Two species of ‘shootless’ orchids from Florida, Dendrophylax lindenii and D. porrectus. These intriguing epiphytes lack fully-developed leaves, and instead use their pale-green roots to photosynthesise.
Prairies – those critically endangered and complex ecosystems understood by few and misunderstood and destroyed by millions of people.
Lawns – those myopically obsessive (and evil) urban, suburban, and increasingly rural monoculture eyesores that displace native ecosystems at a rate of 5,000 acres per day in favor of sterile, chemically-filled, artificial environments bloated with a tremendous European influence that provide no benefits over the long term; no food, no clean water, no wildlife habitat, and no foundation for preserving our once rich natural heritage.
As one internet commenter named Carrie eloquently said, “as a nation, we have far too much lawn doing far too little for us.”
How much lawn is too much? 41 million acres. That figure makes lawn the most widespread plant under irrigation in the contiguous US. Three times more acreage is covered in lawn than in corn. All of that once precious water used on those 41 million acres of ridiculous, non-native turfgrass to keep it unnaturally green – how can people be so blind?
Lawns, along with row-crop farms, “improved” grazing pastures, and urbanization, are some of the biggest negative land conversions of native landscapes, and are direct contributors to the destruction of wildlife and native plant habitats throughout the world. As native landscapes disappear, wildlife disappears, and important ecological processes that insure outcomes such as clean drinking water, climate change buffers, and flood control also disappear. The future of mankind depends heavily upon the health of native landscapes…
The Academic Decline: How to Train the Next Generation of Botanists
Although federal agencies need educated botanists, only a handful of colleges still have botany programs
by Allie Bidwell
Krissa Skogen is a conservation scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where she spends her days researching a family of plants known as the evening primrose.
She and her colleagues study different features of more than 100 species of the sunny yellow flowers: How big are their petals? How much nectar do they produce? What combination of compounds in their fragrance attracts the most pollinators?
While it might seem like a particularly nuanced job for only a certain niche, Skogen says understanding the relationship between plants and their pollinators can have a large effect on other sectors.
"Only through having that information can you then make predictions about what might happen if we lose some of the pollinators or some of the plants, what the consequences might be," Skogen says.
Put another way, how would food crops that rely on bee pollination – such as pumpkins, peaches, apples tomatoes and avocados – be affected by losing a species of bees?
That’s one application of studying botany in college.
But more and more, colleges and universities are getting rid of their botany programs, either by consolidating them with zoology and biology departments, or eliminating them altogether because of a lack of faculty, funds or sometimes interest. And at the same time, many trained botanists in federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, are nearing retirement age, and those agencies are clamoring for new talent…
The range of Pinus albicaulis reaches from British Columbia in the north to Nevada in the south. It is a keystone species, meaning that it has a highly significant effect on its ecosystem in relation to its abundance. It can tolerate high winds better than other pine species, and helps to regulate meltwater runoff and soil erosion. Some trees live over 1,000 years, and most don’t begin to produce cones until at least 30 years old...
This is the bladder trap of an aquatic bladderwort under a microscope. Believe it or not, this is a modified leaf! It creates a vacuum inside the tiny balloon shaped leaf. The long guide hairs help swimming creatures find their way to the mouth, which is darker in this photo. When something approaches the mouth opens and the sides of the bladder pop out sucking the unfortunate victim in at 1/5000 of a second! It’s one of the fastest most complicated things in nature and it is still not clearly understood!
Though I have posted this before, I really love the science that these people are uncovering…
How Trees Commmunicate
Researchers at the University of British Columbia are concluding that trees are interacting with one another in a symbiotic relationship that helps the trees to survive. Connected by fungi, the underground root systems of plants and trees are transferring carbon and nitrogen back and forth between each other in a network of subtle communication. Similar to the network of neurons and axons in the human brain, the network of fungi, roots, soil and micro-organisms beneath the larger ‘mother trees’ gives the forest its own consciousness.
Continuing with my posts about parasitic plants, this is Indian Pipes, Monotropa uniflora.
It is a holoparasite, because it has no chlorophyll. It leeches nutrients off of mycorrhizal fungi, which are fungi that have symbiotic relationships with trees. It grows in temperate areas of Asia, North America and South America. It is rare, and hard to cultivate because of the specific growth conditions it requires. [x]
Kingdom : Plantae Subkingdom : Embryophyta Clade : Polysporangiophyta Division : Tracheophyta Genus : Cooksonia Species : C. pertoni, C. hemisphaerica, C. cambrensis, C. bohemica, C. paranensis, C. banksii
Only the sporophyte phase of Cooksonia is currently known (i.e. the phase which produces spores rather than gametes). Individuals were small, a few centimetres tall, and had a simple structure. They lacked leaves, flowers and roots — although it has been speculated that they grew from an unpreserved rhizome.
They had a simple stalk that branched dichotomously a few times. Each branch ended in a sporangium or spore-bearing capsule. In his original description of the genus, Lang described the sporangia as flattened, “with terminal sporangia that are short and wide”, and in the species Cooksonia pertoni “considerably wider than high”…
Meet Nepenthes bicalcarata, the Fanged Pitcher Plant.
Endemic to northwestern Borneo, this large pitcher plant is distinguished from all other Nepenthes by the two menacing fang-like spines projecting downward from its lid. These spines bear some of the largest nectaries in the plant kingdom. They likely serve to lure insects into a precarious position over the pitcher mouth, where they may lose their footing and fall into the pitcher fluid, eventually drowning.
Money may not grow on trees, but gold does—or at least it accumulates inside of them. Scientists have found that trees growing over deeply buried deposits of gold ore sport leaves with higher-than-normal concentrations of the glittering element. The finding provides an inexpensive, excavation-free way to narrow the search for ore deposits.
Scientists have long had clues that trees and other vegetation pulled gold from the soil and transported it to their leaves, but the evidence wasn’t clear. The gold particles could have stuck to the leaves after being blown there as dust, for example. To bolster the case that the gold came from soil beneath the trees, researchers conducted a series of field studies and lab tests…
Rising sea levels are transforming the Florida Everglades, a new study shows. Plant communities that thrive in salt water are expanding along the coast, leaving less room for plants that depend on fresh water.
Salt-loving mangroves in the Everglades have marched inland in the past decade, while freshwater plants — such as saw grass, spike rush and tropical hardwood trees — lost ground, according to a study published in the October 2013 issue of the journal Wetlands…
… is a tropical pitcher plant native to lowland forests in Southeast Asia. This carnivorous plant lures insects into its pitchers through sweet-tasting secretions. The walls of the pitcher are too slippery for the prey to climb out, and they drown in the pitcher liquid. Digestive enzymes break down the prey and release soluble nutrients, which are absorbed by the plant through the walls of the pitcher.