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Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

Alnus incana subsp. tenuifolia

Alnus incana subsp. tenuifolia
Alnus incana subsp. tenuifolia

Stumps with the jarring linear patterns of chainsaw cuts are one of the sad results of last week's storm at UBC Botanical Garden. Now that most of the snow is melted, it is easier to assess some of the damage to the plant collections (another round of losses will take a couple months to determine – damage from temperature). My unprofessional observations, confirmed in a casual conservation with one of the horticulturists, suggest the following numbers:

  • 1) the low dozens of woody plants need to be removed outright
  • 2) woody plants with minor to severe damage number in the hundreds
  • 3) if the garden had a formal design, where plants had to be replaced by others of the same species and a similar size or shape to retain structure, the assessed damage would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars

Since the garden components with the most damage tend to be more informal or naturalistic in design, the lost plants yield an opportunity to grow something different in those areas. Still, the cost to the garden in the lost investment of time into the plants (growing, pruning, interpretation, labelling and so on), the replacement cost of new plants and the time to clean up the damage (time taken away from other projects) will easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

I generally try to avoid pop culture references on BPotD, but I have to admit to thinking of Treebeard's rumblings when I walk around the garden: “Many of these trees were my friends” (from the Lord of the Rings movies).

Thinleaf alder (the subspecies tenuifolia) is native only to northwestern North America, while the broader range of the entire species spans much of North America and Europe. The Flora of North America reports on this taxon: Alnus incana subsp. tenuifolia. The Burke Museum unfailingly contains an excellent set of images: Alnus incana subsp. tenuifolia.

Botany resource link: Weeds of Mexico (Malezas de México), a project by Dr. Heike Vibrans Lindemann of the Colegio de Postgraduados en Ciencias Agrícolas. The site contains factsheets and photographs on over three hundred species in a clean, easily-navigable format. If you've time to spare and can translate between Spanish and English, you can help the project by offering to translate the Spanish factsheets into English.

7 Comments

And, if you're curious about the ads across the top, you might like to read this thread first to see if your questions are answered there.

Out of trajedy -- beauty [in a way !]. What is the blue/black dicolouration in the top picture? Is it a fungus?
I hope the banner ads bring needed revenue.
Knox H.

"What is the blue/black dicolouration in the top picture?"

Looks like a bit of ingrown bark to me, but it could be a patch of fungal decay

Ingrown bark. That particular plant was split into two main trunks, and this is near where they had started to split.

If your focus is on saving plants rather than the overall look of the garden, don't be too hasty to remove things that appear dead (apart from cleaning up what broke off or fell over). They might come back in the spring.

In the California Bay Area, in Feb 1989, we had a low of 19F, which killed a lot of things. But it was surprising how many plants survived. I was going to throw away the sorry remains of my potted jade tree, a pile of mush, and my husband suggested just leaving it alone. Sure enough, it did come back from the roots. A bigger problem was that although the citrus trees survived at the root level, they were killed below the graft, so when they regenerated, it was from the non-fruiting rootstock.

The snow you had might have killed the tops of a lot of plants, but would have insulated the ground (and their roots) from some of the worst of the cold. I grew up in the US midwest, and the worst cold damage was always caused by a cold snap with no snow cover.

You might be surprised at what survives, though it is always sad to see what does not.

So sorry about the damage from the storm, Daniel, I hope your ads will help replenish the plants that were lost. Good luck with that. Nature sometimes is not so kind, but the beauty lives on dispite the losses. I hope more of the plants survived than you think, that's my prayer.

As I began to view this brilliantly coloured raw wood, for an instance I thought I could actually smell it! How's that for mind over matter?

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

 
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