Exploring the science of plants, from the field to the lab


Transplants: Saving the Denizens of a Threatened Coastal Ecosystem

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2017 by Matt Newman

Jessica L. Allen is completing her Ph.D. at the Commodore Matthew Perry Graduate Studies Program at The New York Botanical Garden. James C. Lendemer, Ph.D., is an Assistant Curator in the Institute of Systematic Botany at The New York Botanical Garden. Lichens are their primary research interest.

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Wetlands and dunes in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina (Photo by Dr. James Lendemer)
Lichen transplant methods use a variety of artificial surfaces
Lichen transplant methods use a variety of artificial surfaces

In a previous post, we reported on the discovery of an overlooked biodiversity hotspot located in the vast coastal swamps of eastern North Carolina. While the area was already renowned for its wildness, we discovered that it hosts more lichen species than anywhere else in the Mid-Atlantic. Unfortunately, the factors that likely preserved the wilderness into the present day—endless low-lying swamps are difficult to drain and log—mean that it is now imperiled by rising sea levels associated with climate change. In an area where the elevation is measures in inches, minute increases in sea level mean the difference between old-growth, lichen-rich forests and marshes or open water where lichens cannot survive.

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What Is A Fruit?

Posted in Interesting Plant Stories, Uncategorized on August 6, 2014 by Lawrence Kelly

Lawrence M. Kelly, Ph.D., is Director of Graduate Studies at The New York Botanical Garden. His research focuses on the evolution and classification of flowering plants.

Developing fruit (ovary) at the center of a Yucca flower

Despite the year-round availability of most produce, few things say summer like a juicy, vine-ripened tomato from the garden or a produce stand. You can slice them, dice them, and use them in stews, sauces, and salads. They’re one of the most versatile of vegetables. Or are they?

Is a tomato a vegetable, as most people think it is, or is it really a fruit? In general terms, fruits are usually sweet and vegetables are savory. Fruits are usually eaten as dessert, and vegetables as a main course. Fruits are often succulent and edible when raw. More technical dictionary definitions recognize a fruit as an edible reproductive body of a plant. In contrast, vegetables are usually defined much more broadly, for example as an edible part of a plant, or they are defined by example, such as in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, which cites cabbages, beans, and potatoes.

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