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Results tagged “rubiaceae”

Nov 23, 2012: Rothmannia octomera

Another tropical flower today, this time courtesy of zimbart@Flickr, aka Bart Wursten (original image 1 | original image 2 | via the UBC Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). I believe this is the first time a photograph taken in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been used on Botany Photo of the Day. In addition to these photographs of the flowers, Bart has uploaded photographs of Rothmannia octomera's habit, calyx and fruit.

As a member of the Rubiaceae, Rothmannia octomera is related to such economically important plants as Coffea spp. (responsible for coffee), Cinchona spp. (source of quinine), as well as a number of ornamentals. This latter category includes some other species of Rothmannia, such as Rothmannia capensis. One of the few human uses of Rothmannia octomera that I can find is its use as a dye--the extracted fruit juice is used as a black ink for darkening tattoos or drawing designs on skin.

The species is noted as being common in terra firme, or unflooded, rainforests as well as the edges of seasonally-flooded forest in central Africa. A short description of this 3m tall shrub, as well as additional photographs, is available via the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh's An Introduction to the Trees from the North of the Republic of Congo: Rothmannia octomera.

Aug 8, 2011: Morinda citrifolia

Morinda citrifolia

Today's entry was written by Alexis:

From the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, Doug (shyzaboy@Flickr) shares this photograph of Morinda citrifolia taken in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Thanks, Doug!

Morinda citrifolia is now fairly widely distributed around the world and goes by many names in different countries; it is often called noni, a Hawaiian term, and its English names include rotten cheesefruit, Indian mulberry, and canary wood. Though the species originated in southeast Asia and Australia, it is now naturalized in tropical regions of the Pacific, North America, and South America. Evidently, Morinda citrifolia (PDF) has been known to successfully establish after spreading to new areas, giving it the potential to become invasive. A unique trait the seeds have is the ability to stay viable for several months while in water--a useful skill when dispersing across oceans or rivers. However, the species is not currently considered a major threat.

Morinda citrifolia grows as a shrub or small tree, blooming in the summer and autumn. From a cluster of its flowers comes a single compound fruit or syncarp; the still-developing fruit in the photograph can be expected to turn yellow-white and grow to 5 to 10 cm in length. If you're looking for a possible natural remedy for ailments such as headaches, high blood pressure and muscle pains or if you just need some Vitamin C, the juice of the fruit can be drunk and is sold commercially. The species has also been investigated for prevention of cancer.

Jun 6, 2011: Hydnophytum moseleyanum

Hydnophytum moseleyanum

Today's entry was written by Alexis:

BlueRidgeKitties@Flickr took this photo in January of an ant plant cultivated in North Carolina, USA. Thanks for sharing!

The term myrmecophyte, from the Greek myrmeco meaning "ant" and phyto ("plant"), refers to any species of plant having a symbiotic relationship with ants. Hydnophytum is one such genus that fits into this category of so-called ant-plants. Hydnophytum moseleyanum is an epiphyte native to lowland forests of Indomalaysia. The caudex or thickened stem of these plants (a cross-section of one is pictured) is full of cavities that ants can access from the outside via small holes; the caudex provides a protective habitat for the ant colony (a myrmecodomatium), sheltering the ants from predators and the elements. In return, the ants contribute nutrients to the plant through their waste deposits; the cavities within the caudex have glands especially for soaking up these nutrients. Additionally, the ants may also protect the plants from herbivores (PDF) like snails and slugs. Some Hydnophytum species are also host to fungi, which can grow on the cavity surfaces (and possibly the reason for the name of the genus, meaning fungus-plant (hydnum = "fungus").

Jun 3, 2011: Neolamarckia cadamba

Neolamarckia cadamba

Written again today by Alexis: 3Point141@Flickr shares this photo of the kadamba tree, taken in Kolkata, India. Thanks, 3Point141!

Neolamarckia cadamba is a deciduous tree found in broadleaf forests and streamside valley habitats across China, India and southeast Asia. Also known as common bur-flower tree, kadamb or kadamba tree, it is a fast-growing pioneer species reaching 36m in height. The photograph shows the cream-coloured styles and stigmas protruding from the spherical heads of the yellow-orange flowers, producing a unique Koosh ball-like inflorescence that measures 2.5 to 4cm in diameter. Though the individual flowers appear tightly clustered, they are in fact separate and not fused together (PDF). The tree yields infructescences that are comprised of several tightly packed fruit capsules and contain many tiny seeds that are dispersed mainly by bats.

Neolamarckia cadamba is often mistaken for Mitragyna parviflora, a tree (sometimes also mistakenly called kadamb) associated with the Indian town of Brindavan and legends of the Hindu deity Krishna. A well-known tale involves Krishna stealing the clothes of the Gopis, cow-herd girls and devotees of Krishna, then climbing up the nearest kadamba tree and making the girls retrieve their garments, perhaps to teach them a lesson. Mitragyna parviflora is native to the hot, dry forests of the Brindavan area; Neolamarckia cadamba prefers moist forests and would not survive under those conditions (Krishen's Trees of Delhi).

May 17, 2011: Houstonia caerulea

Houstonia caerulea

Known commonly as bluets, innocence, or Quaker-ladies, Houstonia caerulea is an annual or perennial herb growing to 20cm (8in.). The genus is named after the Scottish-born botanist William Houstoun, who, at 38, died from the heat in Jamaica. The specific epithet caerulea refers to the colour of the flowers, caerulean.

Native to much of the eastern USA and Canada, Houstonia caerulea is one of twenty or so species in the genus (all native to central and eastern North America), and one of the most widespread. In addition to dispersing by seed, plants spread through slender rhizomes, leading to the formation of clumping colonies. Many of these colonies were evident along the immediate roadside of the Blue Ridge Parkway, appearing as patches of blue among the green roadside grasses.

Apr 6, 2011: Coprosma brunnea

Coprosma brunnea

Before starting today's entry, some of you will have perhaps noticed that most BPotD's are being published late at night recently. We're pushing hard here at UBC Botanical Garden to complete a redesigned web site for next week, so perhaps things will settle down soon. Also, thanks to the kind donations of BPotD readers and UBC Botanical Garden Forums participants, it looks like I'll be able to advertise for a summer work-study position to help with BPotD. Claire Fadul, hired under the winter-spring work-study program (thanks to donations), is helping for a few more weeks. She wrote today's entry:

This beautiful close-up of a Coprosma brunnea berry is courtesy of Liddy2007@Flickr via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you Liddy!

Coprosma brunnea, the aptly-named opal berry, (many Coprosma species also have the nicknames "mirror bush" or "looking-glass bush") is a native of New Zealand. This species is an open, mat-forming, evergreen shrub. The attractive berry is edible, though not considered sweet-tasting. The wood of this species can be used to make yellow dye.

Coprosma shares an intriguing characteristic with a few other New Zealand genera: some Coprosma have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the palisade cell layer of leaves, stipules, and domatia. C. Van Hove and A. S. Craig investigated this phenomenon and observed that the symbiosis is not an obligate one (it doesn't have to occur for plant survival).

Coprosma belongs to the Rubiaceae (or madder family. Rubiaceae has a world-wide distribution (though mostly tropical), and with over 600 genera and 13 000 species, it is the 4th-largest family of flowering plant ranked by species diversity. Many Rubiaceae have properties that prevent self-fertilization. In the case of Coprosma brunnea, the species is dioecious (separate male and female plants, so cross-pollination is required). To ensure development of the beautiful fruit in a cultivated environment, it is therefore necessary to have both male and female plants of this wind-pollinated species.

Apr 15, 2008: Calycophyllum candidissimum

Calycophyllum candidissimum

Thanks once again to Jackie Chambers for a photograph and a write-up.

Calycophyllum candidissimum is native to southern Mexico, Cuba, and Central & South America. It has the distinction of being the national tree of Nicaragua, where it has the common name El MadroƱo. Other common names include degami (or dagame) and lemonwood, which refers to the light brown yellow colour of the wood.

This small to medium size hardwood tree can reach 12-15m in height. For an idea of size and growth habit, see the "tree form" photographs on this website.

The species name candisissimum means "very white" and must refer to the showy flower clusters produced in December and January. The white leaf-like forms beneath the flowers are actually bracts and are a component of the flower cluster. Their role is to attract pollinators.

The fruit is a brown capsule that splits open once it is mature (January - May). Leaves are a dark green and simple in an opposite arrangement along the stem. The leaves may be shed during periods of drought. The link above regarding flower clusters also provides detailed photos of leaves, capsules and seeds.

Calycophyllum candidissimum is used in archery, as it is apparently a very good wood for making bows.

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