Archive for the ‘Classes and Workshops’ category

NYFA Bark Workshop A Success

October 29, 2013

On Saturday October 26, Michael Wojtech, author of Bark, a field guide to trees of the Northeast, presented a workshop to help participants identify native trees in Eastern New York based on bark types.  Michael started out with an indoor class on the characteristics and ecology of bark and, using photos, tested us on how we thought bark on young trees would look on older trees.  By knowing the different types of bark – blocky, ropy, vertical strips, smooth, etc. – it was easier to guess how these bark types change over time.  After our classroom lesson, we were excited to get outdoors and walk the trails of the Albany Pine Bush to see the different types in nature.  We spent over an hour looking at oaks, pines, birches, cherries, maples and others and learning the techniques of bark identification to figure out closely related species like cottonwood, aspen and grey birch.  A great time was had by all and we look forward to trying out our new skills with other trees of the area.

We assembled outside the Pine Bush Discovery Center before heading off to the yellow trail.

We assembled outside the Pine Bush Discovery Center on a chilly day before heading off to the yellow trail.

Michael showed us how some bark types, like black cherry, form scales that peel off easily.

Michael showed us how some bark types, like black cherry, form scales that peel off easily.

A cut stump illustrates where the wood transitions to the bark.

A cut stump illustrates how the wood transitions to the bark.

Often, the bark on the lower part of the tree is quite different than the bark higher in the tree.

Often, the bark on the lower part of the tree is quite different than the bark higher in the tree.

A real treat! The bark of a young American chestnut, smooth with small white lenticels.

A real treat! The bark of a young American chestnut, smooth with small white lenticels.

Unfortunately it was not longed for this world as it has already been attacked by the chestnut blight.

Unfortunately it was not longed for this world as it has already been attacked by the chestnut blight.

Amazingly it had produced some fruit that we found along the trail.

Amazingly it had produced some fruit that we found along the trail.

For more information about Michael’s bark book and workshops you can visit his website We thank him for a very interesting and informative workshop. – Steve Young


NY Flora Association Announces Field Trips and Workshops for 2013

February 16, 2013

Click this link to see the lineup of fantastic field trips and workshops for 2013.

There will be workshops for identifying:

Amelanchier (Shadbush), Sedges, Grasses, and Trees using bark characters as well as a workshop on ethnobotanical topics.

Field Trips will explore:

Nelson Swamp (Madison Co.), Bonaparte Swamp and Fitzgerald Pond (Lewis Co.), Michigan Hollow Swamp (Tompkins Co.), Little Rock City (Cattaraugus Co.), Zoar Valley (Erie/Cattaraugus Cos.), Whiteface Mountain (Essex Co.), Edgewood Preserve (Suffolk Co.), and Joralemon Park (Albany Co.)

Most of these require registration so register soon before they fill up.

Happy students at the goldenrod and aster workshop at the Niagara Gorge last year.

Happy students at the goldenrod and aster workshop at the Niagara Gorge in 2011.

Michael Kudish Talks About Mapping First Growth Forests in the Adirondacks

May 3, 2012

Paul Smith’s College Prof. Emeritus Michael Kudish discusses Adirondack first growth forests in this April 2012 lecture on campus. The college’s School of Natural Resource Management and Ecology and the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters sponsored his lecture.  The talk runs 1hr 47 min.


NY Botanical Garden Seminar, May 4: Phenotypic Plasticity and Plant Invasions.

April 30, 2012

“Examining the role of natural selection and phenotypic plasticity in plant invasions: a study of invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and native woodland knotweed (Persicaria virginiana)”

Kelly O’Donnell, PhD., Postdoctoral Fellow
Columbia University

Friday, May 4, 2011
11am-12 noon
Watson 302
Refreshments at 10:45

Kelly O’Donnell

Dissertation Abstract

Determining the role of natural selection in plant invasions

The ecological and evolutionary study of plant invasion processes is of exceeding importance in today’s changing environment. However, few studies have addressed the impact of natural selection on invasive plant species. While scientists have been able to detect selection in natural populations, most studies are not replicated in space or time leading to unreliable statistical estimates and tentative causal analyses. My objective is to further our knowledge of selection dynamics in the wild by working in the area of invasion biology through studies that combine both field and controlled settings. Biological invasions may be thought of as natural evolutionary experiments that scientists can use to study the effects of possibly novel and intense selection pressures on species that are in the process of aggressively expanding their range. It has been suggested that plant invasion affords us the ability to better assess the speed and predictability of local adaptation by natural selection, and that there are at least two mechanisms by which species can become invasive: through rapid local adaptation and/or through augmented phenotypic plasticity. It remains to be seen if either or both of these statements are generally true, as they have been rarely tested in the field. I have conducted a multi-year selection analysis on field populations of invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and a native relative, woodland knotweed (Persicaria virginiana) and found strong, but temporally variable, natural selection. I then assessed the level of local adaptation in Japanese knotweed and compared it to woodland knotweed via a reciprocal transplant experiment. Despite the strong selection pressure (but perhaps because of the variability), there was little evidence of local adaptation in either species. Finally, I examined both species to measure their plasticity for traits relating to light acquisition in a common garden experiment. Both species had plastic trait responses to shade, but they followed different plasticity strategies. Woodland knotweed followed a “jack-of-all-trades” approach; it was able to thrive under either light treatment. Japanese knotweed seemed to use the opportunistic “master-of-some” strategy; its trait plasticity allowed it to take advantage of a better quality environment. Overall, there was no clear distinction between the native and invasive species studied. Both experience strong selection, but do not seem to locally adapt to it. Both possess trait plasticity that allows them to thrive in different light conditions, although the strategy is different.

Northeast Natural History Conference 2012 a Success

April 19, 2012

There were many interesting student and professional talks and posters at this year’s conference. The venue had rooms close together which made switching from one to the other easy, especially since we didn’t have to walk in from the front.The biggest challenge was the PowerPoint clicker ergonomics when speakers hit the forward button when they wanted to hit the laser pointer button.  When will projector companies ever figure that out?

For a list of the oral abstracts from the conference CLICK HERE.

For a list of the poster abstracts CLICK HERE.

NYFA judged the speakers for best poster, best student presentation and best overall presentation.  We will announce them on an upcoming post.  We look forward to 2013! – Steve Young.

The poster session and refreshment table.

Ethnobotany Talk by Dr. Michael Balick, NYBG

March 12, 2012

If you have 90 minutes, take the time to watch this fascinating talk on botanical medicine and indigenous cultures that was presented on Long Island May 6, 2010 by Dr. Michael Balick of the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.

Smithsonian April Symposium – Transforming Biology Using Evolutionary Trees

March 8, 2012

From Dr. Warren Wagner – We are pleased to announce the line-up of speakers for the 2012 Smithsonian Botanical Symposium “Transforming 21st Century Comparative Biology using Evolutionary Trees,” which will be held at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, on April 20-21, 2012.

Over the last 20 years great progress has been made toward assembling a phylogeny of life on Earth and our expanding knowledge of evolutionary relationships is transforming 21st century biology. The Symposium will address the question: How do we put the knowledge of evolutionary relationships to work to better describe and understand the diversification of life on Earth? The invited speakers will cover a wide range of organisms and topics to illuminate how molecular phylogenetics can be used to understand evolutionary and ecological processes.

–    Scott V. Edwards, Harvard University, “Resolving the Tree of Life through phylogenomics and the multispecies coalescent model”
–    Charles F. Delwiche, University of Maryland, “Illuminating the origin of land plants with algal genomes”
–    James W. Horn, Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution, “Diversification and structural innovation in Euphorbia”
–    Karen Osborn, Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian Institution, “Discoveries in the deep and their usefulness for studies of invertebrate evolution”
–    David D. Ackerly, University of California, Berkeley, “Traits, communities, and history: what do we learn from phylogenies?”
–    Richard Ree, The Field Museum, “Phylogeny and the evolution of floral diversity in Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae)”
–    Michael Donoghue, Yale University, “Adventures in plant phylogeny and prospects for the future”

Abstracts, additional details, and online registration are available on the Symposium Web site: The deadline for registration is 13 April 2012.

Winter Botany Workshops Slated at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Columbia County

January 17, 2012
Saturday, February 4th 2012, 1-4pm, Hawthorne Valley Farm (Creekhouse)
Winter Botany Workshop, Part 1 (co-sponsored by the Columbia Land Conservancy)
Conrad and Claudia Vispo will help you learn to identify the most common woody plant species in the winter. We will start with a brief in-door preparatory session and then go outside for some practice in the field.The workshop is free, but space is limited, so please register with or (518) 672-7994.

Saturday, February 18th 2012, 1-4pm, Greenport Public Conservation Area in Hudson
Winter Botany Workshop, Part 2 (co-sponsored by the Columbia Land Conservancy)
Conrad and Claudia Vispo will help you learn to identify the most common woody plant species that can be observed at Greenport in the winter. The workshop is free, but space is limited, so please register with or (518) 672-7994.

University of Florida Tropical Botany Course Offered Again in 2012

January 6, 2012

I took this course back in the early 1980s and it is one of the best courses in plant taxonomy that you can find.  It’s an intensive course but it takes place in one of the most beautiful areas in the country, surrounded by tropical and subtropical vegetation. Dr. Judd does a superb job and the field trips go to some of the most interesting natural areas of southern Florida. – Steve Young

The University of Florida, Department of Botany and The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, in collaboration with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, will offer an intensive, in-residence course/workshop on the systematics of tropical plants, in Coconut Grove, Florida, from June 25 – July 13, 2012.

Instructor:  Dr. Walter S. Judd (Course Director, Department of Biology, 220 Bartram Hall, PO Box 118525, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8525; e-mail:; phone: 352-273-1983; fax: 352-392-3704).

The Course: Tropical Botany is an intensive course of study in the biology and systematics of tropical plants.  Subject matter will be largely based on the extensive holdings of tropical vascular plants at Fairchild Tropical Garden, The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Montgomery Botanical Center   These gardens have the largest living collections of tropical plants in the United States.  Additionally, field trips will be made to the Florida Everglades, the Florida Keys, and adjacent natural areas.  The natural vegetation of South Florida, which includes littoral and dry land habitats, mixed tropical hardwood hammocks, pinelands, and mangrove communities, will introduce students to the diversity of tropical vegetation.  The object of the course is to provide advanced students and/or professionals with a detailed coverage of the systematics, phylogeny, diversity of structure, and economic botany of tropical vascular plants.  Questions concerning the course should be addressed to Dr. Judd.

Credit-hours:  Tropical Botany is taught as a workshop sponsored by The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, with the collaboration of Fairchild Tropical Garden.  If academic credit is desired students may enroll in either BOT 6935 (graduate) or BOT 4935 (advanced undergraduates) and receive 2 (or more) semester credit-hours.  These courses are offered by the Department of Biology, University of Florida, and they can be taken by non-U.F. as well as by U.F. students.  Students may also arrange for academic credit from their home institutions.

Enrollment:  Limited to 12 participants, with preference given to upper-level students or professional biologists/teachers.

Application: Individuals should apply by April 16th, 2012 (to Dr. Judd, see address above).  Applications should include the following: a letter stating reasons for taking the course, a curriculum vita, and a letter of recommendation (sent separately).  Applicants will be notified of acceptance by May 7th, 2012.

Accommodation:  Students will be housed at The Kampong (Tyson dormitory in the Scarborough House), but, if desired, housing is also available at a hotel near Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.  Facilities at The Kampong include 2 dorm-style rooms with bunk beds, shared kitchenette for self-catering, laundry facility and wifi access. Dorm fees are $25 per day payable directly to The Kampong.

Fees/tuition: A course fee of $1550 is required to cover course/workshop costs.  In addition, if U.F. academic credit is desired, tuition costs are $498.09/ credit (in-state, graduate), $188.55/ credit (in state, undergraduate), $1222.81/ credit (out-of-state, graduate), or $931.12 /credit (out-of-state, undergraduate).

Dr. Walter Judd


NYFA Plans Botany Awards for 2012 Natural History Conference

October 28, 2011

The New York Flora Association is pleased to announce the Northeast Natural History Conference 2012 Botany Awards. Awards will be given in three distinct categories: best botany-related poster presentation, best student botany-related oral presentation, and best overall botany-related oral presentation. A prize of $150 will be given to the winner in each category. Presentations will be judged for significance of ideas, creativity, quality of methodology, validity of conclusions drawn from results, and clarity of presentation. For more information, please visit the New York Flora Association website at or the Northeast Natural History website at

A presentation at the 2011 conference