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Results tagged “proteaceae”

Aug 20, 2014: Mimetes cucullatus

Here is Taisha again, with the third entry on South African plants and biomes. She writes:

Today we feature two photographs of Mimetes cucullatus, known as the common mimetes or pagoda or the red mimetes or pagoda. In Afrikaans, this species is known as rooistompie, or simply stompie. Rooi means "red", and stompie means "little stump". Retired UBC Botanical Garden staff member, David Tarrant, sent these images from his visit to Cape Town's Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden last November. Thank you kindly, David!

The fynbos is a biome located in southwestern South Africa. It consists of two distinct vegetation groupings, the fynbos and the renosterveld. These regions together form over 45000 km2 of land, all above 300 meters in elevation. Renosterveld typically has fertile, fine-grained soils of silts and clays whereas fynbos has poorer nutrient quality. Rainfall occurs throughout the year and accumulates anywhere from 300-2000 mm annually. Fire is an important influence on fynbos community processes, and the region must burn every 6 to 45 years to sustain many plant species.

Mimetes cucullatus is an example of a plant that relies on fire for regeneration. This is the only species of Mimetes that is a resprouter (as opposed to only being a reseeder). After fire, plants regenerate from a large, woody, underground rootstock, whereas most others are killed by fire (unless they have a thick, corky bark and survive). Seedlings will also sprout post-fire when conditions are suitable.

Common mimetes is a widespread species. It is easy to distinguish from other members of the Proteaceae with its unusual tubular and wool-like flowers grouped in four perianth segments. In bud, the segments touch each other, but do not overlap. They then separate as the flower opens to expose the style equipped with a sticky pollen presenter. Stigmas on these perfect flowers are not receptive at anthesis, thus preventing self-pollination. Within each of the white tuft-like perianth segments rests a single anther. Colourful leaves surround each floret like a hood. After pollination by sunbirds or sugarbirds, a nut-like fruit develops. The seeds within the fruit have elaiosomes (grey-white oily protuberances) at either end. These eliaosomes attract ants, who collect the seeds to carry back to their underground nests. There, they eat the elaiosomes, but do no damage to the seeds. Seeds deposited in ant nests can remain viable for many years.

Jul 18, 2013: Protea cynaroides

Protea cynaroides

Taisha wrote today's entry:

Today's photo is of Protea cynaroides, or the king protea. This image of the national flower of South Africa was taken by Marie Viljoen@Flickr on January 8, 2012 in its native country. Thanks Marie!

Protea cynaroides is native to South Africa, where it is found across much of the biodiverse fynbos region of the country at elevations from sea level to 1500 meters. It mainly grows in sunny areas with acidic, well-draining soil. Bloom times, flower colour, flower size and leaf size vary significantly across its range, associated (at least in part) with differences in geoclimatic factors. The genus name Protea is fitting then, considering it is named after the Greek god Proteus, who according to mythology was said to be able to change his shape at will. The specific epithet means "like Cynara", in reference to the resemblance the flowering heads have to artichokes.

King protea is known for its large, showy, dome-shaped inflorescences made up of many tepaloid flowers subtended by stiff showy bracts. This evergreen shrub has glossy leathery leaves growing from a thick woody stalk.

Jul 17, 2013: Banksia robur

Banksia robur

BPotD Work-Learn student Taisha is again the author of today's entry. She writes:

Today's photo is of Banksia robur, or the swamp banksia. This photo was taken in May of 2009 at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney in Australia by sftrajan@Flickr (aka Eric). Thanks for the photo, sftrajan!

Swamp banksia is native to coastal eastern Australia, where it prefers areas with damp soil and full sun. A small shrub, Banksia robur reaches 2 to 3 meters in height. The egg shaped, or obovate, leathery leaves are toothed on the margins and have an obvious midvein visible from both sides. The underside of the leaves is fuzzy. The characteristic inflorescence of this genus is made up of hundreds of small florets attached to a rachis or central column. This species' flowers are greenish with greenish-cream, almost metallic-looking claws, that later turn brown after anthesis. A small number of these flowers will develop into the fruits, called follicles. The follicles will only open after being burnt by fire or severe and extended drought.

He, Lamont, & Downes from the University of Western Australia looked at Banksia species and their favourable traits for survival in a fire-prone environment. They were hoping to uncover when these traits first appeared, at what rate they proliferated, and what the co-evolution of fire-dependent and fire-enhancing traits say about fire as a selective force on the evolution of Banksia species. They found that numerous members of the genus are both serotinous (dependent on environmental triggers, in this case fire, for seed release) and woody fruit-retaining.

This co-evolution of a fire-dependent trait and fire-enhancing trait were shown to be present within the genus since early fossil records from 60 million years ago in the Paleocene, implying that fire was then an evolutionary selective force. The retention of dead leaves, a trait first appearing 35 mya, in conjunction with retaining the dead floral parts ensures serotinous species burn hot enough to melt the resin that seals the valves of the capsules containing the seeds. Lastly, clonality--the ability to resprout via underground stems, rhizomes, and root suckers--allows for regrowth after a fire. Clonality is ensured by the meristematic tissues being insulated by soil and by being a poorer heat conductor than bark. This adaptation has been present within the genus since the Miocene, around 16-20 mya, which was noted to also be the era when climatic seasonality commenced and fires became more (or perhaps less) prevalent in the area.

He et al. suggest that fire has greatly influenced the evolution of clonality within Banksia, but that other pressures also contributed and thus resprouting should not be used as a single trait in trying to understand its evolution. Overall, the role of fire as an evolutionary selective force is controversial, but their results provide support for the hypothesis that there is an association between land plants and fire before the onset of seasonal aridity in Australia. Their results also suggest some land plant groups have evolved a set of traits in response to fire regimes and that these traits can be used to test evolutionary theory (see: He, T., Lamont, B. B., Downes, K. S. 2011. Banksia born to burn. New Phytologist. 191:184-196).

Sep 25, 2012: Hakea victoria

Hakea victoria

Brief entries when they occur for the remainder of this week, as I'm away from the office.

A thank you to Rotuli@Flickr for sharing today's image via the UBC Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Native to a small area of Western Australia, Hakea victoria is an erect shrub growing to 3m tall. Its common names include royal hakea and lantern hakea. For additional photographs, see Hakea victoria via FloraBase: the Western Australia Flora.

Jun 12, 2012: Banksia ericifolia

Banksia ericifolia

Today's entry was assembled by Bryant. He writes:

I would like to thank Rotuli@Flickr (weblog) for today's image of Banksia ericifolia, or heath-leaved banksia, via the UBC Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

This medium to large woody shrub is a member of the Proteaceae, a relatively large family consisting of 75 or so genera and approximately 1775 species. The name Proteaceae was derived from Proteus, a mythical Greek god who was believed to be capable of assuming a variety of forms. It is fitting then that many of the genera within the Proteaceae are also similarly variable in form, Banksia included. Banksia demonstrates one of the most extraordinary examples of adaptive radiation among the kingdom Plantae. This genus ranges from small xeric shrubs that inhabit desert environments to tall trees that can grow upwards of 25m in loamy river basins. Other notable differences in adaptations among species of this genus include: fire survival strategies and floral/foliar morphologies.

Banksia ericifolia is native to eastern Australia, usually associated with coastal environments. Flowering occurs during fall and early to mid-winter (March-July) and it often takes several years for a plant to flower. After the plant is done flowering the seed maturation begins within the woody, cone-like pod structure that formed the support structure for the inflorescence. The seeds are nestled inside follicles, which have a heat-activated valve. The follicles only open when they are burnt by a fire, thus making Banksia ericifolia dependent on fire for seedling regeneration. However, fires kill the mother plant and because it can take several years (usually a minimum of 4 years) for the plant to flower, they are susceptible to frequent fires, which can wipe out populations that have yet to form seeds.

Since Banksia ericifolia is an autumn-flowering plant, it serves as a vital source of late season food for a variety of different pollinators. Moths, bees, birds, and even small mammals pollinate this particular species! A study conducted in Bundjalung National Park by Damian J. Hackett and Ross L. Goldingay (Pollination of Banksia spp. by non-flying mammals in northeastern New South Wales) concluded that Banksia ericifolia was foraged by a number of small mammals including the marsupial Antechinus flavipes (yellow-footed antechinus), as well as Rattus tunneyi (pale field-rat) and Melomys burtoni (grassland mosaic-tailed rat). The amount of pollen carried by these mammals was comparable to that typically carried by a nectivorous bird or bat. Lynn Carpenter's 1978 study, "Hooks for mammal pollination?" suggests that the hooked styles of the flowers may play a role in the pollination of Banksia ericifolia by non-flying mammals.

Banksia ericifolia can be cultivated rather easily from seed, if given the right conditions to grow. In its native range, Banksia ericifolia usually occurs on acidic sandstone soil and is exposed to large amounts of rain during the warmer months. This species also enjoys full sun and sandy well-drained soil with sufficient amounts of iron.

Jan 17, 2012: Leucadendron discolor

Leucadendron discolor

Leucadendron discolor, commonly known as the Piketberg conebush, is native to only a small part of Western Cape Province in South Africa. In 1998, it was assessed as globally endangered, as fewer than 5000 individual mature shrubs (or small trees) were known to remain, all within an area of 20km2. However, this species of rocky sandstone soils is found in cultivation in areas like California and Australia. Today's photograph is from the San Francisco Botanical Garden, while frequent contributor to BPotD, Eric in SF@Flickr, has shared a (better) photograph of a plant from the Santa Cruz Arboretum: Leucadendron discolor.

Nov 15, 2011: Banksia grandis

Banksia grandis

Today's entry was written by Katherine:

Thank you Pete (aka UnclePedro@Flickr) for today's photograph of a Banksia grandis sapling, showing the bright red colour characteristic of young growth.

Banksia grandis is native to Western Australia and can grow either as a shrub (along the south coast, among granite rocks) or more commonly as a tree 5 to 10m in height (sometimes up to 15m). A map of the distribution of Banksia grandis is available via the Western Australian Herbarium's FloraBase website. According to the WA Herbarium, Banksia grandis grows in sandy and laterite soils (soils rich in iron and aluminum, formed in hot & wet tropical areas). Banksia grandis blooms in the summer months, September to December or January, with yellow-green flowers maturing to become bright yellow. The flower heads measure approximately 40cm long and 10cm wide. After flowering, the structure supporting the fruit becomes quite woody, and these cones are used in wood-turning.

Wikipedia notes that Banksia grandis is commonly known as bull banksia, giant banksia or mangite in English. The species is also known as mangyt, pulgarla or Bool gal la by the indigenous peoples, who steeped the flowers in water or sucked them to obtain nectar. The Wikipedia article also mentions that while the differences in growth (shrub vs. tree) are retained when the coastal plants are grown elsewhere, no subspecific taxa are recognized.

Research has been conducted on the reproductive ecology of Banksia grandis by Abbott (see: Abbott, I. 1985. Reproductive ecology of Banksia grandis (Proteaceae). New Phytol. 99(129-148)). One practical application of this research included helping to determine the feasibility of reducing the size of the healthy Banksia grandis populations in order to manage the spread of an associated introduced fungal pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi--a pathogen endangering more sensitive and/or threatened species. The Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management shows the extent of Phytophthora cinnamomi in Western Australia, as well as illustrating the impact of the pathogen on native plant communities.

Mar 23, 2011: Banksia media

Banksia media

Claire wrote and organized today's entry:

This photograph of Banksia media, taken at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens in Ballarat, Australia, is courtesy of Eric (sftrajan@Flickr) of San Francisco, California (shared via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). Thank you Eric!

Banksia is a fascinating genus in Proteaceae that is (mostly) endemic to Australia. One species in the genus is more broadly distributed, ranging to New Guinea and the Aru Islands, while a recent fossil discovery (published in 2010) also places the genus in New Zealand in the distant past.

Banksia media of Western Australia is but one example of a genus known for spike inflorescences that can contain thousands of flowers (though not all species have this characteristic). The cylindrical spikes of Banksia media can be up to 15cm tall and nearly 10cm wide when flowering. When flowering in the wild from winter to spring, the spikes are an irresistible perch, with the flowers being a treat to pollinators. Both birds and bees flock there due to nectar production. The bright yellow color of the thousands of flowers gives the species the common name of golden stalk.

In the summer, the once-flowery spikes of Banksia media become woody cones filled with hard follicles. As the species is fire-sensitive (no lignotuber to regenerate vegetatively after fires), new generations of the plant rely on propagation from seeds residing in the soil. Gardeners in coastal areas of Australia enjoy this plant for its ability to tolerate a range of soil conditions, moisture regimes and salt spray.

Jan 31, 2011: Mimetes fimbriifolius

Mimetes fimbriifolius

Claire wrote today's entry:

Today's photograph of Mimetes fimbriifolius, taken in Western Cape, South Africa, is courtesy of Marie Viljoen (marieviljoen@Flickr) of Brooklyn, New York. You may want to read Marie's weblog post, Walking above Muizenberg, where she writes about encountering this tree (and many other plants). Thank you Marie!

A proteaceous species endemic to the Cape Peninsula of South Africa, Mimetes fimbriifolus is currently classified as a rare species, though it was once commonly found on Table Mountain. Also called tree pagoda, this species has been heavily harvested for its wood for the past three centuries, one of the main detriments in sustaining its population. A thick, cork-like trunk is characteristic of Mimetes fimbriifolus, and the tree can reach up to four meters (13ft.) tall with wide-spreading branches. The interesting flowers and coloured bracts, located at the tips of the branches, are shaped this way to facilitate pollination by nectar-eating birds--usually sunbirds or Cape Sugarbirds.

Mimetes fimbriifolus is one of the largest and longest-lived members of its genus. Despite a lifespan reaching possibly a century (in which it has many reproductive years, but takes a decade or so to mature), seed production is the only mechanism by which it propagates in the wild; adult individuals are unable to re-sprout from stump or roots like some shorter-lived members of its genus. This has been particularly disadvantageous for this species in recent centuries, as the natural cycle of fires was replaced with more frequent burnings upon European colonization of the area. These too frequent fires have also been a detriment to the species, as populations of Mimetes fimbriifolius can be wiped out when plants do not have enough time to mature and produce seeds before the next adult-killing fire. Mimetes fimbriifolus has evolved some mechanisms to resist fire during its life cycle: seeds are often stored deep underground by ants (protection); seed germination is triggered by a fire (it would typically be many years between natural fires, so germinating post-fire would provide opportunity for the seedling to reach adulthood); and juvenile trees have a thick, fire-resistant bark with buds deep within, so a partially-burned juvenile can re-sprout. However, these adaptations are negated with too-frequent burning.

Dec 16, 2010: Knightia excelsa

Knightia excelsa

Claire wrote today's entry:

Thank you to Tony Foster (Tonyfoster@Flickr) of Kaeo, New Zealand, for this close-up of the inflorescence of Knightia excelsa. The photograph was made during full bloom in October of last year, and submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Check out Tony's Phytography weblog!

Knightia excelsa, otherwise known as rewarewa, is a Proteaceae native to New Zealand in the North Island and Marlborough Sounds of the South Island. It is one of only three species of Knightia (the other two are native to New Caledonia). Also known as "New Zealand honeysuckle", rewarewa is the more widely used name, and of Mäori origin. Knightia excelsa has a cultural importance to the Mäori people; it has been suggested that the large seed-pods (a link to Tony's weblog) of this evergreen tree are the exact model of Mäori canoes (PDF) (they make excellent toy canoes, as well).

Knightia excelsa has other practical applications in honey production and woodworking. The attractive timber is light, grainy, and reddish-orange; it is most commonly used for ornamental inlays and smaller items as it is not durable and retains a lot of moisture (I suggest an image search for rewarewa wood to get an idea of what woodwork with this species looks like).

Since the image today is of the flowers of Knightia excelsa, it is also worth noting that they are pleasantly fragrant, rich in nectar, and mostly bird-pollinated. The fascinating inflorescence is likely meant for decreasing cross-pollination and making the nectar reward accessible to frequenters like tuis and bellbirds.

Sep 30, 2010: Hakea cinerea

Hakea cinerea

Thanks to everyone who welcomed Claire yesterday -- I know she appreciates it. We may or may not get another entry from her before I'm away again starting tomorrow, but once we reach mid-October, you'll be seeing a lot more of her writing (this is also when I plan to move the site to the new server).

Today's photograph is courtesy once again of foliosus@flickr, aka Brent Miller of Portland, Oregon. It looks like Brent took a trip recently to Southern Australia, as this image was taken south of Adelaide (original image via the BPotD Flickr Pool. Thank you!

Species of Hakea have twice previously been featured on BPotD: Hakea epiglottis (grown here at UBC) and the brilliant Hakea laurina. Hakea cinerea, or the ashy hakea (or ashy-leaved), is native to Australia, like all of the 150 or so species in the genus. Specifically, it is endemic to Western Australia (the plant featured in the photograph is cultivated in a reserve), where it generally grows within 70km of parts of the southern coastline. A shrub that grows to 2.5m (8ft), it is typically found in swamps, heathland or Mallee woodland, in gravelly or sandy soils.

The specific epithet cinerea means "ash-coloured", a reference to the leaves. Photographs of these are available via the Esperance Wildflowers weblog: Hakea cinerea. Additional photographs of the flowers are available via the Electronic Flora of South Australia: Hakea cinerea.


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