TODAY’S HOURS: 8 am – 6 pm

TODAY’S HOURS: 8 am – 6 pm 

Recent Research Publications Reveal the Details of New Plant Species—and Help Uncover the Workings of the Natural World

Perrottetia taronensis grows in a mountainous region of southwestern China and northern Myanmar.

Botany is not a science for those who demand a steady routine. One day researchers might find themselves hiking up mountainsides through dense tropical rain forest or hunting down rare plants in parched deserts. The next day, they will be in the lab, peering through an electron microscope or studying DNA results.

The result of these efforts is usually a scientific paper, published in a peer-reviewed journal. Each article can represent months or years of work. Individual discoveries might describe a new species of plant or suggest a new way of approaching a problem, but taken as a whole, they reveal the workings of life on this planet.

For example, Vice President of Research Peter Fritsch recently co-authored a paper identifying a newly described species of flowering tree that grows in southwestern China and northern Myanmar. Perrottetia taronensis grows up to six meters tall and is found in subtropical evergreen forests and along riverbanks.

This is only one of several new species described by Fritsch in articles this year. He also described a plant named Vaccinium exiguum, a shrub related to blueberries and cranberries that was discovered on the summit of a volcano in the Philippines, and another named Symplocos mohananii that grows in a mountain range on the southwestern tip of India.

20 thin ghostly pale mushrooms with thin stalks and small beige caps grow from a piece of bark
Mycena ulmi , a mushroom recently described by an associate researcher. Photo by Brian Perry.

“Each of these plants has its own history and plays its own role in its ecosystem,” says Fritsch. “We study plants to understand their individual stories, but we’re also putting together puzzle pieces that make up the big picture.”

Other scientists with recent publications include Alejandra Vasco, Harold Keller, Morgan Gostel and Manuela Dal Forno. Vasco contributed to an article this year on distinguishing different spores of a genus of ferns from Mexico. Keller identified a new species of mushroom discovered on a tree growing on the Garden campus. A complete list of research publications by research staff and associates is maintained online.

“I don’t know any scientists who aren’t excited when their journal articles are published,” says Fritsch. “It’s not just seeing your name in print. It’s recognition of your work and confirmation from the scientific community that what you are doing matters.”

Shop the BRIT Press holiday sale for the plant lover in your life. Save up to 50 percent off on select titles. Sale begins on Black Friday.

Related Articles

Newsletter

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage with Your Family during a Full Day of Activities at the Garden

Our four-week festival of Hispanic heritage, ¡Celebramos!, begins Sept. 15, and our calendar is packed with events that range from a Quinceañera community celebration to an outdoor market to an art exhibit of depictions of the plants of Latin America. Families looking to celebrate Hispanic Heritage with their children should highlight Saturday, Oct. 1 on their calendars and plan to attend Día de la Familia. The day is packed with educational programs and performances and culminates with movie night at the Garden.

Read More »
A field of yellow sunflowers
Learn

Making Sense of Sunflowers

The natural world is filled with flowers of all shapes and colors. What’s surprising is that a great many of these flowers are all related. About one quarter of flowering plants are members of the Asteraceae family, which contains more than 32,000 known species of flowering plants. The sheer variety of sunflowers can make the plant a challenge to identify. Yet correctly identifying Asteraceae is important when conducting plant surveys, assessing the ecological health of a habitat, managing land or simply exploring nature. Fortunately, sunflower experts Richard Spellenberg and Naida Zucker can help. Join us for their book talk and workshop on sunflowers and never be confounded by sunflowers again.

Read More »
Multicolored kernels on heritage corn
Newsletter

Ethnobotany and the Study of Plants, Cultures and Communities

Imagine you lived exactly where you live today–but five hundred years ago. If you’re hungry, you can’t go to the grocery store. If you’re tired, you no longer have a foam mattress. If you have a headache, you can’t pop an Advil. Yet the people of the past ate, slept and treated their ailments just as we do. How? They used plants.

Read More »
Yellow tulilps against green foliage
Garden

Plan Now for Bountiful Bulbs Next Spring

A sigh of relief can be heard across North Texas that the heat wave has broken. We know to expect more hot days in September, but with Labor Day behind us, cooler weather is just around the corner. That means it’s time to think about spring! No, we’re not crazy, and yes, we know it’s not yet autumn. But now is the time to plan for a gorgeous spring by planting bulbs.

Read More »
Sunflowers by sign that reads Embrace New Beginnings
Learn

Community Education Fall Preview: Grow Your Mind with New Classes and Workshops

It still feels like the height of summer, but fall is just around the corner, and that means the Community Education program is rolling out a new slate of classes, workshops and events. “We’ve got a mix of long-time favorites and completely new experiences,” says Community Education Manager Crissa Nugen. “I think almost everyone will find something they want to explore.”

Read More »
Water sprinkler on summer day
Garden

Managing Your Garden Through Heat and Drought

Gardeners across North Texas can only look at their landscape and sigh as the heat wave refuses to break and rain refuses to fall. Plants that thrive most summers are withering and dying under the stress of week after week of 100-degree-plus temperatures. Gardeners struggle to balance watering enough to keep their plants alive with responsible behavior during a drought–and the prospect of budget-busting water bills. What to do? “The first step is to not give up,” says Sr. Horticulturist Steve Huddleston. “You do have options.”

Read More »