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Results tagged “september-26”

Sep 26, 2014: Fascicularia bicolor

Fascicularia bicolor

We have a new author today. Tamara Bonnemaison joins us as one of two Botany Photo of the Day Work-Learn students from now until the end of April. For her first entry, Tamara writes:

Thank you to Christopher Young (aka c.young@Flickr), who shared this beautiful photo of Fascicularia bicolor via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Fascicularia bicolor, or sun bromeliad, is a bromeliad endemic to Chile. Its genus name, Fascicularia, means "clustered together in bundles". This aptly describes the growth habit of this species, which forms mounds of rosettes growing to about 60cm tall. Zizka and Nelson (1997) report that the plant produces edible fruit, but I could not find a description of the fruit or its flavour.

Sun bromeliad is a good example to illustrate the morphological and ecological plasticity of the Bromeliaceae. There are two subspecies of Fascicularia bicolor, with each evolved for very different conditions found on Chile's interior rainforests and coast. Subspecies canaliculata usually grows as an epiphyte in Chile's Valdivian temperate rainforests. This subspecies has leaves with channeled adaxial (upper) surfaces and non-succulent bases, presumably to remove excess water quickly with no need for additional water storage. The other subspecies, bicolor, is saxicolous, meaning it grows in rocky ground. It is generally found in open habitat along Chile's coast. Fascicularia bicolor subsp. bicolor has leaves with a succulent base (to store water) and a flat surface.

I have walked past plants of this species many times at UBC Botanical Garden, and it wasn't until this September that it captured my attention. In the autumn, the inner leaves of Fascicularia bicolor become deep red and a rosette of contrasting blue flowers is revealed. Each rosette will flower only once; although the flowers are short-lived, the fiery leaves add a splash of colour to the garden all winter long. It is no surprise that a previous BPotD entry featuring this species in brief also had a photo taken over the fall/winter. The unusual coloring of Fascicularia bicolor, along with its relative ease of growth, make it popular with gardeners. Fascicularia bicolor subsp. bicolor may well be the hardiest bromeliad in the world, and will grow in full sun to part shade, provided that it is grown in a coarse, well-drained soil.

Despite its beauty, gardeners should beware! The leaves have hooked teeth that make short work of all but the hardiest of work gloves, and it is well worth the forethought to ensure that Fascicularia bicolor is planted in a location where it will need the least amount of handling possible; avoid planting under trees, as pulling fallen leaves out of sun bromeliad's rosette is a dangerous proposition. Needless to say, these hooked teeth are useful in protecting the plant from llamas in its native habitat.

Botany resource link (added by Daniel): New mushroom species discovered in London grocery store (CBC) is an article sent along by a UBC colleague, Dr. David Brownstein (thanks!). The story shows how DNA barcoding has helped mycologists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew discover scientificlly unknown porcini mushroom species in commercially-sold products. See the journal article as well: What's for dinner? Undescribed species of porcini in a commercial packet.

Sep 26, 2013: Pararistolochia praevenosa

Pararistolochia praevenosa

Taisha is the author of today's entry on Pararistolochia praevenosa or the Richmond birdwing butterfly vine. She writes:

This photograph was taken by andreas lambrianides@Flickr, a frequent contributor to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you Andreas for sharing your lovely photo!

Pararistolochia praevenosa is a woody vine species in the Aristolochiaceae or birthwort family. This Australian species is found in subtropical coastal rainforests of northeastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland.

When researching this species online, the first search engine result pages are sites dedicated to conservation efforts for the Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia). It's great when I choose a photograph mainly for its visual appeal, and find out what stories there are to tell! As it turns out, this species of butterfly lays its eggs on Pararistolochia praevenosa. The larvae then feed on the young leaves. Unfortunately, due to rainforest clearing and urban development removing Pararistolochia praevenosa, this butterfly is facing decline. In New South Wales, this butterfly species is listed as threatened while Queenslands' Nature Conservation Act (1992) considers it vulnerable to extinction. Although this butterfly will lay its eggs on the weedy Aristolochia elegans, or Dutchman's pipe, the leaves are poisonous to the larvae, killing them (interestingly in the photo of the day entry on Dutchman's pipe, I learned that other butterfly larvae species actually use the toxins a defense mechanism!). Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect the Richmond birdwing butterfly. These include removing Dutchman's pipe, planting Richmond birdwing butterfly vine in the butterfly's range, and hosting community and school workshops to raise awareness and take action (see: Sands, D. 2008. Conserving the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly over the decades: Where to next?. Ecological Management & Restoration. 9(1):4-16).

Sep 26, 2012: Harewood Plains

Harewood Plains

Bryant has already shared some of his photographs from the mid-May trip to Harewood Plains near Nanaimo, but I thought I'd share one of my own featuring both Mimulus guttatus (common monkeyflower) and Plectritis congesta (sea blush). You can read more about that trip (if you haven't already done so) from Bryant's accounts: UBC Botanical Garden Garry Oak Ecosystem Trip and a couple BPotD entries: Lotus pinnatus and Quercus garryana Ecosystems.

Sep 26, 2011: Banff National Park

Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park

The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are on my mind as I prepare for a near-annual trip to the region for autumn colours. While this photo won't win any awards for visual drama, do note the golden colours of the deciduous trees and shrubs at the base of the avalanche chutes (particularly evident in the larger version of the photograph). Looking akin to a flow of golden lava at this time of year, these are plant communities of frequent ecological disturbance from the physical effects of avalanches.

Avalanche ecology is a relatively new field of study (if the dates on cited papers are a good indication). Seemingly, the suppression of avalanches is somewhat like the suppression of fire in changing ecosystem dynamics (see the results of a study in the Swiss Alps: Kulakowski, D. et al. 2005. Changes in forest structure and in the relative importance of climatic stress as a result of suppression of avalanche disturbances (PDF). Forest Ecology and Management. 223:66-74). Fortunately for the biodiversity of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, I don't believe avalanches are suppressed (or, if at all, in only a few areas). For a broad overview of the importance of avalanches, see this video on the benefits of avalanches from the USFS National Avalanche Center, or, to learn about the importance for grizzly bears specifically, read grizzly bear use of avalanche chutes in the Columbia Mountains.

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