The summer dry season has arrived in British Columbia, and with it, forest fires. The Venables Fire of late summer 2003 burned 7636 ha (nearly 19000 acres). These trembling (quaking) aspen were a few of the victims. Three years later, the blistered, burnt sienna bark still clings to the dead trees in places.
Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.
Recently in Flowering Plants Category
Jul 5, 2006: Populus tremuloides
Jul 3, 2006: Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense
One of the hallmark plants of UBC Botanical Garden, giant Himalayan lily can grow up to 4m tall (see the interpretative sign). I haven't seen a plant reach that height yet in six years, but the plants in the garden frequently exceed 2.5m. However, a dried stalk just shy of 4m leans against the wall in a stairwell of the garden's research / admin building. I imagine a place will be found to exhibit it one day.
For more photographs of Cardiocrinum, see this thread on the garden's discussion forums.
And yes, the flowers are sweetly-scented (one doesn't even have to bend over to inhale!). My opinion is that they have a hint of a rootbeer fragrance.
Ecology / photography resource link: From the Griffith University Library in Australia, the Len Webb Ecological Images Collection. Collections such as these are quite valuable – ecological phenomena (I think) are underrepresented in photography, possibly because of the requirement to understand what is occurring ecologically before being able to represent it with an image.
Jul 2, 2006: Tulipa linifolia
Today's image is courtesy of James, aka whatsthatpicture@Flickr (original image | via Flickr BPotD Group Pool). James resides in London, UK, so the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (where this photo was taken) is at his doorstep – I'm envious! Thanks for the image submission, James.
Another species tulip, Tulipa linifolia is native to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. This photograph is a bit timely. On Thursday last week, David Tarrant and I were talking about how interesting it would be to travel to the Caucasus and Pamir Mountains to see the flora. Instability in the region, however, is a powerful disincentive.
As James notes on Flickr, this photograph was taken in Kew's new Davies Alpine House – a somewhat safer place to see this tulip.
Photography resource link: for inspiration, the photography of Robert Turner.
Jul 1, 2006: Clematis 'Niobe'
Many thanks to Durgan, a prolific photographer and member of the UBC Botanical Garden Forums for today's image. The original image can be seen along with a few others of this plant on Durgan's site here. Durgan also writes about the plant on the forums. Please note that the typical use and attribution rules apply to this image! Many thanks, Durgan!
Only short entries this long weekend, as I'm taking a little break.
Clematis 'Niobe' was originally developed over thirty-five years ago by the Polish clematis hybridizer Vladyslaw Noll. For gardening information on this clematis cultivar, again turn to Missouri Botanical Garden's Kemper Center for Home Gardening web site for its entry on Clematis 'Niobe'. If you've a particular interest in Clematis, visit the International Clematis Society web site – along with a host of information, it also features a clematis of the month.
Entomology / botany resource link: HOSTS - A Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants “brings together an enormous body of information on what the world's butterfly and moth (Lepidoptera) caterpillars eat.” Searches can be done by either insect name or hostplant name.
Jun 30, 2006: Celtica gigantea
Taking a page out of a famous musician's book, Celtica gigantea is “the Grass Formerly Known as Stipa gigantea”. The scientific name for golden oats changed with the publication of this paper: Vázquez, FM and M Barkworth. 2004. Resurrection and emendation of Macrochloa (Gramineae: Stipeae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 144:483–495. The name change has yet to cascade through many of the online garden publications and databases, so an Internet search is more successful if you use the synonym, Stipa gigantea. The genus Celtica is monotypic, so this taxon is the only species within the newly-formed genus.
For an illustration of the plant (instead of only the seeds as in this photograph), see Celtica gigantea in the Icones plantarum rariorum from Missouri Botanical Garden's Rare Books Collection. Native to southwestern Europe and northwest Africa, Celtica gigantea is yet another RHS Award of Garden Merit plant. The RHS also has gardening information for golden oats.
Photography resource link: The photography of Edward Weston, an early 20th century master photographer (I've just picked up a book with a collection of his photographs). In particular, see his Natural Studies, Point Lobos & Death Valley and Clouds, Trees & Water series.
Jun 29, 2006: Alstroemeria psittacina
Thanks again to Eric in San Francisco (Eric in SF@Flickr) for today's image (via the BPotD Flickr Group Pool | original image with comments). This photograph was taken in the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum. Much appreciated, Eric!
The family Alstroemeriaceae is native to Central and South America (map). This species, commonly known as hardy alstroemeria or parrot flower is native to northern Brazil. However, it has naturalized in Europe, the United States and Australia (PDF). Of particular concern is naturalization in Western Australia, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. The Floridata entry on Alstroemeria psittacina warns about its invasive potential, though it also provides commentary on the plant's good qualities: drought-resistant, hummingbird-attracting, container-friendly and a long-lasting cut flower.
Photography resource link: On the topic of image critique, here is a place where it's done right: The Radiant Vista. “The Radiant Vista is a creative community of inspiration, passion, and grace. Together we pursue our dreams and explore our endless potential.” The highlight of the site is a daily critique video; you have to watch one to understand what a great job they do. If you submit your photograph to them and it gets critiqued, let me know (if I don't catch it myself) and I'll link to it in a future entry. I also really enjoyed the article “The Myth of Talent”.
Jun 28, 2006: Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Some references suggest that this cultivar is a hybrid between two genera, Crocosmia and Curtonus. However, a UBC forum member (David in LA) points out that the two genera were lumped together in a 1971 paper by Peter Goldblatt: “Cytological & morphological studies in southern African Iridaceae” in the South African Journal of Botany. If one agrees with Goldblatt, then this hybrid becomes merely a cross between two species within the same genus, a fairly common occurrence (even in nature for some taxa). A cross between two genera occurs rarely, and often adds weight to proposals that the two genera should be either re-examined or taxonomically lumped together under one generic name.
Photography resource link: A satirical look at image critique from Mike Johnston's The Online Photographer weblog: Great Photographers on the Internet and the follow-up Wicked. Discovered via a thread on Nature Photographers Online.
Jun 27, 2006: Schizophragma hydrangeoides
One of the highlights of the Asian Garden at UBC is the climbing woody vines. Although I'm still struggling to get a worthwhile photograph of one from a distance (not an easy feat in the woodlands of the Asian Garden), I can at least share this close-up of a soon-to-bloom Japanese hydrangea vine, a woody climber native to both Japan and Korea.
To learn a little more about Schizophragma hydrangeoides, see the garden's interpretative sign. For a gardening perspective (and an image of the plant “climbing” a wall), visit the Kemper Center for Home Gardening via Missouri Botanical Garden.
Gardening questions about this and other climbers & vines can be posted to the UBC Vines & Climbers discussion forum.
Photography resource link: Expose to the Right, an article from Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape. I've been attempting this practice more often than not lately, but I'm finding it a fairly risky technique as it is very easy to overexpose a particular channel – it's easier on very expensive cameras that display the histogram for every channel.
Jun 26, 2006: Thermopsis macrophylla var. agnina
Thermopsis macrophylla is commonly known as false lupine, golden-pea or (rarely) Santa Ynez goldenbanner. It is native to western California, occurring in grasslands, chapparal and open forests. The online Jepson Manual also mentions it being present in Oregon, but the USDA PLANTS database disagrees.
More disagreement surrounds whether the variety agnina should be recognized as its own distinct taxon. Thermopsis macrophylla var. agnina, Santa Ynez false-lupine, is a robust-growing version of what is typically seen in the rest of the species. It only occurs in the Santa Ynez mountains of Santa Barbara County in California. The Jepson Manual mentions this variety without discounting it (but does not “officially” add it as a taxon with its own entry). The USDA PLANTS database does not recognize it as being separate, and instead lumps it in with the rest of the species. Despite attempts to slot taxa into tidy boxes, biological reality resists. This is in part due to the ongoing process of evolution – I tend to think about these muddy instances of “is it different enough to be its own variety?” as “evolution in action”.
In local news, this month's Café Scientifique at the Railway Club in Vancouver features Dr. Tara Ivanochko discussing “The Big picture of Climate Change: Natural Systems and Human Agency”. The details for this free event on Tuesday night are available on Café Scientifique Vancouver's web site (What is Café Scientifique?).
Biology / art resource link: From the American Museum of Natural History, Dioramas goes far beyond images of the museum's dioramas – it offers virtual tours and behind-the-scenes glimpses into these educational treasures.
Jun 25, 2006: Raphanus sativus hybrid
Many thanks to Cliff aka The Marmot@Flickr for today's photograph (original image | via Flickr BPotD Group Pool). As a reminder, don't forget to see Cliff's photographs of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Thanks again!
Radishes are thought to have been in cultivation for nearly five thousand years. Like much of the rest of the plant, the flowers of radish are edible. Although not as hot as the root, my experience is that the flowers do have a similar “bite”. As the Plants for a Future database mentions, the only part which isn't generally edible is the fruit capsule as it matures and becomes tough.
For more information on this root vegetable, see Wikipedia's entry on Raphanus sativus.
Photography resource link: Luminous Lint, whose purpose is “...to create the world‘s leading collaborative knowledge-base for the history of photography showing significant vintage and contemporary photography.”
Jun 24, 2006: Maxillaria speciosa
Roughly five hundred and seventy species can be found in the genus Maxillaria (list). These rainforest-inhabiting orchids are plants of the neotropics, being found only in Central and South America.
Maxillaria speciosa is an epiphyte native to Ecuador and Colombia. Its flowers are fragrant (like many others in the genus), but I don't know what sort of fragrance it has – perhaps Andreas will comment and share that information.
Botany resource link: Fungi, from the Australian National Botanic Gardens, provides a wealth of information about mushrooms, mycelia and more!
Jun 23, 2006: Cornus kousa
This is the fourth dogwood to be featured on BPotD. By revisiting the other three, you can get some idea of the diversity of floral structure within the genus: Cornus chinensis, Cornus macrophylla and Cornus 'Eddie's White Wonder'. The white petal-like structures seen here are actually modified leaves called bracts. A plant in a closely related family, the Nyssaceae, also has subtending bracts: Davidia involucrata 'Sonoma'.
The fruits of kousa dogwood are edible (see the Plants for a Future entry on Cornus kousa), but I wouldn't eat them in quantity. Apparently, members of both the Cornaceae and Nyssaceae share the characteristic of being aluminum accumulators (source: description of “Cornaceae + Nyssaceae” on the Cornales page of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group site).
Jun 22, 2006: Dierama pulcherrimum
The South African “angel's fishing rod” or “fairy wand” is a plant I photograph every year. I've yet to take a photograph I'm entirely happy with, because a two-dimensional representation of this plant in an image pales in comparison to witnessing it in person. To my mind, Dierama pulcherrimum is about movement – it dances in the slightest breeze. The effect of a hundred plants doing so at one time in UBC's alpine garden is enchanting. I can only imagine that a grassland with thousands of plants is magical (see “Dierama pulcherrimum massed on Gaikas Kop east face.jpg” on this page).
Botany resource link: If I was living in Florida, I know where I'd be visiting on July 8/9 this year: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (and its annual mango festival). The Fairchild BG web site is content rich, with quite a few articles to read if you are interested in tropical plants. To add to my small weblog interview from a few days ago, I see Fairchild is taking the first few steps into weblogging.
Jun 21, 2006: Xerophyllum tenax
The first of today's two photographs was taken yesterday morning of a plant in UBC's Alpine Garden. I wish I could claim credit for the second photograph, since that would mean I observed these plants en masse, but I can't. It's a public domain work from the US National Park Service, found via the Wikipedia entry for Xerophyllum tenax.
A native to dry, open coniferous forests at medium- to high-elevation mountains in some parts of western North America (distributon map | FNA treatment), Xerophyllum tenax is one of two species in the genus. An eastern North American counterpart, Xerophyllum asphodeloides, grows in similar habitats: pine barrens and dry mountain forests.
The leaves of bear-grass were (and are) used by indigenous peoples as material for weaving baskets and apparel (see the Plants for a Future entry on Xerophyllum tenax).
Photography resource link: Mastering the Histogram, an article by Chris Gamel for PhotoMigrations. “Mastering” is a fairly strong word to use – I'd prefer understanding, myself. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important things to comprehend about digital images. I look at the image's histogram immediately after taking each photograph to reduce disappointment when I later examine the images on my computer.
Jun 20, 2006: Geranium 'Gerwat'
The cultivar name of this hardy geranium is 'Gerwat', but it is sold under the trade designation Geranium Rozanne. Trade designations add yet another layer of complexity (and some might say confusion) to answering the question, “What is the name of that plant?” The Royal Horticultural Society has a tidy summary on trade designations and trade marks; it is worthwhile reading it to understand why a plant can have two or three different names on the same label (e.g., common name of Rozanne hardy geranium, cultivar name of Geranium 'Gerwat' and trade name of Geranium Rozanne).
For gardening information on this meritorious hardy geranium, visit the Kemper Center for Home Gardening's page on Geranium 'Gerwat' Rozanne or see this page from Blooms of Bressingham in New Zealand. Interested in geraniums? Visit the web site of The Geraniaceae Group
Small tidbit from the resource link from two days ago regarding Lomo-style images: I forgot to mention I discovered it via Darren Barefoot's weblog.
Botany resource link: Desmids in the Netherlands is a site dedicated to the unicellular green alga in the Desmidiaceae and Mesotaeniaceae. Includes a Desmid of the Month – I'm a fan of Euastrum humerosum, myself. Little green beauties.