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Botany Photo of the Day
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Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

Number five in a series featuring photographs and writings from other staff and researchers at UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. Like yesterday's photograph, this image is by David Tarrant, UBC BGCPR's Public Relations and Programs Coordinator, from a recent trip to New Zealand. – Daniel

In his notes to me for this entry, David wrote, “These cypress knees were taken in Ayrlies, the amazing garden of Beverley McConnell. The garden is located in Whitford, just south of Auckland.”

Unlike yesterday's and tomorrow's plants, bald cypress is not a native to New Zealand. Taxodium distichum is instead native to the southeastern United States, Mexico and Guatemala, but is also widely cultivated.

Why do the roots form knees? Despite speculation that the knees help provide oxygen to the roots in water-saturated soils, no physiological function has yet been determined (source: the “Silvics of North America” account for Taxodium distichum). Knees of mangrove trees, however, do promote the diffusion of oxygen into the roots. What's the difference? Mangrove roots forming knees have lenticels, recently discussed in the BPotD entry on Prunus serrula. Taxodium distichum? No lenticels.

For more on this beautiful tree (including photographs), see Taxodium distichum via the Gymnosperm Database on conifers.org.

Botany resource link: About Plant Physiological Ecology (an introduction to the topic) – “The problem of how plants can grow in places representing severely unfavorable climate conditions and growth substrates is central to physiological ecology.”

6 Comments

Michael Brown commented:

Reminds me so much of the Congaree Swamp National Park right down the road from me, and a place that I visit often.

Very nice lighting and composition showing these cypress knees out in nature!

Thanks for showing this one to us all!

Beverley commented:

Taxodium distichum - Z6 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Taxodium distichum - Z5-10 - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk

Sean Graham commented:

Mrs McConnell hosted a fantastic meal as part of an International Dendrological Society tour around the Auckland area, part of the 2002 IDS conference on Araucariaceae, so I got to see the 'knees' in person! Her garden is truly amazing...

Liz Bouchard commented:

...And all the whole village gathered at the edge of the sea..

Wonderful photo for the fanciful minded, like me, thanks for this one! I love it!
Liz

Ferdzy commented:

Wow, that's amazing. I thought it was a Japanese rock garden when I was viewing the thumbnail. And yes, it does look like they are all looking out to sea.

Suzanne Klein commented:

On a visit to the Corkscrew Alligator Sanctuary in Florida, I learned that the knees help to stabilize the trees during high winds. The ground is boggy and with the knees sticking up, everything stays in place better. At least that was my understanding.

Comments are closed.

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