Tag Archives: Tree Heliotrope

Feed the birds

A black-crowned night heron tries to eat a tilapia
A house finch eats tree heliotrope fruit

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Feed the Birds.’ See more responses here.

In the top photo, this ambitious juvenile black-crowned night heron snaffled a tilapia from a large backyard pond. However, that was the easy part. I watched it for quite a while, trying to swallow the fish. It flew from the pond into a tree, then on to another one, before returning to the ground beyond some rocks. The fish was still in its beak, but no closer to reaching its stomach.

In the middle photo, a house finch chows down on the fruit of a tree heliotrope (Tournefortia argentea).

In the bottom photo, a palila feeds on a mamane (Sophora chrysophylla) seed pod. Typically, a palila will grab a pod from one place and then take it to another branch to eat it. It pins the green, immature seed pod to the branch, as in this photo, and then bashes away at it with its powerful beak. The seeds are poisonous, but palilas have developed an immunity to the toxins. The brown pods in this photo won’t be eaten by palilas. They will remain on the tree for a long time before dropping and hopefully producing more trees, though mamane seeds have quite low propagation rates.

A palila eats a mamane seed pod

Fiery skipper butterfly on a tree heliotrope

This fiery skipper butterfly was feeding on top of a cluster of tree heliotrope flowers, some open, some about to bloom. It was one of a host of insects buzzing around the tree.

Posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Top.’ See more responses here.

Tree heliotrope and potter wasps

Potter Wasp Eumenes BolliiTree Heliotrope


On one of my coast walks I was surprised to find a tree that I visit regularly, abuzz with wasps and other insects. The tree is a Tree heliotrope (Heliotropium foertherianum) which, as the photos suggest, is hardy and salt tolerant. This was the first time I’d seen it with striking tentacles of flowers and berries, hence it’s other common name of Octopus bush.

The majority of the wasps attracted to the tree were potter wasps, specifically Eumenes bollii I think. They were focused on their task for which I was grateful, since I was shoving my camera quite close to them on occasion.

Potter Wasp on Tree Heliotrope