A warm welcome today to readers of one of Canada’s national daily newspapers, the National Post. For those who don’t have access to the newspaper, you can read today’s article (minus the photographs) about Botany Photo of the Day here: “In Science, Beauty. In Beauty, Science” (link no longer works, removed February 2018).
For those investigating the site after reading the paper, I’ll add links to the rest of the BPotD entries featured in the full-page article after seeing the paper copy, but here are a few for now: Linnaea borealis, Vitis vinifera ‘Cabernet Franc’ and Gladiolus flanaganii. You might also like to read the first BPotD entry Melliodendron xylocarpum, read a bit more about Botany Photo of the Day, check out the main page of the UBC Botanical Garden site, or ask a question on the garden’s discussion forums.
Today’s plant is yet another award-winner for gardeners, ‘Profusion’ beautyberry (RHS Award of Garden Merit and a Great Plant Pick). For a gardening perspective on the plant, check out Paghat’s article on beautyberry. Paghat mentions that the berries are not highly preferred by birds, which I agree is true for most years. However, in observing two different plantings of beautyberry at UBC in the past month, I’ve noted an atypical decrease in the number of fruit on the plants (atypical in the fact that it is so early). Attributable to birds? Perhaps–I was joined by a spotted towhee feeding on the fruit while taking photographs of this plant yesterday, which was a bit odd considering the amount of its typically preferred food available.
The genus Callicarpa is distributed in Central America, the southeastern United States, tropical and subtropical Asia and northern Australia. The beautyberry found in the southeastern US, Callicarpa americana, is a candidate plant for UBC Botanical Garden‘s new Carolinian Forest garden. Many of the plants planned for the Carolinian Forest have relatives in the flora of southeast Asia, a biogeographical pattern observed in roughly sixty-five different genera of plants that has long been recognized and studied. Indeed, this pattern is one of the research and educational rationales for the Carolinian Forest, particularly for the UBC biologists examining the evolutionary relationships between these plants. If you have institutional or library access to scientific journal articles, a good introduction to the subject is Wen, J. 1999. Evolution of Eastern Asian and Eastern North American Disjunct Distributions in Flowering Plants. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 30:421-455.
Conservation / philosophy resource link: Two resources on Dr. E.O. Wilson, noted biologist and author, both touching on the idea of reuniting science and the humanities: the first is a filmed lecture, “Synergism Between Science and the Humanities“, and the second is an interview in Salon, “Living in Shimmering Disequilibrium“.