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Results tagged “written by douglas”

May 29, 2014: Toona sinensis

Douglas Justice, Associate Director of Horticulture and Collections, shares both his photographs and writing skills today. He scribes:

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew the other day. I spent most of a day wandering, familiarizing myself with many unfamiliar species, and rediscovering a number of remarkable specimens. Something I hadn't noticed on previous visits was a stately Chinese mahogany. As mature trees of Toona sinensis are rare in Vancouver, I took a number of pictures. I thought it would be a good addition to the images we've already compiled for the soon-to-be-released app, Vancouver Trees. Building on that here, I've included an excerpt from the text on Toona sinensis.

Toona is a small mostly tropical genus in the mahogany family (Meliaceae), with species native from western Asia to Australia. All mahoganies are tall trees that have large, spirally arranged, pinnately compound leaves and tiny flowers borne in often huge, pendent inflorescences. The trees are prized for their high quality timber, but most species are now scarce because of overcutting in their native ranges.

Toona sinensis, which was previously known as Cedrela sinensis, is native to much of temperate and tropical Asia and is the northernmost species in the family. It is a large, spectacularly handsome deciduous tree, capable of growing 40 m or more tall in the wild and developing a buttressed trunk like that of large tropical hardwoods. In cultivation here [in Vancouver], Chinese toon, which is also known as Chinese cedar or Chinese mahogany, grows to about 15 m tall. Trees are famously variable--subtle variations in leaf shape, size, colour and hairiness are so common in the wild that eight named variants of this single species have been recognized by Chinese authors. The most common variant in cultivation, which is represented locally by the Australian cultivar 'Flamingo', displays shoots that emerge brilliant scarlet and expand to bright shrimp pink before turning green. Less flamboyant seedling plants are also cultivated, but all tend to display reddish or bronze purple new growth in late spring. Foliage generally becomes light yellow-green by mid summer and in autumn turns yellow before the leaves fall. In China and Indochina, the new shoots of Toona sinensis are used as a cooked vegetable (the redder, younger shoots being the tastiest, or at least, the most sought after) and in South Asia the mature foliage is used for animal feed. The bark and roots of trees are widely used in folk medicine. It is the only mahogany that can be successfully grown in the Vancouver area.

Toona sinensis may be confused [locally] with Ailanthus altissima on account of its large, tropical looking pinnate foliage, but tree of heaven leaves are malodorous (not the bark and wood) and the leaflets are broader and more conspicuously asymmetric, often with a basal lobe to one side. Other possible confusions are with bitter ash (Picrasma) and walnuts (Juglans), but the largest leaflets in the pinnate leaves of Picrasma are closest to the tip, and in Juglans species they are in the middle of the leaf. Like Chinese toon, walnut trees are somewhat aromatic, but the aromatic compounds in walnuts are mostly sweet smelling alkyl-aldehydes (e.g., the aldehyde hexane, which is a common constituent in Juglans tissue, smells of freshly cut grass), whereas sulphur compounds are responsible for giving Toona its peculiar aroma. In flower, Toona displays pendent, airy clusters of small, cream-coloured unisexual flowers, but these are produced only on mature specimens in mid summer. Small capsules follow, but the copiously produced winged seeds do not appear to be viable without cross pollination. The names toon and Toona are probably derived from the Chinese name, xiang chūn (literally, tree vegetable).

Mar 24, 2014: Theobroma grandiflorum

Another entry written by Douglas Justice from his recent trip to Colombia:

While visiting Colombia in January, I had occasion to sample a number of delicious, yet mostly unfamiliar, fruits and vegetables. I suspect that botanically inclined Temperate Zone travellers would agree that tropical fruits are one of the great pleasures of travelling in warmer climes. Sadly, I did not have the presence of mind to photograph all of them, or even remember the names of some. Many I wanted to try, but didn't have an opportunity. One of the strangest fruits that I did manage to photograph was Theobroma grandiflorum, a close relative of cocoa (see earlier BPotD entries on Theobroma cacao from 2006 and Theobroma cacao from 2009). The photographs were taken in a garden in Quindío Department, one of the coffee-growing areas of Colombia. The species is native to the Amazon basin and widely cultivated in tropical areas of South America.

I was first attracted by an amazingly powerful, complex aroma of what I assumed were flowers. However, the curious-looking, droopy, velvety brown 20-cm-long fruits are also fragrant and I'm not sure which aroma drifting around the trees was which. Various web sites trumpet the nutritional properties and medicinal benefits of copoazú (also: cupuaçu, cupuassu, cupuazú, cupu assu, and copoasu). The creamy flesh evidently smells of chocolate and pineapple, and tastes of pear, banana, pineapple and mango peel (I'm sure people who are familiar with this fruit will weigh in with opinions). Copoazú is used in cosmetics manufacture and for supplements, but is primarly used by local people for juices and to flavour ice cream. See the Wikipedia entry on copoazú for more images and information.

Mar 18, 2014: Bactris gasipaes

Douglas Justice, UBC Botanical Garden's Associate Director of Horticulture and Collections, wrote today's entry:

I was recently on a botanical tour to study endangered magnolias in the mountains of Colombia. That country boasts an almost unbelievably rich assemblage of plants. According to some estimates, there are 50,000 vascular plant species native to Colombia. Besides the magnolias, which were certainly impressive, I was struck most by the diversity of palms. We saw both wild and cultivated palms, including the astonishing Ceroxylon quindiuense (Quindío wax palm), written about in a previous Botany Photo of the Day. The number of palms in Colombia is staggering--there are 44 different genera and some 230 species. Our group had the amazing good fortune to visit the home of Rodrigo Bernal, the author of numerous publications on palms, and co-author of the recently published Palmas de Colombia Guía de Campo (Field Guide to the Palms of Colombia). Planted out on his small farm were hundreds of species of palms, including fine specimens of Bactris gasipaes (known as chontaduro in Colombia, and commonly called peach-palm in English).

Bactris is a genus of about 240 species of spiny palms native to Central and South America. According to David Jones in his book Palms Throughout the World (a spectacularly good introduction to the world of palms), some Bactris species are ornamental, but have not become popular in cultivation. Little wonder, considering their fearsome armature. Nevertheless, Bactris gasipaes is cultivated widely for its edible fruits, which resemble peaches to some degree (see the Wikipedia entry on Bactris gasipaes for images), as well as for its "cabbage." Palm cabbage (a.k.a. palm hearts, or palmito) refers to the edible apical bud and unexpanded leaf sheathes and leaves of certain palms. Palm cabbage is sometimes known as millionaire's salad, as palms must be felled to harvest this material--a single palm, which may be of considerable age, supplying a single heart. Indeed, a number of palms are now endangered throughout the tropics because of such harvesting. Bactris gasipaes is often promoted for its cabbage, as it is an exceptionally fast grower--harvestable at 12 to 18 months. It is a good substitute for threatened palm species because it naturally grows multiple stems from its roots, and hence, can provide a more sustainable harvest. A fascinating and exhaustive analysis of the peach-palm from a crop perspective can be seen in this article by Hernández Bermejo, J. E. and J. León, Eds., published by the FAO.

And an update from a few weeks ago, by Daniel: Some of you expressed an interest with the Carex interrupta entry to to be updated when more about Dana Cromie's Remnants exhibition was available online. You can now view some images from the opening reception, check out some of the prints on Dana's site, or read a review published in The Ubyssey: Dana Cromie depicts natural devastation at Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

Feb 27, 2012: Rhododendron 'Cornubia'

Today's entry was written by Douglas Justice, UBC Botanical Garden's Curator of Collections. Douglas writes:

Rhododendron 'Cornubia' is one of the few hybrid rhododendrons cultivated in the UBC Botanical Garden collection. The parentage of this beautiful plant includes three Himalayan species, all of them superb in their own right and all of them cultivated in our collection. The cross is Rhododendron 'Shilsonii' (Rhododendron barbatum × Rhododendron thomsonii) × Rhododendron arboreum 'Blood Red'. 'Cornubia' is not a common plant locally and is notoriously shy to flower, especially when winters are cold. Our specimen, which was a bit of a mystery plant for many years, is located in the David C. Lam Asian Garden where it is growing exceptionally well, and now blooming with some regularity.

The focus in the Asian Garden has always been on species rhododendrons, but for the past twenty or so years, our attention has increasingly shifted to the cultivation of plants of known provenance (i.e., from documented wild-collected seed). Hardly the place for a hybrid rhododendron, but 'Cornubia' had only flowered once or twice since it had been planted in the early 1990s, and until about ten years ago, when it was finally identified, it had an old label that identified it as Rhododendron fulgens, which it clearly was not. One of the problems with a large rhododendron collection (or any collection of plants for that matter) is that identifications need to be verified, labels applied, and records kept up to date. The process has to be repeated periodically, because, as everyone knows, plant names change, specimens are moved and labels are inevitably lost (or stolen). From a curatorial perspective, we know better than to be doctrinaire about the "purity" of our collections. It's a beautiful plant. It's correctly labeled, and growing well. We'll keep it where it is.

Nov 7, 2011: Parthenocissus thomsonii

UBC Botanical Garden's Curator of Collections, Douglas Justice, wrote the foundation of today's entry. I've made a few edits to adapt his text for Botany Photo of the Day:

Parthenocissus comes from parthenos meaning "virgin" and kissos ("ivy"). It refers to the English common name of the eastern American Virginia creeper or Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia was named for Queen Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen"). Parthenocissus is a genus of about 10 species of climbing plants that climb by means of leaf tendrils that either twine or have adhesive pads (Daniel: for more on the adhesive pads, see the previous entry on Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Robusta').

The main attraction of Parthenocissus thomsonii is its five-fingered leaves, which are bronzy-purple in spring turning glossy green at maturity and deep red in the fall. The fruits are black. This Asian climber was collected in Assam (India) in 1900 by E. H. Wilson and later introduced by him from China. It is similar to the more common Parthenocissus henryana, but differs in its leaves, which lack central silver markings, and in having tendrils that only branch in pairs (Parthenocissus henryana along with most other Parthenocissus species have multi-branched tendrils). Flora of China places Parthenocissus thomsonii in a different genus (Yua) on account of this difference in tendril characteristics.

Daniel: These are photographs from the David C. Lam Asian Garden. You'll note in the second image that the Parthenocissus is smothering the western hemlock it is using for support, so the vine will likely be cut down to the ground this winter as part of the Garden's aggressive vine management policy.

Jul 27, 2009: Koelreuteria paniculata

The Garden's Curator of Collections, Douglas Justice, took today's Botany Photo of the Day. He wrote the accompanying entry as well.

Koelreuteria paniculata, or golden rain tree, is a drought resistant tree from China, grown for its abundant summer flowers and its papery, lantern-like fruit. It forms a broad crown (to 15 m) with pinnate leaves that emerge hot-pink before turning green. Known as Luan in China, its flowers are used both as a yellow dye and in traditional medicine, and the tree is planted over the graves of scholars. The inflated capsular fruit are wind-blown, and they ultimately shatter in order to disseminate the seeds. Though it is naturalized in many places (Korea, Japan, and the U.S.), because of its drought tolerance and capacity for long-distance dispersal K. paniculata does not generally spread under Vancouver's wet winter conditions.

This specimen, planted at the Botanical Garden entrance, was grown from wild seed collected in South Korea. Another specimen from the same seed batch faced this tree from across the courtyard. The other tree was less compact in growth and considerably inferior with respect to flowering, but its seed capsules were always coloured bright red and very showy, whereas this specimen's fruits are always dull brown. Note the bald eagle perched on the Douglas fir snag in the distance.

Jun 20, 2009: Elaeocarpus hainanensis (tentative)

Elaeocarpus hainanensis

Today's photo and entry once again come from the camera and pen of Douglas Justice.

As a person fascinated with plants of all kinds—though admittedly, I'm more familiar with temperate plants—I couldn't help but be impressed with the range of tropical and subtropical plants at the South China Botanical Garden, where I attended the Second International Magnolia Symposium this past May. I should confess, too, that woody plants, especially trees, are my great passion. Leaving magnolias aside, one of the most beautiful groups I saw in the garden was the Elaeocarpus collection. The tree pictured is about 5 m tall and about as wide. Each and every branch was festooned with sweetly scented cream and white flowers. The overall effect of the fringed blooms against the glossy, deep green leaves was exceptionally beautiful. In all, I saw some five distinct species, though there were probably many more in the collection.

The name hainanensis indicates that this species is found on Hainan Island, off the south coast of China (it also occurs on the adjacent mainland and in Indochina). Although unlabeled, the species resembled other trees of E. hainanensis, so this is the name I've provisionally given to it; as there are about 350 species in the genus, however, I'm just as likely to be wrong about the identification. I strongly suspect that many species are grown as ornamentals because of their clean, evergreen foliage and their great beauty when in flower.

Apr 16, 2009: Adesmia longipes

Thank you to Douglas Justice for today's write-up. Douglas writes:

Thanks to Alan Tracey for these photographs from his recent trip to Chile.

Adesmia is a genus of about 230 herbaceous and shrubby species native to the montane and alpine regions of South America. They have pinnately compound leaves, legumes covered with shaggy red hairs and classic papilionaceous flowers.

The classic pea flower is composed of a broad, upright "banner" or "standard" petal, two side, "wing" petals and two lower petals partially fused together to form a "keel". The keel encloses the stamens, which normally form a tube for part of their length (they are free in Adesmia) and surround the ovary and lower part of the style. The five petals are inserted inside the cup-shaped base of the calyx. Pollinators (probably bees in this case) are attracted to the nectar that forms in the cup at the base of the petals. To reach the nectar, they must stand on the keel, which deflects and splits open under the insect's weight (but only when the anthers are ripe), tripping the stamens to fly up and deposit pollen on the insect's body. Once the mechanism is tripped, the style, which is bundled with the stamens, is also forced into position to be brushed by foraging insects. However, peas are protandrous (proto = first + andro = male) and the female parts do not become receptive until after pollen is shed. Protandry, which is typical of bee-pollinated flowers, helps prevent self-pollination. Pollination takes place once the stigma (the pollen receptive surface at the tip of the style) is ripe, presuming the visiting insect is arriving already dusted with pollen from another flower.

Adesmia longipes grows to about 10 cm tall in mid- to upper-montane areas of south central Chile (and is also found in Argentina). Plants are herbaceous and winter deciduous. The name Adesmia (a = without + desmos = a bond) refers to the stamens, which are not fused, as is the normal condition in this subfamily (Faboideae) and the specific epithet longipes means "long-stalked" (presumably in reference to the flower stems). The common name, pasto de guanaco, means "fodder of the guanaco". The guanaco is a small llama relative native to the Altiplano of South America.

Apr 14, 2008: Callitropsis macrocarpa

Thanks to Douglas Justice for writing today's entry. The photographs are from my recent trip to California. Douglas writes:

Up until 2006 and the publication of a paper by D. P. Little, the genus Cupressus L. was thought to be a northern Hemishere genus distributed roughly evenly (in numbers of species) between the Old and New Worlds. However, the New World cypresses (including Cupressus nootkatensis and the northern Vietnamese Cupressus vietnamensis) are now believed to be more closely related to the genus Juniperus than to the Old Word cypresses. You can read more about this change and the possibility of further name changes here.

Whatever name is applied to this species, it is a beautiful and iconic tree, forming huge, densely layered crowns with often picturesque twisted stems and braided bark. In the wild, it is known only from the Monterey Penninsula on the central California coast (see Cupressus macrocarpa on Wikipedia), but it is now very widely grown in horticulture. In gardens, it is primarily valued for its dark, dense foliage and fast growth for screens and windbreaks, but there are numerous mutant forms with a variety of branching and foliage effects (weeping, fastigiate, golden, etc.) and these appear to be extremely popular as specimen and accent plants. Despite the name, the cones of Callitropsis macrocarpa are not the largest of the cypresses. They are somewhat smaller than those of Callitropsis guadelupensis, a species from the island of Guadelupe, off the coast of Baja Cailfornia (and also smaller than those of the Italian cypress, Cupressus sempervirens). See a cone size comparison via Michael P. Frankis's wonderful cone collection.

Callitropsis macrocarpa grows well where winters are mild and there is plenty of humidity, tolerating wind and salt well, but the species doesn't fare well at all in areas with both high summer heat and humidity. Monterey cypress is the parent of the formidable Callitropsis × leylandii (C. nootkatensis × C. macrocarpa) (syn: ×Cupressocyparis leylandii), Leyland cypress, to which it lends considerable influence (most would be hard-pressed to guess the other parent from the appearance of this hybrid). Locally, both the species and its hybrids are susceptible to cypress tip moth (Argyresthia cupressella) and to cypress canker (Seiridium cardinale), but only where summers are hot (see this Australian fact sheet on cypress canker).

Jun 20, 2007: Ulva intestinalis

Today's photographs and write-up are courtesy of Douglas Justice, UBC Botanical Garden's Curator of Collections. This is the second in a series of at least four BPotD entries on algae.

Ulva intestinalis is pictured here attached to smooth basaltic rock in brackish water on MacKenzie Beach, just north of Pacific Rim National Park. This species is a common feature of tidepools around the world, where it is known variously as sea hair or (more appropriately) gut weed. An annual species, local beaches are littered with their bleached, dried-up stems as temperatures fall in the autumn.

Daniel adds: Note that many references will have this algae under the name Enteromorpha intestinalis (L.) Nees, e.g., DeCew's Guide. For a long time, Enteromorpha was considered a distinct genus from Ulva, based mainly on its tubular growth form. The two genera have now been merged; see Hayden et al. 2003. Linnaeus was right all along: Ulva and Enteromorpha are not distinct genera. (PDF) European Journal of Phycology. 38: 277-294.


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