The Expedition Continues, Colombia

Patrick Gibson reviews a book about José Celestino Mutis’s botanical expedition to what is now Colombia, as well as his scientific and artistic legacy. With a volume of Species Plantarum in hand, José Celestino Mutis arrived in Colombia, then the New Kingdom of Granada, in 1760. He started and directed […]

Oaks so far

Grandson Sidney with (clearly) cork oak, Redford Park, December 2023 A place marker post today, with links to all oak species already mentioned in Talking Plants, before or after it transformed into an oak fest. Where mentioned in more than one post, I’ve provide a link to the search results […]

A Journey into the past in Search of Agapetes’ Pollinators: Could They Have Been Extinct Hummingbirds?

Agapetes species native to the Himalayas exhibit red, tubular, pendulous flowers, characteristic of hummingbird pollination. However, these birds are not found on the Asian continent! Kriebel and colleagues reconstructed the evolutionary history of the family to test the hypothesis that now-extinct hummingbirds pollinated these plants. Flowers present a set of […]

Gold medal oak

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Victoria, 2020 Last week I was dissing the willow oak (Quercus phellos), blaming its lack of appeal on some rather plain (willow-like) leaves. This week’s oak also has rather plainly cut leaves, without any scalloping or much serration at the edges, but it makes up for […]

Fruity Pebbles – Juniper Level Botanic Garden

I was lucky enough to catch the winter fruit show on our clump of Iris foetidissima last weekend. This little-known, evergreen, woodland iris from southern Europe, suffers because of its specific epithet “foetidissima”, which means stinking. That’s probably a bit much coming from someone with hundreds of amorphophallus clones. The […]

Psychadelic Houseplants and other stories

Protecting plants from extinction has become a bit easier in Colorado due to a change in drug laws, and other stories we’ve shared recently. Plant Survey Reveals Alarming Presence of Nonnative Invasive Species in Southwest Ohio A recent plant survey conducted by researchers from University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati […]

Napoleon’s oaks

Turkey oak, Quercus cerris; Hedgeley Dean, Malvern (April 2020) Having watched Ridley Scott’s Napoleon and read Andrew Roberts’s Napoleon the Great (both of which rely heavily on the recently curated correspondence of Napoleon), I was keen to find some quirky Quercus connections in this complex man’s life. First up the Montenotte medal, which […]

Cast System | Plant Spotlight

At the lowest levels of the horticultural world are those plants that naturally carpet the forest floor. One of our favorites belongs to the genus Aspidistra, commonly known as cast iron plants. During the spring and summer, they are barely noticed in the garden, but as everything else around them […]

A redder kind of oak

Red oak at back of Burrawang pub In addition to English and pin oaks, the other sort you see commonly around here (in the Southern Highlands, where we are spending our December) is a red oak of some kind. I use the words ‘other sort’ and ‘of some kind’ because […]

An English oak, of a small-leaved kind

English oak (Quercus robur), Bowral, NSW Nothing special today, just a small-leaved oak. An English oak*, Quercur robur, seen on the streets of Mittagong and Bowral where I’m spending most of December. It’s interesting, perhaps, because it has rather small leaves. They do get a little larger on older branches, […]