Floral notes: mid-December 2011.

Bow down for the new plant species from Brazil

A handyman and an amateur botanist in Brazil have teamed up, via the Internet, with numerous scientists and taxonomy experts across the globe to identify a “new-to-us” species of plant, Spigelia genuflexa.  This tiny, tough member of the strychnine family (yes, THAT strychnine) is one of only a few types of plants that exhibit geocarpy – that is, after the plants have fruited and seeds have formed, the branches holding the seeds will actually bend down and gently deposit their own seeds on the ground, even burying them with moss or other plant debris nearby.  (Peanuts are probably the most well-known geocarpic plants).  Check out photos and information about Spigelia genuflexa at  UBC’s Botany Photo of the Day.

Another nasty weed makes Alberta home sweet home

Not a new species by any stretch, but recently found in Alberta, in the Hinton area, is the invasive plant tall hawkweed (Hieracium piloselloides).  It’s a close relative of meadow hawkweed, a prohibited noxious plant according to the Alberta Weed Control Act, and while tall hawkweed isn’t yet on the list of baddies, efforts will be made to keep it from spreading within the province.  (It has already taken hold in British Columbia and the state of Montana).  Read more about tall hawkweed and view the plant in the provincial government’s November 28th issue of Agri-News.

Bumblebees are great at playing hide-and-seek

A really, really rare bumblebee species – so rare that everyone thought it was extinct – has been found again in New Mexico, the same area where the species was first identified 98 years ago.  No one has seen a Cockerell bumblebee since 1956, but all of a sudden, three of them have turned up.  Cockerell bumblebees apparently have the smallest range of habitat of all the bumblebees in the world – only 330 square miles – so where they’ve been hanging out for 55 years is a big mystery.  Read the article here.


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