Plant Image Collection
Fossil flowers of Florissantia, an extinct genus of sterculiaceous affinity, compressed transversely in shale from the middle Eocene of Republic, Washington.
Liatris pycnostachya and Ratibida pinnata
Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree) is a characteristic member of the deciduous forests of the eastern United States and is an important timber tree. Some of the largest individuals of this species occur in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
The Anza Borrego Desert in bloom. This picture was taken in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in northeastern San Diego County in March 1978.
Flowers of the orchid Disa uniflora are pollinated exclusively by the Mountain Pride butterfly (Meneris tulbaghia: Salyrinae). The genus Disa has undergone spectacular adaptive radiation in southern Africa. Phylogenetic analysis shows that shifts from one pollination system to another have been a major feature of evolutionary diversification in this genus.
Fossil Woodwardia virginica foliage from the middle Miocene Yakima Canyon flora of central Washington State, USA. Vegetative and fertile features of this fossil are remarkably similar to those of the modern "Virginia chain fern" of the Atlantic coastal region, USA.
A leaflet of Rhus toxicodendroides, a fossil plant from the Los Ahuehuetes locality, Puebla, Mexico, a center of diversity for the Anacardiaceae since the Oligocene, suggesting that the area was important for the radiation and diversification for some lineages within the family.
Rare fossil twig with attached leaves and flowers of Pseudosalix handleyi, a newly recognized genus and species of the Salicaceae from the Eocene Green River Formation of northeastern Utah. Although similar to Salix in leaf architecture, unisexual flowers, and capsular fruits, this plant differs by its branched inflorescences and well-developed perianth. The fossil is interpreted to belong within the family Salicaceae s.l., as the immediate sister group to the clade containing extant Salix and Populus.
Black-eyed Susan, one of the many cultivators of Rudbeckia hirta L., the state flower of Maryland.
Winged fruits of modern and fossil Loxopterygium. Two modern species (top row) from seasonally dry tropical forests in South America are distinguished in fruit by the length of the pedicel. A new fossil species of Loxopterygium fruit from Miocene inter-Andean basins of Ecuador is morphologically similar to both modern species.
Anatomically preserved fossils of Shirleya grahamae (Lythraceae), from the middle Miocene Yakima Canyon flora of central Washington State, USA. In the left column are transverse sections of the fruit from near the apex to the base showing tightly packed seeds; the central column shows details of the seeds with a triangular embryo cavity and large inflated distal wing; the right column shows tangential sections from inside to outside.
This baobab tree (Adansonia grandidieri) at the Allee des Baobabs in western Madagascar is now surrounded by rice fields but normally grows as an emergent canopy tree in dry deciduous forests. Baobab trees live in seasonally dry climates in Africa, Australia, and Madagascar and have long been thought to rely on water stored in their large stems. Their wood is soft and weak, however, and the large diameter and high water content of their stem contributes to overall mechanical stability. Such biomechanical constraints are likely to be more important than water storage capacity in determining their shape and could in fact limit use of stored water.
The "Hooker Oak" was named in honor of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew on the occasion of Hooker
Silene latifolia, or white campion (formerly Melandrium album), is a well-recognized historical model of plant dioecy and heteromorphic sex chromosomes. Its large genome of 3012 Mbp is organized in 12 pairs of chromosomes, one of these pairs being sex chromosomes: XY in males and XX in females. The metaphase sex chromosomes can be easily distinguished from autosomes because the Y chromosome is the largest at c. 570 Mbp, and the X chromosome is second largest, at c. 400 Mbp. The Y chromosome has at least three genic regions responsible for the development of male (staminate) flowers; one of these Y-linked genic regions corresponds to suppression of carpel development in male flowers. The absence of the Y chromosome leads to female floral development (exclusive carpel formation). This fluorescence image shows the metaphase chromosomes from a male individual with the X and Y chromosomes indicated. Chromosomes were counterstained with DAPI (diamino phenylindole, here in red) and tagged with two fluorescent DNA probes-X-43.1 subtelomeric repeat (green) and (CAT)10 microsatellite (yellow).
Stem cross section of Pereskia guamacho, a member of the eight-species cactus lineage hypothesized to be sister to the remaining 1800 or so species of Cactaceae. Pereskia guamacho is a leafy, dry-forest tree lacking many anatomical traits, such as stem succulence, mucilage cells, delayed periderm, and stem stomata, that are highly conserved in most other cacti. Rather than the evolution of a single
Flowered trunk of an old tree of the New Caledonian endemic Ixora cauliflora in a small population in a gallery forest of the N
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the life cycle of Arabidopsis thaliana does not consist of a vegetative rosette that is the source of carbon production followed by a reproductive inflorescence that is a carbon sink. Earley et al. show instead that the inflorescence contributes much of the lifetime carbon gain, from 36 to 93%, depending on the genotype, and with much less water lost per unit carbon gained compared to the rosette. They suggest that the switch from rosette to inflorescence is an ontogenetic niche shift that allows the plant to successively exploit the warm air at the soil boundary during the cool season and escape into the freely moving air in warm season. This shift also results in a more water-use efficient plant during the warm season.
For further detail, see: Earley et al.
Differential interference contrast (DIC) image (
Stanleya pinnata (prince's plume) can hyperaccumulate the toxic element selenium (Se) up to 0.5% of its dry mass in its natural habitat in the western United States. In a 2-year manipulative field experiment to test whether S. pinnata uses Se as an elemental defense against one of its native mammalian herbivores, the blacktailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), plants with high Se concentrations had higher survival rates and less herbivory than low-Se counterparts when planted in black-tailed prairie dog towns. These results give better insight into the evolution of plant Se hyperaccumulation, suggesting a role for herbivory as a possible selection pressure. From an applied perspective, plants that accumulate Se may be cultivated for phytoremediation or as fortified foods, and this study helps assess the associated risk of Se moving up the food chain.
For further detail, see: Freeman et al.
Field botanists often have clever ways to identify species that are difficult to distinguish from each other without a microscope or reference to herbarium specimens. Usually the scientific basis or mechanism of such a
An unidentified twining liana from French Guiana. Lianas are often difficult to identify because the leaves and flowers may be high in the canopy. Lianas are an important component of the forest where they may represent 10 to 45% of woody stems in some tropical forests, and comprise as much as 40% of the diversity of woody species. Rooted in the soil, climbing plants have evolved a large diversity of strategies to ascend supports and reach light in the canopy. Some species may twine around supports (see videos in the online Supplemental Data) and form a strikingly uniform helix, which will squeeze the host and provide stability under gravitational loads; others use sensitive or sticky organs to cling onto the surrounding vegetation, or hooks to anchor to bark or small branches. For lianas, anything and everything in relation to host plants can be used for mechanical stability with little expenditure in structural support. This fascinating aspect of climbing plants has long attracted the attention of botanists since Darwin's seminal work
Numerous complex mathematical theories have been proposed to explain why annual growth rates of plants scale as the 3/4 power of total body mass, why total leaf mass per plant scales as the square of trunk diameter, and why a host of other widely reported ecological phenomena occur. In this issue, Hammond and Niklas unveil a new computer model, called SERA (for spatially explicit reiterative algorithm), which accurately predicts these and many other scaling relationships as plants are forced to conform mathematically to a few very simple physical principles while they compete for light and space. In each SERA simulation, tree canopies are depicted as thinshelled hemispheres and trunks are modeled as simple, untapered cylinders that increase in girth as simulated plants age. A hypothetical landscape is randomly seeded with a specified number of propagules and monitored during every growing season to assess biomass- and age-dependent allometric relationships. A graphic module allows a population or community to be observed at any stage in its growth as old plants die and new ones propagate. In this image, the observer is standing at ground level and looking up into a forest composed of a single species mathematically modeled to mimic the allometry of a population of Abies alba.
For further detail, see: Hammond and Niklas
Cuscuta (dodders) species are obligate parasitic plants with stems that resemble yellow-orange spaghetti. Their seedlings can detect and select among potential hosts using volatile chemical cues. Dodders can transfer viruses, mycoplasmas, and macromolecules from one host to another, and they are involved in the translocation of mRNA from their hosts and in horizontal gene transfer spanning deep phylogenetic distances. Similar to other parasitic plants, Cuscuta spp. have been described as keystone species and as
Longitudinal section of developing caryopsis of maize ancestor, teosinte (Zea mays ssp. parviglumis, caryopsis diameter cca. 3 mm). Teosinte plants differ significantly from domesticated maize Zea mays ssp. mays. Teosinte plants have many lateral branches with terminal male inflorescences, which closely resemble maize tassels, and small female inflorescences or
Foliage of Papuacedrus prechilensis (Berry) Wilf et al., comb. nov. (Cupressaceae), from the middle Eocene R
Reproductive stem of Monotropsis odorata (sweet pine sap; Ericaceae), a nonphotosynthetic plant endemic to the southeastern United States. As a myco-heterotroph, M. odorata obtains carbon resources from associated mycorrhizal fungi and has a highly reduced vegetative morphology consisting of an underground root mass that produces one to many diminutive reproductive stems (3.5
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