The trees are growing in open moorland along a permanent stream in volcanic rock at about 3600m. Dead leaves form an insulating layer around the trunks, protecting them from sub-freezing temperatures at night, and the viscous sap of living leaves acts as an anti-freeze. The human is 1.5m high, making the tallest plant about 8m high. Similar species are found at high altitudes in most of East Africa’s “sky islands”
Tree I.D. is a fundamental skill for anybody who is involved in the management and protection of a site. Ultimately trees are a depended on by many other species, with some species only found on certain species of tree.
Me and a fellow colleague, Al, have gone out with the distinct purpose on brushing up on out winter tree identification skills, in the Chevin Forest Park near Otley. Primarily, this involves using only bark and twigs as a source of identification. Identification of trees in winter is relatively simple, once you understand the different patterns of budding on twigs, as well as types of bark.
We cheated a bit with Britain’s two most common oak species the sessile oak (Quercus petraea) and English oak (Quercus robur), by identifying them by leaf stem as well as other features.
Here’s a few links to the location and useful books we used on the day:
ON A REMOTE ISLAND in Papua New Guinea, scientists have uncovered the world’s only known orchid to produce flowers exclusively at night that die by the next morning.
Of more than 25,000 species in the orchid, only a handful flower in the evening. The new orchid, dubbed Bulbophyllum nocturnum, is the first known one whose flowers shrivel and fall off before dawn breaks.
Dendrobium chrysopterum - discovered bybotanist Andre Schuiteman in 1990 in PNG and described by him and Ed de Vogel. Found only in the forests of Eastern New Guinea.
Plants Use Circadian Rhythms to Prepare For Battle With Insects
provided by Rice University
In a study of the molecular underpinnings of plants’ pest resistance, Rice University biologists have shown that plants both anticipate daytime raids by hungry insects and make sophisticated preparations to fend them off.
“When you walk past plants, they don’t look like they’re doing anything,” said Janet Braam, an investigator on the new study, which appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “It’s intriguing to see all of this activity down at the genetic level. It’s like watching a besieged fortress go on full alert.”
Braam, professor and chair of Rice’s Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, said scientists have long known that plants have an internal clock that allows them to measure time regardless of light conditions. For example, some plants that track the sun with their leaves during the day are known to “reset” their leaves at night and move them back toward the east in anticipation of sunrise…
(read more: Science Daily) (image: Tommy LaVergne/Rice University)
A Cuban plant that depends on bat pollination evolved a special leaf that acts like a satellite dish for bats’ sonar, new research says. It’s the first time such a feature has been discovered in plants, which mostly rely on flashy colors to attract pollinating insects. But hundreds of plant species use bats to pollinate, and researchers are still teasing out how the flying mammals home in on the plants.
In the lab, scientists noticed that Pallas’s long-tongued bats excelled at finding hollow hemisphere shapes hidden among artificial leaves. Study co-author Ralph Simon of Germany’s University of Ulm then saw a picture of a Cuban plant called Marcgravia evenia. He “noticed the dish-shaped leaf above the flower, and thought, Wow, that’s like a hemisphere … that must be a signal for bats.”
Study co-author Marc Holdereid of the U.K.’s University of Bristol added, “We didn’t even know this plant was bat-pollinated at the time…”
Notes from my work: This is a shot of an American Star-thistle or Basket Flower (Centaurea americana) from our Prairie Demonstration plot in the park. We’ve been rescuing alot of plant specimens that would’ve been plowed under on prairie sites around Houston that, unfortunately, no longer exist. 99% of grasslands in the U.S. are now gone or so severely degraded as to no longer be considered ecologically functional grasslands.
Darlingtonia (Darlingtonia californica), also called the California Pitcher plant or Cobra Lily, is a carnivorous plant in the family Sarraceniaceae. Darlingtonia is native to California and Oregon and grows in bogs and seeps. The name Cobra Lily is from the resemblance of the tubular leaf to a rearing Cobra, complete with “fangs”. The genus Darlingtonia is monotypic. (via: Wikipedia)
Wild Things of Madagascar: Baobab is the common name of Madagascar’s native Adansonia trees (Adansonia madagascariensis). The trees can endure harsh, dry conditions and were included in a new roadmap for conservation in Madagascar. (photo: Steven J. Phillips) (via: ABC)
The Training of the Shrew: Pitcher Plant Evolves Into Toilet
Pitcher plants are carnivorous and usually eat insects for nutrients and nitrogen. But in the highlands of Borneo there are not enough for it to survive on insects alone, so the pitcher plant evolved into a toilet plant, complete with standing lid that serves an unusual purpose.
The plant is big, almost the size of a football, The lid is covered in nectar, which attracts the tree shrew with a yummy snack; the bowl is shaped precisely to catch the shrew’s poop. There is even some thought that the nectar might have laxative properties, because it certainly collects a lot of the stuff, which provides needed nitrogen for the plant…