Plant Talk

Presently at NYBG: Sun-Dappled Color

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on July 13, 2023, by Marlon Co

Marlon Co is the Photographer and Digital Content Manager of the New York Botanical Garden.

The heat of summer has truly settled in, and for us the time to start taking a slower pace begins. But for heat-loving plants, it ushers in a new rush of botanical activity. The first lotus blossoms appear, punctuating the moment with their sheer delicate beauty in the Conservatory Courtyard. Pollinators also enjoy this fresh new bounty with plants like beebalm practically buzzing with visitors in search of nectar.

But not everyone enjoys being in the full sun, and I definitely took the time to appreciate shadier moments on the Garden grounds whenever I could, whether it be a view of the Home Gardening Center from underneath the Nikko firs or enjoying woodland pinkroot in dappled light at the entrance to the Native Plant Garden. My favorite break from the heat, however, was found in the Conservatory, where underneath the diffuse light I stumbled upon NYBG scientist Kate Armstrong, along with Marc Hachadourian and intern Isabel, collecting plants from NYBG’s Living Collections. It was a great example of how NYBG’s plants not only provide aesthetic beauty, but also serve as living material which scientists can use in their studies.

In this case, Kate and Isabel are working on investigating the utility of leaf reflectance spectroscopy for species identification. By using a special hyperspectral camera to capture images of leaves and record their reflectance signatures, they hope to see if any unique or constant metrics exist to the 200 different specimens of plants they are testing. If this proves to be true, this process could then be used to identify plants from the sky with the use of drones or even satellites, a growing number of which are now being outfitted with these same hyperspectral cameras. Amazing things are always happening here at the Garden.

Thanks for reading our 8th issue of Presently, a weekly showcase of our favorite images highlighting our appreciation and connection to plants and the natural world. Check back next week as we continue the journey of discovery.

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