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Results tagged “june-17”

Jun 17, 2014: Echinocactus grusonii

Echinocactus grusonii

An entry written by Taisha, who scribes:

Today, we have an image of a pleasant arrangement of cacti. In particular, I'll be writing about the Echinocactus grusonii, or golden barrel cacti, in the foreground. This photo was taken by Mike Bush (aka aviac@FlickrM), and shared via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Much appreciated, Mike!

According to The Cactus Family by Edward F. Anderson, Echinocactus grusonii is slow-growing, eventually reaching a height of up to 130cm and a diameter of 80 cm in the oldest individuals (>100 years old). Growth can be relatively fast in the first few decades of life, though, if conditions are ideal. The ribbed column bears yellow spines (modified leaves) that darken with age. Yellow flowers sit atop the cactus in the summer months, with somewhat oblong and greenish fruits appearing later in the year.

Echinocactus grusonii is native to Mexico, with two known populations. The smaller of the two populations (~1000 individuals) is located in a small area of Querétaro near Mesa de Léon on medium to steep slopes of volcanic rock. A recently-discovered population was found in Zacatecas, where up to 10000 mature individuals grow at elevations between 1400 and 1900 meters.

Golden barrel cactus (or mother-in-law's cushion) is currently listed as globally endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Major threats include illegal collecting for horticultural trade and population destruction for dam construction. This cactus is a desirable addition to any garden and is included in many public and private collections. Although this species is widely propagated and readily available in horticulture worldwide, it does not stop ongoing poaching from wild populations (similar to the Dicksonia from a few days ago, mature specimens are extremely valuable). As a conservation action, the IUCN insists that laws governing imports to other countries must be enforced. They also advise a need for further research in this species' natural history and ecology, as well as in its collection and harvest.

Botanical / art resource link (by Daniel): Sowing a Garden, One Knit Flower At a Time, an article on Smithsonian.com about what happens when a knitter decides to combine knitting with an appreciation for plants.

Jun 17, 2013: Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabathricum

Apologies for the lack of entries -- it's all on me and my (lack of) time, as I now have a good-sized backlog of entries from Taisha. She's written today's entry:

Today's images (original 1 | original 2) of Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabrathricum, commonly known as blue tongue or Malabar melastome or native lasiandra, were taken on April 17, 2011 by long-time BPotD contributor Andreas Lambrianides. Thank you for all of your wonderful photos and for today's pictures!

Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabrathricum of the Melastomataceae is native to tropical Asia, Taiwan, parts of Australia, Mauritius and Seychelles. In Australia, typical habitats include roadsides, disturbed rain forest areas and other wet forests. The Flora of China's account seems to take a broader view of the species (Melastoma malabathricum), so the habitat includes more environments and the species distribution is wider.

The 3m tall stem of this shrub and its branches are covered in appressed scales. As shown in the photographs, the elliptical or ovate leaves are hairy and have a midrib with 2 to 3 longitudinal veins on either side. The terminal clusters of 3-7 flowers are purple-reddish in color with two leaf-like bracts at the base. The fruit is a densely hair-covered fleshy capsule. It dehisces to reveal a dark pulp with small orange seeds that are dispersed by birds.

According to Malay, Indian and Indonesian folk medicine, different parts of Melastoma malabrathicum are thought to have medicinal value for the treatment of a variety of ailments. There are also several prospective pharmacological uses, but in-depth scientific studies first must be completed to verify their potential (see: Joffry, SM., et al. 2011. Melastoma malabrathicum (L.) Smith ethnomedicinal uses, chemical constituents, and pharmacological properties: A review. Evid. Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012: 258434. doi:10.1155/2012/258434).

Jun 17, 2009: Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow'

Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow'

With today's posting, we welcome summer student, Stephen Coughlin, whose duties include Botany Photo of the Day. This entry was written by Stephen and the photo was taken by Eric La Fountaine.

Euphorbiaceae (the spurge family), which consists of around 300 genera and 7500 species, is native to both the temperate and tropical climate zones. Euphorbia griffithii is a metre-high herbaceous perennial that hails from the eastern Himalayas to the mountains of Myanmar (Burma) and western China. It ignites into bloom in early summer. The cultivar 'Fireglow', which is more deeply coloured than the species, welcomes visitors at the entrance to UBC Botanical Garden with a series of chromatic juxtapositions simultaneously subtle and strong: on its floral bracts, rich reds mix with searing yellows and oranges as if on the palette of an Old Master, while the dark burgundy of the stem and the green of the waxy leaves lend further contrast and contribute to the intensity of the blazing blooms above. This intensity culminates in the fall, when the floral apparatus turns brick red.

The vividness of the bloom, which to some suggests a measure of resilience and assertion, is indeed matched by the vigour with which 'Fireglow' confronts its surroundings. The species is robust enough to withstand both hostile pollutants and the vast spectrum of weather conditions associated with Zones 4 through 9; E. griffithii tends toward the invasive, however, at least in garden situations. Paraphrasing renowned gardener and garden writer Christopher Lloyd, the species is aggressive, and its sustained struggles when matched with a similarly dominant species leave the gardener only to referee. In addition to these somewhat bellicose tendencies, 'Fireglow' has another menacing trick up its sleeve. While the plant's capacity to repel the onslaughts of deer and other animals is undoubtedly a benefit in the garden, gardeners beware, for the milky sap that fills the stems of this beautiful spurge is toxic.

For those wishing to explore the plants of the Himalayas, Laboritoire d'Ecologie Alpine has a searchable database, Flora Himalayan Database, which provides links to other Himalayan flora resources (Original French).


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