Botany: trees in Victoria: live oak

Tree idenitification leads to self-tutoring: the tutor describes a find in Victoria.

Victoria’s assortment of trees is amazing. Last fall I mentioned seeing a gingko biloba as well as an amur corktree there.

I’ve read a few times that there is a live oak on Dallas Road, near the breakwater. Yesterday I decided to drive by to check.

Indeed, there is one, I’d say: it’s across Dallas Road from the breakwater, a bit closer to downtown. It’s really noticeable right now, being the only tree around with leaves.

The tree leans out to the road. I left the car and walked by it, then back, not really stopping. The house owner (my assumption) was sitting in the yard, so I didn’t want to intrude by stopping and staring at the tree. He gave me a friendly nod; I think he knew I was examining the tree. I think people commonly do.

Thanks, Vic!

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English, botany: what is a pomologist?

More self-tutoring: the tutor shares a term he discovered today.

pomologist (noun):
one engaged in pomology, which is the science occupied with fruit itself, and/or its production.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Botany: where did peanuts originate?

Thinking about common foods can lead to self-tutoring. The tutor shares his find about where peanuts originate.

peanut origin

Peanuts originate from South America. Likely they were first domesticated in Bolivia or Argentina. The Portuguese, who colonized Brazil, brought peanuts to be cultivated in Africa.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Biology, composting: immobilization vs mineralization

Organic groundskeeping leads to self-tutoring. The tutor defines two terms connected with composting.

In a properly functioning ecosystem, nutrients are constantly recycled – they are used by one organism, then released back to the soil to be retaken by another.

Immobilisation is the temporary possession of a nutrient by an organism (typically not a plant, but rather a decomposer). The decomposer needs the nutrient for its own life process. While the decomposer is alive, the nutrient it contains is unavailable to the surrounding plants.

Mineralization is release of nutrients to the environment. Now they are available to plants.

The eventual result of decomposition is mineralization. During decomposition, however, immobilization may happen.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Tree identification: amur corktree (Phellodendron amurence)

Tree identification leads to more self-tutoring. The tutor mentions a find of an amur corktree in Victoria.

Nowhere seems better than Victoria to find particular trees. Down there last weekend, I had very little opportunity to tree-hunt. Yet, a few caught my eye.

The amur corktree features compound leaves with black berries; I know no other tree with that combination.

It’s my impression that, near Craigdarroch Castle, I saw at least one such tree.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Tree identification: ginkgo biloba

Tree identification leads to self-tutoring. The tutor shares a find from Victoria.

Down in Victoria the weekend, I noticed a tree with fan-shaped leaves. I believe I saw one or more right downtown, around the Government/Yates area.

I suppose the tree is the ginkgo biloba. Apparently it’s a common ornamental in North America. The ones in Vic are the first I’ve seen.


Eslkevin’s Blog

Brockman, Merrilees, and Zim. Trees of North America: A field guide to identification. New York: Golden Press, 1968.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: more about apple picking: are apples touching the ground still good?

Tutoring science, you accompany people along investigations. The tutor shares one of his own.

I’ve always suspected that, when an apple is touching the ground, it’s likely been attacked by pests, so best left alone.

This growing season our apple tree grew so heavy with fruit that the branches bent downward. Indeed, many apples at the ends of branches ended up resting on the ground. I suspected those apples would be damaged.

Yesterday I decided to check my assumption’s validity, and I stand corrected. The apples resting on the ground, yet still attached to the tree, were typically undamaged. In fact, they may have been, statistically, at less risk to damage than those above the ground.

I wondered why apples resting on the ground (but still attached to the tree) might have better chance of being pest-free than those off the ground; at first, the idea didn’t make sense.

However, when an apple comes to rest on the ground, it is then traveled by ground-dwelling predators – spiders, for example – that eat pests. Perhaps the predators on the ground are more efficient, and numerous, than those in the tree. Once an apple touches the ground, they might take over and destroy pests on it.

Of course, apples that aren’t attached to the tree are typically damaged: that’s why, I assume, they would fall off in the first place. They’re not damaged because they’re touching the ground; rather, they’re touching the ground because they’re damaged. Ones still are attached to the tree, but have just come to rest on the ground, are typically in good shape – that’s what I’ve found, anyway.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle, botany: apple percent yield

Yard work is constant self-tutoring. The tutor shares some statistics about this year’s apple yield.

I finally finished picking apples from the backyard tree today. I estimate that we kept 688; another 160 are left on the tree or the ground, having bugs in them.

We don’t use any pesticides; therefore, I’m impressed that 688/(688+160) = 688/848 = 81% of the apples are fit to eat.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Biology: what is a cultivar?

Horticulture can lead the amateur to self-tutoring. The tutor discusses the idea of a cultivar.

Cultivar literally means “cultivated variety.”1 In my mind it refers to a plant commonly grown, that you, also, can buy and grow, either as seed or already a plant.

A cultivar may be grown for fruit, beauty or other benefit. However, offspring from its seeds may – but may not – emulate its own qualities. Similarly, the cultivar may not reflect its parents’ traits. It may have been chosen and propagated specifically because, in some desirable way, it broke from its parents’ characteristics.

Seedless grapes or oranges might be examples of cultivars. Apparently, the tree that produces seedless oranges cannot self-propagate by pollination. Perhaps it can be reproduced by cuttings; another option might be grafting. However it’s propagated, the seedless orange tree is cultivated – hence, a cultivar.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English, biology: one definition of sport

Tutoring any subject, definitions are important. The tutor shares a meaning of sport he recently discovered.

The term sport, referring to a physical game, is well understood. However, I encountered sport used in a horticultural context, so looked it up:

sport (noun): an individual obviously different from its peers – for example, because of a mutation.


Mish, Frederick C (editor). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 2004.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.