Dunya News: As lockdown lifts, Barcelona plants enjoy a day at the opera. “The lights dim, the curtain rises and the music begins — all signs normal life has returned to Barcelona’s Liceu opera house, were the seats not filled with some 2,300 plants. After months of silence, the emblematic opera house located in central Barcelona decided to throw open its doors with a unique performance — a metaphor for the months of lockdown when nature took back space from people.”
Leiden University: New database reveals plants’ secret relationships with fungi. “Almost all vascular plants have a relationship with a fungus in their roots that allow them to obtain nutrients from the soil. This relationship, called mycorrhiza, is symbiotic, since the fungi too benefit from it. It is so important that most plant species would not be able survive without it. Until now, information on this symbiotic relationship has been scattered throughout myriad scientific publications.”
Commonwealth Journal: New Tool For Identifying Pests of Woody Plants. “The University of Kentucky Department of Entomology has created a new, interactive website to help concerned tree owners identify their insect problems. The ‘Guide to Insect Pests of Woody Plants’ will hopefully be of use to you if you have the pest in hand or if you just have the damage they left behind.”
Wired: The Princess, the Plantfluencers, and the Pink Congo Scam. “Online, plant fraud doesn’t even require getting your hands dirty. Sellers on sites like eBay and Amazon have listed ‘rare’ plants, like the blue Venus flytrap or the strawflower cactus, which do not exist in nature. (The Venus flytrap gets its blue coloring from Photoshop; the cactus’ Xerochrysum flower is not actually in bloom, but affixed with hot glue.) Others, who offer bargain prices for the seeds of rare and difficult plants, have been reported to take the money and send birdseed instead. And then there are sellers who invent their own kinds of magnificent plants, like the pink congo.”
Nursery Management: New free Horticulture Careers Internship Search Tool connects students to practical job experience. “On Jan. 30, Seed Your Future announced the launch of its new free online Horticulture Careers Internship Search Tool to help students find internships across the broad diversity of the horticulture profession. This is the newest resource from Seed Your Future, a coalition of more than 200 partners — including horticulture companies, gardening organizations, schools, colleges, universities, public gardens, youth organizations, nonprofit organizations and individual advocates — united in their mission to promote horticulture and careers working with plants.”
University of Washington: Better wildfire and smoke predictions with new vegetation database. “Researchers from the University of Washington and Michigan Technological University have created the first comprehensive database of all the wildfire fuels that have been measured across North America. Called the North American Wildland Fuel Database, the tool incorporates the best available measurements of vegetation in specific locations, and allows fire managers to see where information about fuels is missing altogether.”
Mongabay: New assessment method finds close to one-third of tropical Africa’s plants are potentially facing extinction . “New research finds that nearly one-third — 31.7 percent — of tropical Africa’s vascular plant species might be at risk of going extinct. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the go-to resource for conservation status assessments, but while the majority of vertebrate species have been assessed, we know far less about the conservation status of plants, especially in the tropics.”
Computing: Kew Gardens plans to digitise and release Darwin’s data . “Kew Gardens is planning to implement an integrated collections management system to unify its disparate databases and make their data available to the world. Whilst most think of the sculpted gardens when they think of Kew, and as a plot of land which is home to over 30,000 trees that’s unsurprising, most are unaware that it’s also a centre of scientific research, and home to the world’s most extensive botanic collections.”
CBC: Research, photos of Manitoba tundra open to public. “An archive of photos and research of plants and animals in Manitoba’s tundra are now available online, providing public access to decades of Churchill, Man., history. Professors from York University in Toronto are in the town 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg this week to share the Churchill Community of Knowledge — a digital archive that more than 50 York University students have been putting together since 2011.”
Phys .org: Scientists use machine-learning algorithms to help automate plant studies. “Father of genetics Gregor Mendel spent years tediously observing and measuring pea plant traits by hand in the 1800s to uncover the basics of genetic inheritance. Today, botanists can track the traits, or phenotypes, of hundreds or thousands of plants much more quickly, with automated camera systems. Now, Salk researchers have helped speed up plant phenotyping even more, with machine-learning algorithms that teach a computer system to analyze three-dimensional shapes of the branches and leaves of a plant.”
California State University Long Beach: University’s Plant Collection Now Part Of National Database. “Up until recently, [Dr. Amanda] Fisher has had to rely largely on Cal State Long Beach’s collection of 18,00 physical specimens to conduct her research, dried local plants pressed onto 13×18 sheets on low-acid paper. If she wanted to view others from outside the Long Beach area, she would have to navigate the freeways. Today, however, with a few clicks of her computer mouse, Fisher, a professor in the biological sciences department, can study hundreds of thousands of digitized specimens from around the country online from a data base that now includes those collected by Cal State Long Beach researchers and students.”
Xinhua: China launches online database on camellia varieties. “The database has more than 45,000 names and 33,000 pictures of camellia varieties including ornamental, tea and oil species. Users can search the name of camellia varieties in different languages including English, Chinese and Japanese.” Unfortunately the story does not have a link to the database, which is here: http://camellia.iflora.cn/ .
Quartz: Pl@ntNet is the world’s best social network . “Pl@ntNet (pronounced plant-net) is the only social app that always makes me happier. Likened to Shazam for plants, it was developed a decade ago by a consortium of computer science and botanical research institutions in France. In almost every way, Pl@ntNet is unlike other social networks.”
House Beautiful: Chelsea Flower Show 2019: RHS and Google launch new online exhibition. “You may not have managed to get your hands on a ticket to the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, but Google’s digital exhibition gives everyone the chance to learn about its history. Showcasing a unique collection of paintings, illustrations, images and original posters, the exhibit delves deep into the changing face of the world’s greatest flower show, starting at the very beginning.”
The Island Connection: Town Of Kiawah Island Releases Grow Native Plant Database. “The database was designed to help promote the use of native plants on the island and serve as a resource for residents, landscapers, landscape architects, landscape designers, and other entities. This searchable database includes native trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, ferns, and grasses and allows users to filter and find plants based on a variety of criteria, including plant type, size, light requirements, soil requirements, flower color, salt tolerance, deer resistance, and more. There are currently 196 plants in the database, but the list will be expanded over time.” I know this is just for one city, but what an unbelievable project and great way to get residents to assist in addressing ecosystem conservation and development.