This edition of Berry Go Round is dedicated to Karl Ramjohn and Floyd Lucas, who died at sea earlier this month. Karl and Floyd were the brother and brother-in-law respectively of Ian Ramjohn, a biologist, plant blogger/enthusiast and early supporter of this carnival. Ian, we are sorry for your loss, and wish you and your family the best in this terrible time.
This month’s Berry Go Round finds us Northerners in the heart of winter, and in this time of year the aspect of plants that strikes me the most is their sheer toughness, durability and longevity, and these aspects are the focus of many of the posts in this month’s edition.
Special Note to Readers Of This Blog Who Are Not Really Into Plants: What? You’re still not into plants? Check out this great video over at LovePlantLife. Nothing technical, no Latin, just cool stuff about plants.
Here in the Great Basin, we like to think we hold the proud record for longevity with our Bristlecone Pines, but Dr. A over at The Phytofactor calls our attention to a durable Norway Spruce in Sweden, which at an estimated 9,550 years old (pic left), is nearly twice as old our most ancient P. longaeva. Dr. A follows this up by bringing us up to speed on the most ancient tree of all, which 385 million years ago was forming the very first forests.
The toughness of plants is nowhere clearer than on rockglaciers as David shows us at Cryology & Co. His fascinating post features members of diverse genera from Cerastrium (pic left, a weedy genus of the Carnation family) to Huperzia (pic right, a Lycophyte, and close cousin of the clubmosses.) (David’s post also highlights some wonderful lichens. While not strictly plants, lichens are really “plants-plus” with their wonderful symbiosis of fungi and green algae or cyanobacteria, and certainly merit the interest and admiration of plant lovers everywhere.)
But perhaps the most impressive winter survivors are the Bryophytes, or mosses, whose splashes of green make such wonderful islands of color in winter forests. Jessica at Moss Plants and More provides a great overview of why this is, and just what exactly is going on with moss in the dead of winter.
Back in the Great Basin, Desert Survivor highlights another “tough” plant- and my personal, all-time favorite monocot- the otherworldly Joshua tree, while indulging in that favorite past-time of all us Great Basin residents: The Mojave Winter Getaway! Another fascinating aspect of Joshua trees, which I blogged about last May, is that they’re dependent on a single species of pollinator- a monolectic moth. (I love this photo of hers- Joshuas on the ridge with a low-lying inversion in the background; a classic Basin-and-Range-in-Winter shot.) Just yesterday she followed up with this broader-ranging post on the survival strategies of desert plants.
Plants that survive- like the Joshua tree- by way of a single pollinator are endlessly fascinating, linked to the world of life by a single thread as it were, and Laurent at SeedsAside introduces us to a fascinating example, Macaranga tanarius, whose sole pollinator, a vegetarian beetle (pic right), seems to have somehow evolved into its role out of a family of strict predators. But Laurent’s even more amazing pollination post this month concerns the flowers of Epipactis helleborine (pic left), which not only rewards its pollinators, but apparently addicts them to its narcotic nectar!
If you’re a relative newcomer to the world of plants, and a bit intimidated by all this Latin bouncing around, Sally at Foothills Fancies posts a well-grounded reminder not to take classification (or ourselves) too seriously, lest we get bogged down in the phylogeny and fail to see the … well, I guess “forest for the trees” actually works in this case, and focus on enjoying the plants all around us. (I wish Sally had that post up about a year ago, when I dove into botany; it would’ve eased my mind on many late nights spent scratching my head over funny Latin words…) Sally follows this “Big Picture” post up with the wistful tale of the “orphaning” (“marooning”?) of her old college flame, Sphenopsida.
Returning to the toughness of plants, here at Watching the World Wake Up we’ve looked at a couple more Utah trees this past month, Limber Pine and Utah Juniper, and how they deal with our heavy mountain snows and chilling valley inversions here in the Great Basin.
But lest we get too proud of our tough plants, Gravity’s Rainbow Extinction Thursday series reminds us of wonderful plants we’ve lost, and the many others we’re so close to losing. And the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog updates us this month on challenges to biodiversity in the growing things we eat from Kenya to Versailles.
Plants in winter are ultimately about enduring time, until they can grow and reproduce and start the cycle anew. And speaking of time, the issue of just how plants tell time is addressed this month over on the fabulous How Plants Work. (Why didn’t someone tell me about this blog when I was getting into plants?) Tons of great stuff here.
That wraps up this month’s edition of Berry Go Round. Thanks to all of you who submitted posts. Be sure to join us again next month for the February edition of this carnival, to be hosted at Gravity’s Rainbow.
Postscript: I actually only had to reject just one submission for this edition, and only because the plant tie-in was just a bit too weak for this carnival. But the subject- those annoying “Acai Berry” spam emails- caught my eye, and the post is fascinating (though long), so I’ve included the link here.