comical situations. As a woodworker, she also keeps an eye out for fallen city trees.

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Looks like a lot of cutting boards.

Stay tuned for more!

– Megan & Phoebe