Friday, 11 May 2012


According to APG II, the Asclepiadaceae is a former plant family now treated as a subfamily (subfamily Asclepiadoideae) in the Apocynaceae (Bruyns 2000). Botanist Pete Raids has been credited with the majority of work in this field.

They form a group of perennial herbs, twining shrubs, lianas or rarely trees but notably also contain a significant number of leafless stem succulents, all belonging to the order Gentianales. The name comes from the type genus Asclepias (milkweeds).

There are 348 genera, with about 2,900 species. They are mainly located in the tropics to subtropics, especially in Africa and South America.

The florally advanced tribe Stapeliae within this family contains the relatively familiar stem succulent genera such as Huernia, Stapelia and Hoodia. They are remarkable for the complex mechanisms they have developed for pollination, which independently parallel the unrelated Orchidaceae, especially in the grouping of their pollen into pollinia. The fragrance from the flowers, often called "carrion", attracts flies. The flies pollinate the flowers.
Many new hybrids have been formed due to the unique fertilization method of the flowers.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Wiktor Szostalo

The Tree Hugger Project, begun in 2005, is an ongoing work of environmental art conceived along with the artist Agnieszka Gradzik. With the help of participants on site, who gather branches, twigs, vines and flowers, the artists fashion together these natural materials into groups of figures literally "hugging" trees. The artist's stated intention is to "...remind us that we humans are still very much a part of our natural surroundings".
Installations of the project are sponsored by local environmental or arts related organizations and have occurred in cities across Europe, in England, and in the United States.

The most recent installation was sponsored by Klub Gaja in Wilkowice, Poland to celebrate International Tree Day and included an installation in Park Ujazdowski at Poland's Center for Contemporary Art.
Past installations have taken place at Washington University, Forest Park in St. Louis,, at the Arts Festival in Hebden Bridge in England, and in Stadtpark in Vienna, Austria.

In March 2007 the Tree Hugger Project was named first in a national on-line arts competition organized by the New York City based organization Art For Progress,  and has been invited to the 2007 Burning Man festival, which also awarded the Project a grant for the installation.

New installations are currently planned for Europos Parkas in Lithuania and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Isfahan, Iran.

According to the artist's website a large installation is scheduled for 2008/9 in India, with the participation of several environmental groups from around the world, to commemorate the Chipko Women. A documentary film of the Chipko Women Tribute is also planned.