Archive for the ‘Plant Biology’ category

Japanese Knotweed Male and Female Plants

September 9, 2013

by Steve Young

Today I accompanied Dr. Carl George from Union College into the field to look at the differences between male and female plants of Japanese knotweed, Fallopia japonica. Our first stop was an area in Glenville with multiple clones of the plants, one of them female and the others male.  What are the distinguishing characters?  Male plants have erect inflorescences with bright white flowers and bigger leaves. These characters can be seen driving by in a car. The female plants are usually smaller with erect and drooping flower branches which are not as bright, probably due to the winged tepals and darker ovaries not present in the male plants. The male plants have flowers with five white petals that are spreading outward. They have long white stamens that are longer than the petals and we did not see any pollen in the open anthers.  At the base of the flowers are tiny ovaries.  The female plants have large ovaries topped by a three-parted stigma and small staminodes at the base.  The five tepals are open when flowering starts and eventually three of them form large wings around the fruit.  The remaining two tepals remain small in size, become erect and, hidden by the wings, they enclose the fruit.  Today we saw four different populations of male plants, some of them large, but most of the plants we saw in the area were female.  This is a good time of year to distinguish the two sexes so take time to look at the clones in your area and see if you can distinguish them.

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Here you can see the male plants on the right and the female plants on the left of a clone of sumac.

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Notice the large size of the male clone with the erect bright white flowers.  Carl George examines the flowers.

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The male plants also had larger leaves than the female plants.

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Notice how the female inflorescences also have drooping branches.

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Here are young female flowers with five tepals about the same size and older flowers with three of the sepals developed into the wings that surround the fruit.

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Here are the upright male flowers with the long stamens sticking out.

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The hollow stems have a groove above the branches and they arise in a spiral fashion up the stem.

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A large male clone can be seen along a road in Pattersonville.  The erect inflorescences are easily recognized. Even though they are swarming with honey bees, Dr. George found there is no pollen reward and their pollen sacs are empty.

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Here is another male plant in downtown Albany not far from a stand of female plants.

Fallopia japonica Edwards east male (1)

The male plants are still easily distinguished in late September after the flowers fall because the upright branches remain while the female plants are still laden with white female flowers and fruits.

Video: Learn About the North American Orchid Conservation Center

December 10, 2012

The video is four minutes long.  Great things on the horizon to protect our native orchids.

 

New Phenology Apps Help Track Bloom Times and Global Warming

April 9, 2012

One way to track the change in climate is to record bloom times of plants over the years.  There are three Smartphone apps that allow you to do this.  One is called PhenoMap and it allows users to collect data using Flickr accounts.  Another is called Natures Notebook and it allows users to record plant and animal life cycle events like migrations and plant phenology.  You first have to register with the National Phenology Network. It is also available for Android phones. The third one is called Project BudBurst for Android (iPhone coming soon they say) and it also includes a game called Floracaching which is like geocaching but with plants! I would be interested if anyone plays this game and how it turns out. – Steve Young

A screenshot from the Floracaching website.

Learn New York’s Trees, Shrubs, and Vines at Landis Arboretum’s New Native Plant Collection

March 23, 2012

Landis Arboretum, high on a hilltop above the Village of Esperance in Schoharie County, is the best place to see New York’s native trees, shrubs, and vines thanks to the hard work of Ed Miller, volunteer curator of the native plant collection.  At last count, Ed had planted well over 200 species, omitting noxious, alpine, and rare and endangered plants as well as many from the coastal plain that wouldn’t grow well there. Even so, there are species like tupelo, red bud, cucumber magnolia, and persimmon that seem to be doing well and the warming climate doesn’t hurt either. Some northern species like bog birch and balsam popular are doing well too.  Not all species thrive the first time and some have had to be replanted like the sweet birches and witch hobble.

The garden's Willow Pond Trail leads to Ed's Native Plant Collection. This visit took place in early December 2011.

Following a lead from Kew Gardens in England, they planted each species with its family members.  This makes it possible for serious students to easily compare the details of closely related plants. For instance, all 12 species of native oaks are in one area, all six species of maple in another, and all five birches in still another. Other families are similarly grouped.

This area is where all the members of the sumac family can be found.

Since not all plants of the same family like the same conditions, there are areas that feature plants that like the same habitat, like sun, shade and wetlands. Many of the planting areas have mailboxes that contain a laminated map showing where each species is planted.  The other side of the map tells something about the family or the local habitat.

Ed pulls a map from one of the discovery mailboxes in the open sunny habitat.

One of the most popular sites along the the native plant trail is the Bog Garden. It provides a home for trees and shrubs of northern acid bogs and its log structure can be seen from the Landis barn as you approach from the main entrance.  Its a great chance to see these plants up close from a habitat that is often difficult to access.

From the barn, head east to the wooden bog garden. You may find Ed there to greet you!

Now is a great time to visit the garden to see the early flowers of many of the woodies, especially the overlooked wind-pollinated trees. The native plant trail is an excellent teaching tool and an invaluable resource for learning the woody plants of New York. Come visit soon!

In this area you will find the native dogwoods grouped together.

Another good time to visit will be the spring book and plant sale on May 19th, 10am to 4pm.  See their website calendar for details.

Botanists Becoming Endangered Species

March 2, 2012

An alarming trend has been identified in natural areas management—and it has nothing to do with climate change! However, it does involve the potential loss of a ‘keystone species’ in the natural areas field: the botanist.”  Natural Areas News 2012

A recent study and report by the Natural Areas Association identifies the plight of botany in the U.S. – some which we know all too well. A New York botanist recently said, “Frankly, it’s probably already too late, as we’ve lost the key generation that should have carried real botanical knowledge across the gap to the present.” Let’s hope not.

There is also a list of recommendations. For the report CLICK HERE.

Botanist John Wiley surveys for endangered plants along Seneca Lake. Are botanists endangered too?

NYFA Board Member Chris Martine Talks About Plant Reproduction

October 6, 2011

Public radio station WAMC in Albany featured Dr. Chris Martine on their Academic Minute show this morning.  Chris talked about the different ways plants reproduce.  To hear the feature CLICK HERE.


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