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Results tagged “november-14”

Nov 14, 2012: Phyllostachys elegans

Phyllostachys elegans

There were many highlights to our botanical trip to the southeast USA earlier this year, including a visit to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia. The institution does indeed have a lot of history (from their web site): "[The Barbour Lathrop Bamboo Collection] is the result of the USDA's effort to introduce to the public, particularly southern farmers, the many uses of bamboo. The collection began in 1902, when Barbour Lathrop asked Dr. David Fairchild to obtain plants for him in Japan. Organized collecting began in earnest in 1906 by Frank Meyer, a USDA plant explorer, and continued with Dr. F.A. McClure until 1945. With over 150 species, this is the largest collection of bamboo available for public viewing in the United States."

Phyllostachys elegans, or elegant bamboo, was scientifically named and described by the same Dr. McClure in the Journal of the Arnold Arboretum in 1956. Names and descriptions of plants have to be based on a physical object, i.e., a specimen of some kind (typically a dried plant specimen, but historically an illustration would also have sufficed). This specimen that is used to define the species is designated the type specimen. Reading Dr. McClure's account (New Species in the Bamboo Genus Phyllostachys and Some Nomenclatural Notes), I noted the type specimen for Phyllostachys elegans was from a plant in the Barbour Lathrop Bamboo Collection, having the identification number 128778--the same as the plant in today's photograph. In other words, the species Phyllostachys elegans was named and described from this exact plant. From the label: "Phyllostachys elegans. Elegant bamboo. Plant #128778. Max ht. 32ft. Max. dia. 2.25". Min. Temp. 0F. Collected 1936 by F. A. McClure, Hainan Island. Received 1938, USDA, Savannah, Georgia. Origin: China. Prized as ornamental and for shoots."

Additional descriptions of this species are available via the Flora of China: Phyllostachys elegans and RBG Kew: Phyllostachys elegans.

Nov 14, 2011: Picea glauca

I think I'll forego the plants and mammals series I had planned, and instead share an occasional entry on the topic. Today's photographs were taken near the same site as this photograph. I had returned to that area in early October to perhaps make similar photographs of the to-me intriguing palette of colours, but the leaves had not yet changed enough. While returning to the vehicle, I also decided to check an antler I noted the previous year in the nearby forest, and that's when I stumbled upon this American red squirrel midden I had missed seeing before.

Despite frequenting a forest inhabited by American red squirrels when growing up, I don't recall ever having encountered a squirrel midden before--if I had, certainly not one of this size. Constructed almost entirely of the cones and cone pieces of white spruce, this midden measured approximately 4m x 3m (13ft x 10ft), with a depth at the centre certainly exceeding 30cm (1ft.). It actually took me a minute or so to figure out the origin of this huge pile of cones (despite the obvious burrows), and I even recall looking up to see if the trees here were particularly laden with cones. Eventually, however, I was chided by the midden's proprietor and the obvious was revealed to me.

As squirrels go, this one was relatively uninterested in scolding me for being nearby. Instead, it continued to gather more food for the winter. I had one opportunity to photograph the squirrel beside the midden, but it was too quick for me; the next chance to photograph the squirrel occurred a half-hour later, shared above with it showing off its cone-gathering skills.

Picea glauca, or white spruce, is native to northern North America, one of a only a few tree species native to every province and territory in Canada. Its range extends southwards into the northern USA (and is also found in Alaska). Other common names include Canadian spruce, skunk spruce, and cat spruce, the latter two names referring to the unpleasant odour often associated with the plants.

Rodent middens, when they include a diversity of plant species, are helpful for palaeoecologists to understand the changes in plant communities over time. A recent article: Diaz, FP. et al., 2011. Rodent middens reveal episodic, long-distance plant colonizations across the hyperarid Atacama Desert over the last 34,000 years. Journal of Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02617.x .

And, using that as a segue from Jasper to the Atacama Desert, I also thought I'd share a link forwarded to me this weekend: (Nov. 15 edit: apparently the next link only works if you have a Google Account, but you can find the story online if you search for the article title) Desert in bloom: colors explode in Chile's Atacama (additional photographs of the Atacama by Gerhard Hüdepohl).

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