Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned (& Mystery Yucca “Bug” Identified.)

Remember the tiny, mysterious creatures from Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes?  While I was busy tracking down an identification, they were busily weaving away:

Neoscona Arabesca, Vero Beach, Fl. 3/2/14,

…and then there were 4

…but what exactly ARE they?
Google research didn’t get me far, so I reached out to George Rogers, Ph.D., co-author of Treasure Coast Natives and Chairman of Horticulture at Palm Beach State.  He relayed my photos to Bill Schall in the Palm Beach County Horticulture Extension Office, and to John Bradford, his TCN co-author and avid naturalist. On the evening of 2/26, Bill sent the following via email:
 It is a small, non poisonous spider probably of the species Neoscona arabesca, also known as the Arabesque Orbweaver. Not sure if the common name is any easier than the scientific name! Maybe just remember Orbweaver. The symmetrical suspended white structures are the insect prey enveloped by the spider webbing. These spiders are very common in southern Florida. Thanks to Dr. Bill Kern for the identification. – Bill

The next photo, taken in bright sunlight an hour ago, better illuminates the captured prey:

Neocsona arabesca, Vero Beach, FL. 3/2/14

RIP unfortunate victims!

Big “ups” to George, John, and the Bills, for solving my little mystery. At this point I’d be remiss for not mentioning the GREAT photography at The Trail to the River, John Bradford’s blog about the nature trails in Savannas Preserve State Park. Do check it out when you get a chance!

Switching gears to this week’s photo challenge

As so often happens, I have the PERFECT subject for this week’s topic, but it requires a bit of backstory.

Last fall, Maggie wanted to plant sweet potatoes in big sacks, so I bid on a seed potato during our November Plant Auction.  When I got home, I set it at the edge of the patio garden, assuming she’d grab it over Thanksgiving…but she forgot. No biggie, I figured, she’ll take it on my birthday in 2 weeks.  Nope! Forgotten again! Soon it was Christmas, and we BOTH forgot….then the New Year came and went….but the potato stayed…You see where this is going!!!!???!!!


So I’m outside in the yard a few days ago, and notice some gorgeous leaves:

ipomoea batatas foliage close-up 2/28/14

Assuming they were morning glories I planted wayyyyyyy back when, I followed the length of the vine to determine if the origin point was where i thought it should be….

ipomoea batatas foliage 2/28/14

What just caught YOUR eye (opposite the red-edged canna leaf) caught mine at the time, so I spread the leaves to investigate:

ipomoea batatas, 2/28/14

Oh NO!!!!  Our abandoned sweet potato!  It sure seems healthy, despite the cold and neglect!

I’m not a vegetable gardener because I REALLY dislike eating vegetables! Just the smell of sweet potatoes, or cabbage or carrots–any of them–boiling on a stove makes me gag (seriously!)   But seeing it got this far….what happens next?  Will it somehow grow potatoes, or did I miss the opportunity?  I tried lifting it up but it’s rooted (very strongly) to the ground beneath: is this where the potatoes grow, off that taproot?  Yes, I’m aware I’m embarrassing myself!  Of course, I posed the same slew of questions to Maggie. Her reply?  “I have NO clue..I never even bought the sacks!”

Potato AND project completely abandoned!

Ipomoea batatas, sweet potato vine,2/28/14

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂

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30 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned (& Mystery Yucca “Bug” Identified.)

    • Isn’t that just awful? I really do! My stomach seriously turns over cooked veggies. I can eat cold carrot and celery sticks and like regular white baked/mashed potatoes, but when it comes to anything boiled or mushy? <—-Insert full body shiver here!

      • You need to get a steamer. I only steam veges these days…and i love the way they keep some crunch and loads of flavour. try it !!! A steamer makes a huge change to their texture and taste.

  1. I have never seen a sweet potato like that.. the ones I know grow as rhizome with the potato under ground and one crops them like normal potatoes… this is most unusual to me…

    • hahaha actually I think this is what happens when you don’t do it right! They’re very definately supposed to grow under ground. I have a feeling you don’t just plop the seed potato on top of the soil and hope for the best! hahahaha..Something def ain’t right here!

  2. I don’t know anything about sweet potatoes except that I love them, this will be interesting and if they make it I think they at least deserve to be eaten 😉

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  4. The sweet potato is so sexy 😀
    I and my bos love sweet potato, I used to fry it with wheat flour, then served it with a cup of tea. Eumm… I already missing the moment. 😀
    But those green leafes now take me back in time when I was kids. My grand parents often made me some soup with the leafe of sweet potato. 😉

  5. I’ve grown sweet potatoes 🙂 Not as successfully as you though! That is a monster vine, well abandoned I say 🙂
    anyway, yes the sweet potatoes will be in the ground, so you will have to get your garden fork out and gently loosed/dig the soil around and under the vine – just think of it as digging for gold or treasure and you’ll have great fun finding all the hidden treasures! They normally take a few months to mature so looking at the size of the vine it may be ready for pulling up – normally I’d pull a vine when temperatures in summer start dipping and the vine has pretty much stopped growing – however in your case it seems to be the opposite 🙂

    • This is VERY good news! I was thinking I just had another ornamental vine going and we missed the chance to get anything edible. I’m passing your comment along to Maggie who’s project this was in the first place!
      Thank you, Claire!!!

  6. I had something similar – but different (good luck following THAT logic) happen. I had peeled potatoes for mashed potatoes (I know, SHUDDER) and threw the peels into my compost bucket. Not terribly long thereafter, I dug a hole in my flower bed and tossed the “compost” in. Imagine my surprise when up popped this lovely vine. (Betcha know where this is going.) Sure enough, I ended up harvesting some of the sweetest-looking little potatoes. This would never have worked if I’d tried.

    • Hahahaha! what a great story, and I followed your logic completely…God only knows what THAT means!
      So bottom line, it seems, is abandoned potatos make more of themselves in spite of us!! 🙂

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  8. I know nothing about growing sweet potatoes, but I know I love eating them! Is there something about Massachusetts that causes an aversion to veggies? Because I had a roommate in college from Boston, and she hated vegetables except for regular potatoes (which really don’t count as greens!).

    • LOL no way! Your former roomie and I have a lot in common–white potatoes good….leafy greens, orange “sticks” and the smell of spinach or cabbage boiling on the stove? Bad!
      Jo (commenter above) gave me a good suggestion: invest in a steamer.

      My main objection is the smell and texture of vegetables boiled on the stove. A steamer might mitigate that….and improve my nutrition! 🙂

  9. Well that sweet potato sure doesn’t look abandoned! Love the leaves and I love a baked sweet potato and sweet potato fries. That lovely combination of sweet and salty! So they are spiders! I am guessing you are going to let them stay?!!! Good Morning!

    • Good Morning to you too!
      Yes, the little spiders aren’t harmful to the yucca; they seem entrenched there and I’d hate to disturb them!
      You know I like sweet potato fries, too! One of our local restaurants dishes up a mean platter of them…cheap, too. Maybe I DON’T mind this particular veggie…at least not as much as the others! 😉

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