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Berry Go Round #20

August marks the peak of the summer holidays in the northern hemisphere, while September brings the beginning of autumn and a return to school.  But as the days grow shorter in the northern hemisphere, they lengthen south of the equator with a promise of spring.  And in the tropics…well, it’s the wet season, or the dry season, or something in between.  Sadly, I lack the kind of hackneyed phrasing that’s available for the temperate zone.  My having dropped the ball badly on the August issue means the opportunity for a double September issue of Berry Go Round.

Late September marks a return to blogging by Laurent Penet, the founder of Berry Go Round.  A fascinating post of nectar production in the Purple Toothwort (Lathraea clandestina) illustrates not only the general ideas behind nectar production, but also the specific mechanism the flower uses to prevent nectar-robbing.  And if nectar production isn’t your thing, you’ll still be happy with the pictures – how often do you get to see an achlorophyllous, parasitic plant in full bloom?  Another sign of life from a sorely missed blog showed up last week when Senna hayesiana burst into bloom over at Neotropical Savanna.

Keeping the focus on flowers, still over to Dave Ingram’s post on the White Cocklebur, an Old World species that’s invasive in British Columbia.  Dave’s great photography almost makes you forget the fact that it’s an unwanted invader in BC.  And do make sure you poke around the rest of Dave’s blog – his photography is stunning.

Copyright Sally at Foothills Fancy.  Shamelessly stolen and used without permission

Copyright Sally, of Foothills Fancy. Shamelessly used without permission

Remaining on the theme of exotic species, check out Foothills Fancies as she sets out “with murder in [her] heart”, out to try and control invasive Pepperweed in a nearby parkland.

In helping put together this blog carnival, Mary introduced me to a group blog that’s new to me, but with a name you gotta love: Get Your Botany On! With a list of 15 contributors it’s a veritable flood of plant blogging posts; included this month are four posts on Gentians: it begins with Gentiana rubicaulis, continues with a post on Gentiana linearis, a third on the fringed gentians of the northeastern US, and concludes with four gentians from Lake County, Indiana.  And lots and lots of great pictures.

Another new plant blog (new to me, at least) is Tim Entwhistle’s blog, Talking Plants.  Keeping on the theme of species articles, he has a nice article on Banksia aquilionia, the northernmost (i.e., the most equatorial) of the coastal banksias.  If you’ve had enough of angiosperms, you can read about the eight-metre fronds of Angiopteris evecta, which are the largest fern fronds in the world.  But if you really want to wrap your mind around something new, you should really read his post The Green Planet, in which he ponders the question”would Martian plants be green?”  (Recall that plants are green because they don’t use, and thus reflect, the green parts of the spectrum.)

Remaining in the southern hemisphere, check out Christopher Taylor’s post on at Catalogue of Organisms about Sellocharis paradoxa, a little-known leguminous shrub that’s native to southern Brazil.  First described in 1889, a century passed before the plant was re-discovered.  Over at Gravity’s Rainbow you can learn about another lost plant, Fitchia mangarevensis.  Sadly, this story lacks a happy ending – it’s presumed extinct.

If you’re more into field botany, you might enjoy some recent postings at Beetles in the Bush.  Ted MacRae has a great post on Krameria lanceolata, and a stunningly gorgeous picture of its flowers.  Other recent botanical posts include his article Sabatia angularis, and a very botanically-minded post on “North America’s most beautiful longhorned beetle“.  (Seriously, it’s a botany post, not matter how much he planned it to be entomological!)  Ted will be hosting the next edition of Berry Go Round at the end of this month.  Send him your botanical posts!

For anyone who’s done field sampling of plants, I must recommend The Vasculum.  The author really captures the essence of fieldwork.  Only two of his posts fall within our window, but do check out Vitaceae Seedlings; A Mystery No More, and Lactuca….hirsuta?

Pawpaw

Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA, from Wikimedia Commons

Remaining on the theme of plants in nature, Vicky at TGAW has a post on Pawpaw hunting at Dismal Swamp State Park.  Video included!  And remaining on the topic of plants you can actually eat, a visit to the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog is a must.  While there are too many excellent posts to count, Jeremy’s post on the pluot (plum x apricot) and Luigi’s visit to the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa are worthy additions to your reading list.  Jeremy’s posts on perennial kale in Ecuador and progress in perennial wheat are also fascinating.

To round things off, check out a truly different, check out the story of a botany midterm exam over at Botanizing.  As an added bonus, he included 10 multiple choice questions for you to try out (with an answer key, of course).

Now, to paraphrase the tagline of my father-in-law’s website, let me wish you ‘good reading!’

The next edition of Berry Go Round will by hosted by Ted MacRae at Beetles in the BushSend him your posts before the end of October.

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Top 100 Botany Blogs

Online College Blogs has posted a list of the Top 100 Botany Blogs.  It looks like a great source of stuff to read.  I also managed to get mentioned, which is pretty cool.

Eugenics, genetics and how they collided in the 20s and 30s

Roystonea, the royal palms, are the most striking palms in the Caribbean, and arguably, in the world (though, granted, a talipot palm in flower comes a close second). The name of the genus was coined by Orator F. Cook, an American botanist, in 1900, in honour of Roy Stone, an American general involved in the capture of Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American war.

I’ve wondered for years why Cook replaced what seemed to be a perfectly good generic name, Oreodoxa, with Roystonea…turns out that there were problems with Oreodoxa that were not easily addressed. Over the course of trying to figure that out, I started reading some of Cook’s writing. The article in which he first proposed the name1 gives fascinating insight into the state of botanical nomenclature a century ago (now there’s a subject I can imagine throngs of people being fascinated by), so I did a search on Web of Science to see what else of his I could easily find.

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Berry Go Round #12

The 12th edition of Berry Go Round, the botanical blog carnival, is now online at Foothills Fancies.  Lots of good reading to be had.

New plant blog

I discovered a new plant blog today, an apparently unnamed blog dedicated to “to edible, medicinal and otherwise useful tropical plant species and how they can be (and are being) integrated into diverse small and large scale agroforestry systems in both rural and urban environments”.  For want of a better name, I’ll call it Anthrome, based on the first portion of its URL.

Festival of the Trees

Festival of the Trees #30 is up at A Neotropical Savanna.  There’s some great stuff there, including some great photography.

The Festival of the Trees blog carnival has acught my eye a couple times, but I have never clicked through and taken a good look at it.  Much to my loss.  It looks like the kind of thing that should really appeal to me – a mixture of tree biology and simple tree appreciation.  On their “About” page they write

For the purposes of the Festival, we’re defining trees as any woody plants that regularly exceed three meters in height, though exceptions might be made to accommodate things like banana “trees” or bonsai. We are interested in trees in the concrete rather than in the abstract, so while stories about a particular forest would be welcome, newsy pieces about forest issues probably wouldn’t be. The emphasis should be on original content; we don’t want to link to pieces that are 90% or more recycled from other authors or artists.

The Festival of the Trees seeks:

  • original photos or artwork featuring trees
  • original essays, stories or poems about trees
  • audio and video of trees
  • news items about trees (especially the interesting and the off-beat)
  • philosophical and religious perspectives on trees and forests
  • scientific and conservation-minded perspectives on trees and forests
  • kids’ drawings of trees
  • dreams about trees
  • trees’ dreams about us
  • people who hug trees
  • people who make things out of trees
  • big trees
  • small trees
  • weird or unusual trees
  • sexy trees
  • tree houses
  • animals that live in, pollinate, or otherwise depend on trees
  • lichens, fungi or bacteria that parasitize or live in mutualistic relationships with trees

They also offer some pretty cool promotional badges…which I just couldn’t refuse.  Hopefully that will remind me to send them a submission next time.

Berry Go Round #11

The eleventh edition of the botanically-inclined blog carnival Berry Go Round is up at Catalogue of Organisms.  There’s good stuff there, as always, but what really caught my eye was Laurent’s post on palm evolution caught my eye and made me question some of my preconceptions, which is always what you want in a science article.