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Results tagged “february-27”

Feb 27, 2014: Cassiope mertensiana

Cassiope mertensiana

Taisha is the author of this entry. She writes:

Today's photo is of Cassiope mertensiana, or white mountain-heather. This species is featured in Alpine Plants of British Columbia, Alberta, and Northwest North America, authored by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon. Mike Hays is the photographer, sharing his image both in the book and with us on Botany Photo of the Day. Thank you, Mike! For local readers, do note that Andy MacKinnon will be giving a talk next week at the Native Plant Society of BC's Annual General Meeting on "Life above the Treeline: Plant Adaptations to the Alpine".

Cassiope mertensiana of the Ericaceae is, of course, an alpine species of western North America. It is found in open forests, meadows, rocky slopes, heathlands and tundra. White mountain-heather is a mat-forming dwarf species with opposite evergreen leaves. The white solitary flowers are bell-shaped and held upon a bending red stalk.

According to Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel E. Moerman, Cassiope mertensiania was used by the Nlaka'pamux (formerly known as the Thompson) as a remedy for tuberculosis where a decoction of the plant was taken over a period of time.

Taxonomically, some references suggest the name should be Andromeda mertensiana, but most references retain Cassiope mertensiana, including The Plant List and the Jepson eFlora.

Feb 27, 2013: Euphrasia cuneata

Euphrasia cuneata

The author and photographer for today's entry is Jackie Chambers, who (if you're a long-time BPotD reader) you may remember contributing a fair number of photographs several years ago. After spending some time abroad, she's back in the Vancouver area and has a new set of photographs and stories that she'll be sharing on occasion. Jackie writes:

Europeans arriving in New Zealand used the common name eyebright to refer to this plant, as they would have seen similarities between this species and its European relative Euphrasia officinalis (botanical sketch).

Euphrasia officinalis has a long history of use by humans for the treatment of conjunctivitis and other eye complaints, dating back to at least the time of the herbalist Nicholas Culpeper. However, a 2010 assessment by the European Medicines Agency reviewed the documented medical efficacy of Euphrasia officinalis (PDF), and found there to be insufficient data to recommend therapeutic use.

In New Zealand, eyebright or tutumako, was not used for the eyes but traditionally played a role in spiritual cleansing (via the Māori Plant Use Database).

The New Zealand Plant Conservation Network has more photographs of Euphrasia cuneata.

If you are a local reader and interested in traditional knowledge and the links between people and plants, distinguished ethnobotanist Dr. Nancy Turner will be giving the Wharton Memorial Lecture at UBC on March 7th: "Reflections on the Journey from Biodiversity and Culture to Biocultural Diversity".

Feb 27, 2012: Rhododendron 'Cornubia'

Today's entry was written by Douglas Justice, UBC Botanical Garden's Curator of Collections. Douglas writes:

Rhododendron 'Cornubia' is one of the few hybrid rhododendrons cultivated in the UBC Botanical Garden collection. The parentage of this beautiful plant includes three Himalayan species, all of them superb in their own right and all of them cultivated in our collection. The cross is Rhododendron 'Shilsonii' (Rhododendron barbatum × Rhododendron thomsonii) × Rhododendron arboreum 'Blood Red'. 'Cornubia' is not a common plant locally and is notoriously shy to flower, especially when winters are cold. Our specimen, which was a bit of a mystery plant for many years, is located in the David C. Lam Asian Garden where it is growing exceptionally well, and now blooming with some regularity.

The focus in the Asian Garden has always been on species rhododendrons, but for the past twenty or so years, our attention has increasingly shifted to the cultivation of plants of known provenance (i.e., from documented wild-collected seed). Hardly the place for a hybrid rhododendron, but 'Cornubia' had only flowered once or twice since it had been planted in the early 1990s, and until about ten years ago, when it was finally identified, it had an old label that identified it as Rhododendron fulgens, which it clearly was not. One of the problems with a large rhododendron collection (or any collection of plants for that matter) is that identifications need to be verified, labels applied, and records kept up to date. The process has to be repeated periodically, because, as everyone knows, plant names change, specimens are moved and labels are inevitably lost (or stolen). From a curatorial perspective, we know better than to be doctrinaire about the "purity" of our collections. It's a beautiful plant. It's correctly labeled, and growing well. We'll keep it where it is.


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