Although many labs in CPC’s Participating Institutions are currently idle, the researchers are certainly not. Researchers are digging deeper into the literature, formulating new projects and experiments, and getting creative in their stay-at-home tasks. Our collective passion for plants is undaunted. Our work to conserve them continues.
Amidst these times of great human suffering, it is important to remember rays of light that can outshine the darkness. Our Conservation Champion Jennifer Ceska is such a radiant being. She customarily calls colleagues “beloveds.” When she wraps her big smile and warm heart around a crowd, it will follow her anywhere. Her nurturing attention has helped the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance thrive over many years and even during a pandemic. We wish we could clone her!
COVID-19 has changed the logistics of plant conservation work for many CPC institutions – some more than others. Rare plants are found in their habitats – decidedly outside of home offices. Plants’ homes must be visited to monitor populations, collect seed, conduct management activities, and more. Learn how some of our PIs are adapting in their field work.
We of the “Plant Tribe” know that plant conservation requires long-term commitments. We commit to our conservation work while ensuring kindness for ourselves, our loved ones, our colleagues, and our community. We do this so that our children and great grandchildren may inherent a healthy and sane planet. Read about this commitment in our latest issue of Save Plants.
Some people just can’t help it, they are natural born leaders. In a group where a job has been laid out, they are the ones who cut to the chase, volunteer, and do an excellent job no matter the task. Such was the situation when the CPC network decided to write Plant Reintroduction in a Changing Climate: Perils and Promises. Dr. Kristin Haskins leapt at the chance to co-edit the volume, ensuring that we did not forget to include a chapter about the importance of mycorrhizae for establishing healthy plant populations.
A gifted artist and well-rounded scientist, Dr. Eula Whitehouse was an incredibly accomplished botanist. And she achieved this distinction in an era when her advanced education (earning her Ph.D. in 1938) made her exceedingly rare among women. Though a well-rounded botanist, her fields of research were also unusual: cryptograms, a non-taxonomic term encompassing mosses, ferns, fungi, lichens, and algae, which all reproduce cryptically by spores.
The link between plants and fungi is widely recognized now at the Denver Botanic Gardens and beyond. Mycological and botanical research mirror each other and both will be moving into a new facility soon. The new Freyer-Newman Center at the Gardens will highlight these natural history collections as part of the institution’s effort to promote science, art, and education.
Imagine if most native plants had vanished or become rare a century ago. Native plants are central to how humans perceive the natural world and appreciate its value and beauty. Because native plants are so important to us, losses can be difficult to conceptualize.
This month’s Save Plants pays tribute to life forms that are critical living partners of endangered plants that are often unseen, but directly or indirectly support healthy plants and a healthy planet. From diverse lichens that are soil creators and sensitive indicators of environmental change to soil crusts that allow plants to survive harsh droughts, we take a moment to appreciate the small entities that play a large role in our world.
Two hundred years ago, the limestone bluffs and ravines of the Apalachicola River in Georgia and the Florida panhandle were dotted with impressive 30- to 60-foot tall Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia). The yew-like trees were abundant enough to support harvest, with the light but durable yellow wood transformed into fence posts, shingles, planks, and more. Then came the fungal infection. Florida torreya is now North America’s most endangered conifer, with over 98% of the population lost.
Ferns abound on the Island of Enchantment – Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory is home to many species of ferns, including 22 endemic species found nowhere else. While stunning tree ferns may capture the attention of island visitors who venture away from the beaches and into the forest, rare endemics are the prize that botanists from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden have been seeking.
In Guam, the invasive insect pest Cycad Aulacaspis Scale, which arrived via horticultural imports, has caused devastating impact on the Micronesian cyad (Cycas micronesica). Learn how the impressive conservation efforts of Montgomery Botanic Center, a CPC Network Partner, served as an important safeguard against the species’ extinction.
The Isle of Enchantment has many treasures. Among them is our Conservation Champion for April 2020, Omar Monsegur-Rivera, a man who watches out for the diverse and numerous endangered flowering and non-flowering plants of Puerto Rico. Through his actions, some of the rarest ferns in Puerto Rico are thriving in cultivation at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
The important research and conservation actions featured this month focus on plants that do not produce flowers. No less beautiful, no less interesting, these plants have benefited from long-term dedication and study by our Participating Institutions. We are pleased to showcase this exceptional work and the people who make it happen.
Not long ago, running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum) was thought by many to be extinct. Yet, this past fall, it joined a select few species considered recovered enough for delisting from the Endangered Species Act. This noteworthy event is a result of the extensive work that has gone into recovery efforts at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW).
While dangling from ropes on a cliffside in Kaua’i in 1991, Research Biologist Ken Wood made an exciting discovery – a previously undescribed species of hau kuahiwi, or mountain hibiscus (Hibiscadelphus), a rare genus found only in Hawai’i. A recent drone program instituted by NTBG showed the importance of this technology in rare plant surveying when a drone flight caught the first glimpse of this species in nearly a decade.
Wes Knapp is leading an important effort to assess plant extinction in North America north of Mexico. Taking up this cause of understanding extinction has opened his eyes to the extent of our knowledge, and sometimes our lack of knowledge, about rare plants.