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.
Many Fort Worth and area residents have explored the Garden for years. They may think they know every corner, every path and every tree. In fact, our own Garden holds many surprises. For example, a new species of gall wasp was recently identified on Garden grounds. The story of the wasp’s discovery has much to tell us about the importance of citizen science, the diversity of life around us and the many mysteries waiting to be uncovered in our own backyards.
Publication is an essential step in the scientific process. Discoveries are considered unofficial until they have been reviewed by fellow scientists and published in journals. Through publication, scientists learn about new findings and debate new ideas. This year, BRIT Press celebrates the 60th anniversary of fulfilling this critical role in botany.
Forbes magazine recently featured the work of FWBG | BRIT Research Botanist Alejandra Vasco documenting the fern species of her native Colombia, highlighting the work of our scientists to understand and conserve threatened plants.
It’s one thing to identify a flower when it’s in bloom. Petals, stamens and other features provide all sorts of information to botanists to narrow down the plant’s name and history. Starting with a seed pod is a different matter – especially when the pod is hard, dried, and an indistinct brown. When friends Carol and Cynthia both found particularly tough, dried pods that superficially resemble pine cones, they were baffled. But it takes more than a dried-up pod to baffle the botanists at the BRIT Herbarium. They were able to let Cynthia and Carol know that they had found the dried fruits of Oenothera triloba, or stemless evening primrose.
April is National Native Plant month and a great opportunity to talk about the importance of native plants to the health of our planet. Native plants help preserve local wildlife, reduce water use and protect and restore soil, but these plants are threatened by invasive species, habitat loss and water quality issues. What is FWBG | BRIT doing to protect these plants? And how can you help?
If you’ve ever taken a high school biology course, you may have learned that pollinators such as butterflies and bees evolved alongside flowers for their mutual benefit. The result of generations upon generations of plants and pollinators evolving side by side are what botanists have called “pollination syndromes.” These are fascinating systems that have much to teach us about the natural world—but recent research reveals they may not be as simple as botanists once thought.
People of all ages watch the brilliantly colored insects with awe and wonder at Butterflies in the Garden. What many don’t realize is that while we value butterflies for their beauty, they also play an important role in the ecosystem. Along with bees, birds and various other insects, they help flowering plants reproduce.
Botanists and horticulturists love a challenge. That’s why this year we’re introducing a new feature in the newsletter: What Is This Thing? This month, Martha L. of Fort Worth asks us to identify a plant with small flowers than never open. The answer tells a fascinating story about the reproductive strategies of plants–and why some prefer closed to open marriages.
Many plants play an important role in holiday celebrations, from evergreen trees to poinsettias, but mistletoe is unique in many ways. It is not only a major player in multiple Western mythologies but also a fascinating example of hemi-parasitism. Not sure what that means? Read on for the details.