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Results tagged “march-07”

Mar 7, 2014: Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty'

Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty'

Taisha writes:

Today, we have an image of Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty', courtesy of Christopher Young (aka c.young@Flickr). Christopher shared this image via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thanks Christopher!

Evidence points to Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty' being a primary hybrid, i.e., it is the first-generation offspring from the crossing of two different species. Hobbyist and expert grower, Dr. Meredith Morgan, bred this hybrid in the 1940s. There had been some longstanding confusion about its parentage. It was long speculated to be the result of first crossing Crassula falcata with Crassula ausiensis, followed by crossing those progeny with Crassula mesembryanthemopsis. However, there seems to be general agreement now that Crassula 'Morgan's Beauty' is actually the result of breeding Crassula falcata with Crassula mesembryanthemopsis. This hybrid is celebrated for having thick silvery leaves that crowd around fragrant and pink flowers in the spring.

According to the chapter on the Crassulaceae (Thiede & Eggli) in the book, The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants edited by Dr. K. Kubitzki, the Crassulaceae is a family of 34 genera and about 1410 species (similar numbers are suggested by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. Crassulaceae has a very broad distribution, and is typically associated with arid or rocky habitats. Centres of diversity for the family are Mexico and South Africa. Generally, species grow as herbaceous perennials or shrubs. These almost always have succulent leaves or stems, and typically have hermaphroditic flowers and follicles for fruit. It is common for members of the Crassulaceae to photosynthesize nocturnally via Crassulacean acid metabolism, or the CAM pathway. The CAM pathway was first detected in the Crassulaceae, but many succulent (and a few non-succulent) taxa use this particular form of photosynthesis.

Mar 7, 2013: Abies equi-trojani

Today's entry was written by Raakel Toppila, who recently completed the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture. She's helping our Garden assess some collections management tools. Raakel writes:

Thank you to James Gaither (aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr) for today's photographs of Abies equi-trojani (photo 1 | photo 2 | set).

The curious name of this species comes from its occurrence on Mount Ida of Trojan War fame in the northwest of Turkey. Equ, being the Latin word for horse, is likely reference to the legendary horse that brought victory to the Greeks. The distribution of the Trojan fir is limited to a total area of about 3600 ha, with a number of isolated populations ranging in size from 120 ha to 2400 ha in the northwest of Turkey. The tree is valued for its rapid growth rate and high quality timber which has threatened existing populations thanks to illegal logging. That, along with pollution and tourism, has resulted in the decline and endangerment of the species.

Priority was placed on its protection in a national plan for the In Situ Conservation of Plant Genetic Diversity in Turkey. But first, it had to be determined what exactly the target for protection was. Abies, along with many other genera, are known for their *ahem* promiscuity or interspecific hybridization.

The exact taxonomic placement of this particular fir is debated. It been treated as its own species and as a variety or subspecies of both Abies cephalonica and Abies nordmanniana. Additionally, it is remarkably similar to Abies bornmuelleriana which has also been treated as a subspecies and variety of Abies nordmanniana. To complicate things, its morphological intermediacy, hybrid vigour qualities and pollen sterility suggest that it is a hybrid. Recent work (PDF) using DNA fingerprinting techniques have indeed identified three separate species, Abies nordmanniana, Abies bornmuelleriana and Abies equi-trojani. Protection has been placed on the two latter species which have a limited distribution compared to Abies nordmanniana.

Mar 7, 2012: Effects of Nutrient Changes on Plant Communities

Katherine continues with another entry she's organized for UBC's Celebrate Research Week series. She introduces Dr. Roy Turkington:

Dr. Roy Turkington is a professor of plant ecology at UBC based under the Department of Botany and the Biodiversity Research Centre. The Turkington lab is currently undergoing research in collaboration with Dr. Lauchlan Fraser from Thompson Rivers University, BC and Professor Zhou Zhe-khun at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden and the Kunming Institute of Botany, Yunnan Province in China. Dr. Roy Turkington has been kind enough to share with us two entries regarding his research, first from the Kluane region in the Yukon, Canada, and in an upcoming entry, the Ailaoshan sites in Yunnan, China.

Today's entry, from Dr. Turkington, has photographs from the Yukon Kluane region, more of which are available on the Turkington lab website. The images are of Linnaea borealis (twinflower), Chamerion angustifolium (fireweed) and a study plot. Dr. Turkington writes:

It has been suggested that the application of nutrients to northern communities may simulate some of the same effects in the plant community that might be produced by global environmental change. Global changes such as increasing CO2 concentrations, increasing deposition of nitrogen and sulphur pollutants, and rising temperatures will have crucial impacts on nutrient cycles consequently leading to changes in primary production and species composition. Climate change will increase the supply of nutrients, by stimulating decomposition processes, and increase the rate of soil carbon accumulation. These changes will of course be modified by the interactions between plants and their environment. In the Kluane region we might initially expect that bryophytes, lichens, prostrate growth forms (e.g., Arctostaphylos uva-ursi/ and Linnaea borealis), and low nutrient-requiring species will be suppressed or eliminated by faster-growing, more upright clonal species such as the forbs, Chamerion angustifolium (syn. Epilobium angustifolium) and Mertensia paniculata.

As species composition changes in our plots we inevitably lose a number of species and raises the question if species-impoverished systems will perform less well or less efficiently than their counterpart systems with a full complement of species. To investigate these questions we used a removal experiment called "a functional group knock-out". This was achieved by removing plant functional groups (graminoids, leguminous forbs and non-leguminous forbs) individually and observing changes in community dynamics and ecosystem function. Response variables measured include both community dynamics (species frequency measures and leaf area index) and ecosystem function (above-ground biomass, above and below-ground decomposition rates [using litter bags], nutrient supply rates [using ion exchange membranes], light interception and soil water content). And yes, loss of species does lead to a loss of ecosystem function.

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