The New York Botanical Garden is a museum of plants, an educational institution, and a scientific research organization. Founded in 1891 & now a National Historic Landmark, it is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. http://www.nybg.org/
The leaves are mostly off the trees these days, which means they’re gathering on the grass, amongst the trees, or in the Bronx River. The absence of leaves gives the opportunity to enjoy the architecture of the Garden; to marvel at enormous trees and tiny seed pods. Increased leaf litter makes it easier to spot the birds and animals that make their homes in the Garden.
Plants can be albino too! This is an albino redwood tree, with white needles instead of green because it’s unable to produce chlorophyll. In order to survive, albino redwoods must join their roots to those of a normal redwood to obtain nutrients. Found in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park in the US, there are only around 20 known albino redwoods in the world, and their exact whereabouts have been kept secret as protection.
Not to be confused on a mechanical level with the Tumblr-popular ghost plant (Monotropa uniflora), which, while also devoid of chlorophyll and parasitic at the roots (it’s a myco-heterotroph, parasitizing trees’ mycorrhizal fungi), is not the product of albinism. These albino redwoods physically graft their roots to those of other redwoods, which is a species-specific talent and the only reason they survive at all.
Oh, and they may also be the proverbial unicorn of the average conifer farmer come the holidays. I’m sorry you’re so objectified, trees. —MN
When a tree falls into the ocean, does it make a new world? What about when a ship sinks? Or when a telephone pole takes a header into a lake? This one is actually easy to answer: Yes.
Evolution has peopled the earth’s water bodies with a cast of characters that can survive on nothing but terrestrially-grown trees or wood. As the author of this article says, “Congratulations, evolution, you have outdone yourself.” ~AR
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sediment behind milldams in Pennsylvania preserved leaves deposited just before European contact that provide a glimpse of the ancient forests, according to a team of geoscientists, who note that neither the forests nor the streams were what they are today.
"Milldams were built from the late 1600s to the late 1800s in Pennsylvania and other parts of the east," said Peter Wilf, professor of geosciences, Penn State. "We can’t get information from historic records on what the area looked like before the dams because recording of natural history didn’t really begin until the 1730s and was not detailed."
U.S. census shows that by 1840, tens of thousands of milldams existed in the mid-Atlantic region. About 10,000 of these were in Pennsylvania. In Lancaster County, estimates were one dam for every mile of stream. The abundance of dams in the area altered the landscape dramatically, according to the researchers.
"I see a potential modern day benefit for this research," said Sara J. Elliott, recent Penn State master’s degree recipient, currently a research scientist associate at University of Texas Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology. "Attempts to restore precontact environments have been unsuccessful when the effects of milldams were not considered. Understanding the past forest makeup may provide a way to help get a successful and useful reconstruction.”
Three-hundred year old fossils discovered in Pennsylvania are helping expand our understanding of what the forests of the United States looked like before colonization by Europeans. European settlers dramatically reshaped the landscape by clearing forests, damming rivers, and razing topographical features.
This is as true for the five boroughs of New York City as it was for much of the Eastern Seaboard. Our 50-acre Thain Family Forest is a living remnant of the forests that once covered New York City, but it is not an exact replica of those long ago times. Changes in climate, imported diseases and invasive species, and the natural progression of a forest’s life have changed the makeup of this remarkable plot of land. Forests are living, breathing things, so even though we talk about our Forest as a remnant of a long ago time, discoveries like this one help us understand what it really did look like 300 years ago, without all the guesswork. ~AR
Of the five boroughs of New York City, the Bronx is arguably the greenest, with over 7,000 acres of parkland, which means around 25% of the borough’s land is set aside for recreation and relaxation.
And what’s more, 50-acres of that—our own Thain Family Forest—is the largest remaining remnant of the primeval forests which once covered the entirety of New York City before colonization. This un-cut, old growth woodland was once home to the Lenape Indians, and today is home to an assortment of native animals and plants and the scientists who study them.
So, I do hope that our guide to the flora and fauna of the Thain Family Forest has enticed you to come visit us. The easiest way to reach the Garden is by Metro-North Rail Road on the Harlem Line from Grand Central Terminal. It is an approximately 22-minute ride that lets you off at Botanical Garden Station, directly across from our entrance. We’re always happy to answer your questions, so feel free to drop us a line. The Forest is beautiful in all seasons, yes, even in winter! So don’t let cooler temperatures dissuade you. I hope to see you on the trails soon! ~AR
What’s beautiful now? Transitions. It’s a transformative time in the Garden. Fall is slowly making way for winter, as Tuesday’s first flurries attested to. The leaves are coming down, gardens are being put to bed, plants are being hauled inside, the roses are saying their last goodbyes.
Transitions are hard, in any walk of life, so it’s best to look on the bright side. Once the trees are bare and the beds are mulched, it’s time for the holidays! Lights, feasts, family, treats. It’s time to be cozy indoors, and sparkly out.
At the Garden we turn our focus to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and the wonderful miniature world of the Holiday Train Show. It doesn’t mean that the outside world isn’t still wonderful, it is. You just have to work a little harder to see the wonder. Conifers dressed in green, the silhouette of giant trees against the winter sky, these are joys in their own right, but a little more mutedly so.
Money may not grow on trees, but gold does—or at least it accumulates inside of them. Scientists have found that trees growing over deeply buried deposits of gold ore sport leaves with higher-than-normal concentrations of the glittering element. The finding provides an inexpensive, excavation-free way to narrow the search for ore deposits.
Scientists have long had clues that trees and other vegetation pulled gold from the soil and transported it to their leaves, but the evidence wasn’t clear. The gold particles could have stuck to the leaves after being blown there as dust, for example. To bolster the case that the gold came from soil beneath the trees, researchers conducted a series of field studies and lab tests…
images: Mel Lintern/inset: Lintern et al., Nature Communications (2013)
I’m guessing you probably won’t find your fortune trying to mine leaves alone. Though there’s a slight hope that trees—like the eucalyptus here—may prove beneficial for prospectors and the environments they’re exploring. The idea is that these species, with their deep taproots, will tell us where the gold is without having to rip up the landscape with guesswork. We’ll see. —MN
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is only a few miles away from Portland, Oregon - the state’s largest city. Tualatin River is an urban refuge for wildlife and people alike.
Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and community partners, including Portland General Electric, Halstead’s Arboriculture, and Oregon Eagle Foundation, teamed up to save the nest of a resident pair of bald eagles.
This past year marked the first time bald eagles nested in an area visible to refuge visitors. During the 2013 spring and summer nesting season, the pair successfully raised one eaglet to fledgling. The nest was established on top of a dying oak tree in danger of falling over. The Service reached out to the community for help to save the nest.
“The successful stabilization of the nest and tree was accomplished through the hard work of refuge staff and community partners. Huge thanks and appreciation go out to these folks for working to keep this nest available for the eagles to hopefully raise more eaglets at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge,” said Erin Holmes, Refuge Manager.
Portland General Electric provided the equipment, manpower and expertise to stabilize the tree and prevent it from falling over. Oregon Eagle Foundation provided guidance on the design for supporting the eagle nest, and Halstead’s Arboriculture Consultants provided technical knowledge on the best way to stabilize the tree. Volunteers were also an important part of the process, providing community contacts and photographing the process.
“This pair of nesting bald eagles represents an important educational opportunity for visitors to the refuge. Tualatin River NWR hosts over 132,000 visitors annually and the eagles and their nesting activities provide an opportunity for people to observe eagle nesting behavior close-up and connect with wildlife, especially one that symbolizes the recovery of a once-endangered species, as well as the symbol of our nation,” said Kim Strassburg, Refuge Visitor Services Manager.
As migratory waterfowl return to the refuge this fall, so will the eagles. Only a few minutes from Portland, we invite you out to Tualatin River NWR to get to know your wild neighbors, up close.
What’s beautiful now? Trees! It’s fall and the leaves are turning. As you can see, some trees are getting a jump start on the competition. How to keep track of what’s going on in the Bronx without making a weekly pilgrimage (not that we’d stop you of course, remember, Members get in free)? With our new Fall Foliage Tracker of course!
We employ some of the most knowledgeable tree specialists in New York City, and they’re out and about across our 250-acres on a daily basis. And at the end of their day, they report back to us what they’ve seen in terms of fall color. And then we update the tracker. It’s not an exact science, sure, but you show us a scientist that has invented the perfect foliage metering device, and we’ll keep you in NYBG-branded baseball caps for a year!
Photos from the Huron H. Smith Expedition to Oregon
Name of Expedition: Huron H. Smith Expedition to Oregon Participants: Huron H. Smith Expedition Start Date: 1910 Expedition End Date: 1911 Purpose or Aims: Collecting Botany specimens, taking portraits of trees Location: Palmer, Oregon, U.S.A., North America Original material: 5x7 glass negative Digital Identifier: CSB32997
These are such interesting photographs. The thought of lumberjacking these huge old trees without the benefit of chainsaws is very daunting. Does anyone know if that saw in the third photo is demonstrating some kind of assistive technology? ~AR
Slope Point is at the southernmost point of the South Island of New Zealand. The air streams loop the ocean, unobstructed for 2000 miles, until they reach Slope Point causing incredibly strong winds. In fact, the winds are so strong and persistent here that they perpetually warp and twist the trees into these crooked, wind-swept shapes.
Slope Point is generally uninhabited, except for the herds of sheep that graze the land. There are no roads leading here, however backpackers regularly make the short 20-minute walk to see the fascinating tree formations that only Mother Nature could create. However there is no public access during the lambing season from September to November.