Botany Blueprint: The Hawaiian Cotton Tree

Specimen #21: Hawaiian Cotton Tree (Kokia drynarioides) Although it is an ancestor of the well-traveled modern cotton, Kokia drynarioides, a Hawaiian endemic, has most likely not left the island on which it evolved. You might say there are worse places to be bound, than a sunny spot on leeward Hawai’i, but botanists consider it...

Regional Design Awards Winners 2016: Southwest

The Regional Design Awards is America’s preeminent design competition. View the winners of the 2016 RDA from the Southwest below, or enter the 2017 Regional Design Awards. << Back to the 2016 RDA Winners Homepage Southwest Regional Design Awards What exactly does the famous 1989 debate between design greats Tibor Kalman and Joe Duffy...

Botany Blueprint: The Lipstick Tree

Specimen #26: Lipstick Tree (Bixa orellana) The fruits from Bixa orellana, a small tree native to tropical America, are designed with exhortations. Two distinct messages are delivered in succession: first, a threat; then, an invitation. A heart-shaped capsule is the first thing a forager will notice. Covered in spines, the fruit is a warning:...

The G Spot

Intellectual property is a terrible thing to waste. Gucci is one of the many big brands to keep their lawyers in sports cars and lobster cocktails. Here is a sampling from the past few years of IP litigation. 2012/ Last week Gucci went to court today to settle a dispute over Guess’s alleged infringement...

Botany Blueprint: Wood Rose

Specimen #20: Wood Rose (Merremia tuberosa) Elegant and aged, the wood rose capsule is the dowager of the garden. In her youth, she was pretty enough—a tubular yellow flower that was lovely, but hardly memorable—but now, in her senescence, she has acquired a certain noble grace. The sunny callow blossom has been replaced by...

Botany Blueprint: Australian Blackwood

Specimen #19: Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) The world is filled with wattles—1350 species, more or less. Of the Acacia genus, in the Mimosa family, wattle trees often have little puffy flowers and long seed pods. 600 are native to Australia, but many, such as Australian Blackwood, have been introduced throughout the world. A hardy...

Botany Blueprint: California Sycamore

Specimen #17: California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa) e love the sycamore for its large leaves and cool canopy, and for a curious bark that peels to reveal a mottled pattern of greys and browns. However, we are not so sure about its fruits—at least, that’s what I heard from a fellow Angeleno, who happened to...

Botany Blueprint: The Mountain Mahogany

Specimen #12: Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) he mountain mahogany’s spiraling seeds are designed for flight. Affixed with a silver-haired coiled plume, they remain nested in their dried tubular calyx until the suggestion of wind exhorts an inclination to disperse. While this is a perfect adaptation for mountain top life and its strong late summer...

Botany Blueprint: The Golden Rain Tree

Specimen #11: Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) asy on the eyes and light in the wind, the golden rain tree’s seed cases are a perfect example of well-designed vessels. The inflated papery capsules balloon like iridescent bubbles, but do not mistake them for fragile travelers. The fruit’s fibrous skins are deceptively thick and durable,...

Botany Blueprint: The Castor Bean

Specimen #10: Castor bean, Ricinus communis eaders of a certain generation might be all too familiar with Ricinus communis. The formidable shrub is more commonly known as the castor bean, a plant whose list of economic derivatives includes, most notably, castor oil. Once considered a cure-all elixir, castor oil has been used to remedy...