Garden News and Notes: December 2019

Current Events

World Flora Online

In November, the Garden hosted the 12th Council meeting of the World Flora Online project. World Flora Online is a Web-based public resource that, upon completion, will catalogue and describe every plant species on Earth. It was launched at the Missouri Botanical Garden in 2012 with the aim of having a comprehensive Flora of the World online by the end of 2020.

Attendees of the 12th Council meeting came from across the world to gather and discuss the World Flora Online project. Photo by Kristina Schall DeYong.

Now, more than 40 of the world’s leading botanical institutions are partnering in this effort. Representatives from our partner institutions from across the globe came to the Garden to review progress on this global plant database and to prepare the next steps in our 2020 plans. Thus far, there are already 1.3 million plant names recorded in the database. World Flora Online will be an invaluable tool for plant scientists, policy makers and to guide plant conservation efforts.

St. Louis Red

Currently featured at the Gardenland Express train and flower show, the St. Louis Red poinsettia was popularized by Louis Bourdet of St. Louis in the early 20th century. The tall, reedy St. Louis Red was a favorite for some time before fading from the spotlight in favor of smaller, bushier varieties, at which point it became much more difficult to find.

The St. Louis Red poinsettia naturally grows taller than the bushier varieties most commonly seen in Christmas decor. The poinsettia featured at Gardenland Express is expected to reach 10 feet by the time the show closes. Photo by Kristina Schall DeYong.

When these poinsettias go dormant, they lose all their leaves and appear to be nothing more than a dead stick. Three years ago, Garden Horticulturist Josh Higgins received such a dormant stick from California. After three years of care in his hands, it’s ready for its debut at Gardenland Express. Currently standing about six feet tall, the plant is expected to reach 10 feet by the end of the show.

Hear more from Josh in this segment from KMOV.

Wintertime Conservation Work Begins at Shaw Nature Reserve

November was Honeysuckle Sweep Month, which saw community-wide efforts to remove the invasive plant from the landscape. At Shaw Nature Reserve, 25 volunteers from the Young Friends group joined Shaw conservationists Mike Saxton and Quinn Long for a volunteer workday, completely clearing nearly an acre of honeysuckle in just three hours. This was the second year that this volunteer opportunity was held for the Young Friends.

Prescribed burns are another crucial part of the conservation work done at Shaw. In their natural state, the prairies, glades, and forests that make up the Reserve would have experienced fires, and plants that are native to the area rebound from these fires and thrive in their aftermath. Most invasive plants, however, are not adapted to these conditions, so prescribed burns can be an effective way to simultaneously encourage native plant growth and discourage invasive species from overtaking the landscape. To learn more about prescribed burns, check out this video.

Staff at Shaw Nature Reserve performs a prescribed burn. Photos by Matilda Adams.

Researcher Charlotte Taylor Speaks at Colombian Botanical Congress

Garden Researcher Charlotte Taylor was invited to give a keynote address at the Tenth Colombian Botanical Congress in Lorencia, Caquetá, Colombia, where she spoke on the Rubiaceae family in the Flora of Colombia and the genus Psychotria in the Neotropics.

She was inducted as a Corresponding Member of the Colombian Botanical Association, an honor that is reserved for Colombian botanists except in rare instances. She also received an award from the Congress for her contributions to botanical research in the Neotropics and taught a three-day course at Macagual Field Station of the University of the Amazon during her stay.

EarthWays Center’s Richard Reilly Chosen for Two Regional Community Engagement Programs

Richard Reilly of the Garden’s EarthWays Center was accepted into the Regional Arts Comission’s Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute, an esteemed arts program with a focus on connecting working artists with social workers, educators, activists, and policy-makers with the goal of creating relevant, impactful arts programs with the power to effect positive change in the community.

He was also appointed to The Creating Whole Communities (CWC) Advisory Leadership Team, which aims to bring together the University of Missouri–St. Louis, University of Missouri Extension, and St. Louis neighborhoods to grow the relationships between these communities.

Garden Researcher Tariq Stevart Authors Study on African Plants

A new study coauthored by Garden Researcher Tariq Sevart suggests that one-third of all tropical African plant species are at risk for extinction. The study uses a new, faster approach to flag plants as potentially endangered so that experts know which regions are in the most desperate need of an official Red List classification. This is a crucial first step in conserving these high-risk plants. You can read more about the study here.

Linnean House Windows Under Renovation

Linnean House window under construction. Photo by Kristina Schall DeYong.

If you’ve visited the Garden recently, you may have noticed boarding on the Linnean House windows. The windows are being repaired and will eventually all be renovated during Phase I of the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center construction, scheduled to begin in January 2020.

Kristina Schall DeYong––Digital Media Specialist

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