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

Cornus sericea

Cornus sericea

Lindsay again writes today's entry:

Thank you to Wayne Weber@Flickr for capturing and submitting this lovely beacon of autumn (original image | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool)

Red-osier dogwood is a common shrub found wild throughout North America, in addition to being a popular ornamental (particularly for winter interest). In many older texts, you will find Cornus sericea referred to as Cornus stolonifera.

Recent studies have raised the profile of this riparian species with respect to its use in land reclamation. Researchers from the Department of Renewable resources at the University of Alberta in conjunction with the Botany Department at the University of Manitoba, conducted an investigation on sodium chloride and sodium sulfate uptake in tailing waters produced as a result of surface mining (see: Renault et al. 2001. Effects of NaCl and Na2SO4 on red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera Michx) seedlings. Plant and Soil. 233(2):261-268 doi:10.1023/A:1010512021353 ). In this study, red-osier dogwood seedlings were demonstrated to be relatively resistant to the high salinity tailings waters produced by the oil sands industry.

Salinity can reduce plant growth by both osmotic and ionic effects. An accumulation of ions in plant tissues can affect membrane selective permeability, altering the uptake of ions and possibly resulting in nutrient deficiency or toxicity. Photosynthetic activity is also limited in a saline environment because of a decrease in stomatal conductance, restricting gas exchange between the plant and the atmosphere. In many plants, salt resistance depends on the ability of the root system to restrict Na+ and Cl-transport to the shoots. Within a certain range of concentration, the roots of Cornus sericea are able to selectively restrict transport of sodium chloride and sodium sulfate to the leaves making them an ideal pioneering species for use in land reclamation.

Botany / photography resource link (added by Daniel): Thank you to Adolf Ceska for sending this link along: botany.cz. It's like Botany Photo of the Day, but with sometimes 4 or 5 entries in a day (it helps to have 30 contributors). And it's in Czech. If you're like me, you'll still enjoy visiting for the photographs.

15 Comments

Meg Bernstein commented:

Incredible color!

Quin commented:

such great news Daniel - we may work our way out of a few of our species-created messes (oh please plant goddesses!). it's always been a good colonizer/stabilizer for little land slippages, etc. - good plant, good plant......

Paul Clapham commented:

Sure, the botany.cz home page is in Czech, but it does have a little British flag near the top. Click that and you get to an English version of the site.

cambree commented:

Love the color!

Beautiful... I can imagine a dress made with fabrics of this shade.

Er.We commented:

you might enjoy the english pages of Botany.cz better, Daniel: http://botany.cz/en/. I now these pages for years now, great resources.

Very interesting the salinity resistivity. Thx.

Er.We commented:

oops, Paul already had referred to the english version ...

bev commented:

This plant is also recommended to prevent erosion along the eastern U.S. estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay where I live. Beautiful fall color although it lives up to its old name 'stolonifera'!

Scott Ranger commented:

Here is a very recent (Weakley, 2009) note on the taxonomic problem of this plant's name. I concur with him and will use C. stonlonifera.

"Attempts to link the name C. sericea Linnaeus to the red-osier dogwood have focused on the Linnaean description of "foliis subtus sericeis" and "ramis rubicundis." The reference to the red branches has been emphasized to rule out any other species, yet C. amomum and C. obliqua also have reddish-maroon branches. The description of "fructo nigrocaeruleo" cannot be dismissed as a reference to individuals of the red-osier dogwood which have pale blue fruit, often considered to be due to hybridization with C. amomum or C. obliqua. It seems clear that the description fits C. obliqua better than it does the red-osier dogwood. Although there is a specimen in the Linnaean herbarium which has been identified as the red-osier dogwood, it is neither dated nor is the label of C. sericea in Linnaeus' hand. Also, considering the similarity of the red-osier dogwood and C. alba Linnaeus, it is doubtful Linnaeus would have described the red osier dogwood without reference to C. alba. Therefore, we agree with Rickett's rejection of C. sericea as a nomen dubium. [= G, W; = C. sericea Linnaeus – C, nomen dubium; = Cornus stolonifera Michaux – G, W; > Cornus stolonifera var. stolonifera – F; > Cornus stolonifera var. baileyi (Coulter & Evans) Drescher – F; > C. sericea ssp. sericea – K, nomen dubium; = Swida sericea (Linnaeus) Holub, nomen dubium; = Swida stolonifera (Michaux) Rydberg]"

Douglas Justice commented:

Sold! C. stolonifera it is. Botanical gardens are ideal places to follow up on such questions, especially with respect to physical comparisons of species. We endeavour to collect and display plants of known wild provenance (i.e., from seed of wild plants of documented origin), as well as deposit herbarium vouchers of plants from our collections in our local herbarium (UBC Herbarium). I would never downgrade the value of good plant collections in a botanical garden, but even the best gardens have limitations. Herbarium botanists have access to large collections of pressed specimens from both horticultural/botanical collections and wild collections. The ability to compare features from such large collections (presumably representing all of the inherent variation in a taxon) gives herbarium botanists the edge in determining the most salient morphological differences.

Our Cornus (subgenus Swida) collections are expanding to include European and eastern North American taxa. For example, samples of C. alba and C. sanguinea will be planted in our new European woodland this year and next. The area, at the western end of the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden, is adjacent to the soon to be opened Roseline Sturdy Amphitheatre (still under construction) and will provide needed screening for this beautiful open-air facility. In the Carolinian Forest Garden, we have examples of at least three species (C. alternifolia, C. drummondii and C. ammomum). The autumn leaf display of C. ammomum was superb this year. Of course, we already have a number of Asian taxa, such as C. macrophylla, C. controversa, C. hemsleyi and C. walteri in the David C. Lam Asian Garden, as well as in our BC Native Garden, locally collected examples of C. stolonifera.

elizabeth a airhart commented:

the wonder is that we can see these trees
and not wonder more-emerson

Robin commented:

When I designed gardens near the Chesapeake, I too found C. sericea (as I thought then, thanks for the correction) useful as a stabilizer in damp areas. It was nibbled by deer; C. alba was devoured. In the park near me here in Cleveland, C. stolonifera is the dominant wet-footed understory plant. Deer here wander through huge thickets of it and never touch the stuff. I am truly thankful.

Linda T. commented:

Thank goodness for the argument to keep the C. stolonifera nomenclature. When I read the name "red-osier dogwood", I had to go back and look at the Latin name again, because I knew that wasn't the same one I remembered. I scratched my head and read further, and saw the line: "In many older texts..." & saw the name that was familiar to me.

I felt *ancient* (well, it's been 25 years since I took that taxonomy class!). Just happy to know I can still think of it as C. stolonifera, and simultaneously think of myself as a "rebel"! :)

Daniel Mosquin commented:

Ha! I learned it as Cornus stolonifera myself, and that was 15 years ago.

I changed the name (Lindsay originally had it as Cornus stolonifera) due to the synonymy on the USDA GRIN web site. The question now becomes how to request the USDA taxonomists to review the recent paper.

Christian from PDX commented:

Ahh, but morphological traits are plastic indeed. There has been no mention of any genetic evidence to refute or bolster the name changes.

De Kemist commented:

I've never appreciated the value of plant life until now,It is truly a wonder to have this plant.

Comments are closed.

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