2015 Triarch "Botanical Images"
Student Travel Award

The Botanical Society of America welcomes you to the 10th annual Triarch "Botanical Images" Student Travel Award entries. From the vibrant microscopy images to those depicting entire ecosystems, pictures are always an enticing way to learn and teach. We trust you will enjoy the results and in the process learn a bit more about plants!

» Submit images for 2015: January 1 - April 10, 2015 | View Past Award Recipients and Submissions

2015 Submissions for the Conant "Botanical Images" Student Travel Award
Jesse Adams, University of Hawaii at Manoa - #27  |  Sarah Allen, University of Florida - #28  |  Hannah Best, Maryville University - #34  |  Jennifer Blake, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - #19, #20, #21  |  Allison Bronson, American Museum of Natural History - #14  |  Tara Caton, Bucknell University - #29  |  Mario Coiro, ETH Zurich - #38  |  Stephanie Conway, The University of Melbourne - #25  |  Kendal Davis, Delta State University - #30, #36  |  Jennifer Dixon, Iowa State University - #4, #6, #11  |  Hanna Dorman, Mississippi State University - #12  |  Benjamin Durrington, Hillsdale College - #17, #18  |  Lauren Gonzalez, University of Florida - #31, #32  |  Morgan Gostel, George Mason University - #5  |  Angela McDonnell, Oklahoma State University - #37  |  Diego Morales-Briones, University of Idaho - #35  |  Alaina Petlewski, Humboldt State University - #15, #16  |  Rebecca Povilus, Harvard University - #7  |  Emily Stoll, Drake University - #23, #24  |  Gary Sur, University of Hawaii at Hilo - #26, #39  |  Oscar Vargas, The University of Texas - #8, #9, #10  |  Kevin Weitemier, Oregon State University - #22

Submission #4
Title: The Sexy and Possibly Sinister Cinquefoil
Author: Jennifer Dixon
Institution: Iowa State University
Department: Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
Family: Rosaceae
Taxon: Drymocallis arguta
Common Name: Tall cinquefoil, Prairie cinquefoil
Season/time of year: Summer
Area: Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge, Prairie City
State/Province: Iowa Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: This image was taken on an iPhone4 without flash or any modification. The image was taken during the eye of a thunderstorm so the lighting was created by an amazing storm backed haze which made the prairie seem to glow.

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Caption: A single cinquefoil flower blooms on a summer morning.
Scientific Description/Explanation: This seemingly simple flower hides a number of botanical wonders just outside human sensory capability. Under ultraviolet light the base of each petal has a dark pattern which is believed to help guide insects and other pollinators towards the nectar held there. By drawing pollinators towards the center of the flower they come into contact with the anthers poised above the nectaries which passes pollen onto the insects to be carried to other fertile flowers. Some research has even shown that these plants have the capability to produce enzymes typically found in carnivorous plants, though they are not known to devour insects...yet.

 

Submission #5
Title: A Stellar Performance
Author: Morgan Gostel
Institution: George Mason University
Department: Environmental Science and Policy
Family: Burseraceae
Taxon: Commiphora aprevalii
Common Name: Daro
Season/time of year: June 2013, beginning of the dry season
Area: Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve
State/Province: Toliara Country: Madagascar
Longitude: 44°37'45"ELatitude: 23°39'18"S
Additional Information: Image captured using a Zeiss SUPRA55-VP scanning electron microscope. 270X magnification, pixel average noise reduction, 1 kV EHT, 30 µm aperture.

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Caption: A scanning electron micrograph of stellate pubescence from the upper surface of a leaf on Commiphora aprevalii (Baill.) Guillaumin at 270X magnification. Additional surface features shown include interspersed glands, stomata, and a secondary vein.
Scientific Description/Explanation: Stellate (star-shaped) pubescence is rare among species belonging to the myrrh genus, Commiphora, and it appears to be restricted to a single clade in Madagascar. To the naked eye, these hair-like outgrowths give leaves, flowers, fruits, and stems in this group the appearance of being coated in many tiny stars. It is thought that such features provide these shrubs and trees with a mechanism for defense against herbivory. I collected this specimen from a patch of protected forest in Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwest Madagascar while being observed by a family of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) during fieldwork in June 2013. I have imaged this and several other species of ‘stellate’ Commiphora as part of a taxonomic revision currently in progress. In total, 7 species of Commiphora in Madagascar have a stellate pubescence – four of which are being described as new species.

 

Submission #6
Title: A Flower of a Different Color
Author: Jennifer Dixon
Institution: Iowa State University
Department: Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology
Family: Poaceae
Taxon: Eragrostis Cilianensis
Common Name: stinkgrass; candy grass; gray lovegrass
Season/time of year:
Area:
State/Province: Country:
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information:

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Caption: This image was taken from dried specimens moistened with Pohl's solution, a mix of water and detergent that is used to soften dried specimens so they are easier to dissect. The darkened shaped within the delicate "petals" are the ovary and stamen of these delicate grass flowers.
Scientific Description/Explanation: Grass flowers are rarely seen and often misunderstood. When you think of flowers most people imagine colorful petals and a multitude of arrangements while in the grasses flowers are tiny but they can be just as diverse and beautiful as other flowering plants. This image is indeed a flower. Actually several tiny flowers called florets. Here we see the delicate "petals" called a palea and lemma which enclose the reproductive structures within. Grass specialists called Agrostologists can often identify a species of grass just by looking at these tiny inflorescences. Note the purple shades at the tip of each floret, the serrated edges and the cream-colored veins.

 

Submission #7
Title: Bright Colors and Strong Scents
Author: Rebecca Povilus
Institution: Harvard University
Department: Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Family: Schisandraceae
Taxon: Illicium floridanum
Common Name: Stink-bush
Season/time of year:
Area: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
State/Province: MA Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Zeiss Discovery v12 Dissecting microscope

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Caption: Flowers of Illicium floridanum are show-stoppers, both for eyes and noses
Scientific Description/Explanation: The vivid crimson of Illicium floridanum flowers distinguishes it from the other North American Illicium species (I. parviflorum), which has more demure, pale-yellow flowers. But that’s not the only tip-off: flowers of I. floridianum smell like fresh fish. Furthermore, flowers of I. floridanum are thermogenic, meaning that they produce heat though internal, metabolic reactions. Warm flowers may help to make their unique scent even stronger and have been hypothesized to provide a cozy retreat for midges, which are a common pollinator for this species. And perhaps the smelly flowers are not so surprising after all - Illicium species around the world are known for their fragrances, whether as part of the flowers, leaves, bark, or fruit (you may have seen and tasted the fruits of the south-Asian I. verum as the spice star anise).

 

Submission #8
Title: An enduring relationship
Author: Oscar Vargas
Institution: The University of Texas
Department: Integrative Biology
Family: Compositae
Taxon: Espeletia hartwegiana
Common Name: Frailejón
Season/time of year: June
Area: Nevado del Ruiz
State/Province: Caldas Country: Colombia
Longitude: 75°21'14.87"WLatitude: 4°57'9.99"N
Additional Information: Nikon coolpix P700 ISO100, f/5.6

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Caption: Espeletia hartwegii and Oxypogon stuebelli
Scientific Description/Explanation: The paramo is a high Andean ecosystem characterized by low temperatures and high humidity. Even though the paramo is mainly dominated by grasses, an assemblage of different plant lineages have also evolved to live in this cold harsh ecosystem. The genus Espeletia, easily recognizable by its rosette habit, is one of many lineages which have radiated to the paramo producing numerous species. In parallel, many animals have evolved closely to these paramo plants utilizing the resources like nectar and pollen that these plants provide. Oxypogon is a genus of hummingbird restricted to the paramo closely associated with Espeletia and other genera in the Compositae. It is believed that the relationship between these two organisms started at least three million years ago when the flora and fauna of the paramo started to evolve to the new altitudes provided by the Andean cordillera in its final rise.

 

Submission #9
Title: Moonrise over the paramo
Author: Oscar Vargas
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
Department: Integrative Biology
Family:
Taxon:
Common Name:
Season/time of year: June
Area: Pramo de Frontino
State/Province: Antioquia Country: Colombia
Longitude: 76° 5'17.95"WLatitude: 6°27'47.63"N
Additional Information:

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Caption: Paramo de Frontino, Antioquia, Colombia
Scientific Description/Explanation: The paramo is a high altitude ecosystem restricted to the tropical Andes of South America. The paramo is only present in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, and it occupies no more than 2% of their continental area. Yet, the paramo contains close to 3,600 species of vascular plants of which 60% are believed to be unique to the ecosystem. These high levels of plant biodiversity and endemism are due to the insularity and recent rise of the Andes that provided a new ecosystem for these plants to colonize. This photo portrays many plant lineages that have evolved in the paramo since its emergence five to three million years ago. The landscape in the picture is dominated by Puya (Bromeliaceae) and Espeletia (Composite).

 

Submission #10
Title: Hot Air Balloon flower
Author: Oscar Vargas
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
Department: Integrative Biology
Family: Gentianaceae
Taxon: Gentianella hirculus
Common Name:
Season/time of year: August
Area: Parque Nacional Cajas
State/Province: Azuay Country: Ecuador
Longitude: 79º14'31"WLatitude: 2º46'54"S
Additional Information:

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Caption: Gentianella hirculus
Scientific Description/Explanation: Gentianella is a genus of flowering plants that comprises 275 species distributed over the Americas, Eurasia, Australia, and New Zealand. A group of 51 species of the genus have evolved on the high altitudes of the Andes reaching up to 4,700 m above sea level (15,400 f). The miniature flowers portrayed in the photo are about to open, their bright colors and the globular shape makes them seem like miniature hot air balloons.

 

Submission #11
Title: Neon Orbit
Author: Jennifer Dixon
Institution: Iowa State University
Department: Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
Family: Asparagaceae
Taxon: Asparagus officinalis
Common Name: Asparagus
Season/time of year:
Area: Ames
State/Province: Iowa Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: This image comes from a basic root section slide found in most plant cell microscopy packs. So much beauty can be found in events most basic of places.

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Caption: Phase contrast image of a vascular bundle and raphide crystal within the root of an asparagus plant.
Scientific Description/Explanation: What appears to be a fractured moon orbiting a neon planet is in fact a bundle of mineral crystals contained within a cell in the root of an asparagus plant. The large circular structure in the upper center is the vascular bundle which is the water and nutrient highway of the plant. Within the vascular bundle are specialized cells of thick-walled hollow xylem (bright whites and light blues), and dense phloem (darker blue). The yellow lines are cell walls and the bright blue "bundle" are crystals of calcium oxalate produced within one of the cells.

 

Submission #12
Title: The Seedling
Author: Hanna Dorman
Institution: Mississippi State University
Department: Biological Sciences
Family: Fabaceae
Taxon: Chamaecrista fasciculata
Common Name: Partridge Pea
Season/time of year:
Area: Starkville
State/Province: MS Country: United States
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Canon Rebel XTI

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Caption: An isolated Chamaecrista fasciculata seed sprouts comfortably indoors as the winter rages outside.
Scientific Description/Explanation: Chamaecrista fasciculata is an annual legume that grows widely throughout the eastern United States. The plant blooms between May and September and exhibits vibrant yellow flowers marked by red. The legume plays hosts to numbers animals, such as sulfur butterflies, bees and ants. Additionally, the plant forms a symbiosis with Bradyrhizobium species. This symbiosis provides an important ecological service of converting atmospheric nitrogen into the usable form, ammonium. This splendid plant can be seen growing in a variety of habitats and along roadsides throughout the eastern United States, all while providing an invaluable service.

 

Submission #14
Title: Pinnately Compound
Author: Allison Bronson
Institution: American Museum of Natural History
Department: Richard Gilder Graduate School
Family: Dicksoniaceae
Taxon: Cibotium chamissoi
Common Name: Hapu`u
Season/time of year: March
Area: New York Botanical Garden
State/Province: New York Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: This was taken in March 2015 in New York City. The wind was howling outside, but the Haupt conservatory provided a little subtropical respite in which to enjoy an array of pteridophyte diversity.

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Caption: Early afternoon sunlight passes through two overlapping fronds of a Cibotium tree fern
Scientific Description/Explanation: Cibotium chamissoi (Dicksoniaceae) is a tree fern native to Hawaii. It possesses large pinnately compound leaves (fronds), each of which consists of a hierarchy of branching axes (rachises) that hold on either side files of small photosynthetic leaflets (pinnules). Hawaii is experiencing a significant restructuring of its terrestrial ecosystems and the habitat of these ferns is not exempt from these changes. An influx of invasive species, combined with changing land use practices, has already (perhaps irrevocably) changed the Hawaiian landscape. In particular, invasion of Cyathea, a popular commercially available tree fern, is forcing out native Cibotium chamissoi.

 

Submission #15
Title: The Largest Pollination Event on Earth
Author: Alaina Petlewski
Institution: Humboldt State University
Department: Biology
Family: Rosaceae
Taxon: Prunus dulcis
Common Name: Almond
Season/time of year: February
Area: Along Ave 328 near Dinuba Blvd, Visalia
State/Province: California Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Captured with Canon Rebel T2i, manual mode: 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 100; processed with iPhoto '09

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Caption: An almond tree (Prunus dulcis) in an orchard outside Visalia, CA being pollinated by a honeybee (Apis mellifera)
Scientific Description/Explanation: Roughly half of all flowering plants are self-incompatible. This means that fertilization by gametes originating from the same plant or a close relative cannot occur. The almond tree (Prunus dulcis) is a prime example of a self-incompatible plant. Pollen must somehow make it from the stamen of an almond flower to the stigma of another, unrelated almond flower. Strictly from a statistical point of view, the likelihood of this happening without outside interaction seems slim. So, how does this potentially delicate system involving a self-incompatible plant, not pollinated by wind, make up an $11 billion dollar industry in California? The answer is simple: honeybees, and lots of them. An estimated 1.6 million colonies are required every year to pollinate the 790,000 acres of almond trees in California. This could easily be the largest coordinated pollination event worldwide.

 

Submission #16
Title: Whorled
Author: Alaina Petlewski
Institution: Humboldt State University
Department: Biology
Family: Equisetaceae
Taxon: Equisetum telmateia
Common Name: Great Horsetail
Season/time of year: March
Area: Arcata
State/Province: California Country: USA
Longitude: 124°04'36.1"WLatitude: 40°52'40.8"N
Additional Information: Captured with Canon Rebel T2i, manual mode: 1/60s, f/14.0, ISO 1600, with FEL; Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS at 41mm zoom with Tiffen macro filters: +1, +2, +4; processed with iPhoto ’09

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Caption: A close view of the fused whorled leaves (with brown tips, forming a collar around the stem) and branches (each with whorls of small fused leaves) of Equisetum telmateia.
Scientific Description/Explanation: In a world dominated by seed plants, it is easy to overlook horsetails. Equisetum is found nearly everywhere in the world, except Antarctica, and is infamous in some regions as an invasive weed. Despite its diversity and resilience, Equisetum is the last extant genus of the Sphenopsida. Characterized by striking whorled appendages and a unique architecture of conducting tissues, the Sphenopsids were once a very diverse group of vascular plants that reproduced using spores rather than seeds, with some species even evolving arborescence and extreme heterospory (a reproductive condition known today in seed plants). Sphenopsids arise suddenly in the fossil record in the Middle Devonian. In light of this seemingly sudden origin and because of a lack of studies addressing their deep phylogeny, the relationships between the different lineages of Sphenopsids and other vascular plants remain unresolved to date.

 

Submission #17
Title: Ferruginous Forest
Author: Benjamin Durrington
Institution: Hillsdale College
Department: Biology
Family: Zamiaceae
Taxon: Zamia integrifolia
Common Name: Florida arrowroot
Season/time of year:
Area: cultivated
State/Province: Country:
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: JEOL JSM-5510 scanning electron microscope, 5 kV, 220X

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Caption: Trichomes from male cone of Zamia integrifolia (SEM)
Scientific Description/Explanation: Shown here is a scanning electron micrograph of trichomes (hairs) from a male cone of the Florida arrowroot, Zamia integrifolia. Zamia (Zamiaceae) is a large genus of cycads that includes about 50 species distributed in the subtropical and tropical regions of the New World. Zamia integrifolia, the only cycad native to the continental United States, is found in Florida and southern Georgia, as well as the Caribbean. Like other cycads, Zamia integrifolia produces cones. Cycad cones are composed of modified leaves called sporophylls, which bear pollen (as in the case of microsporophylls) or ovules (as in the case of megasporophylls). In Zamia, a layer of short hairs covers the outer surface, or cone scale, of each sporophyll, forming a tomentum. This micrograph was colored to approximate the natural reddish-brown hue of the tomentum.

 

Submission #18
Title: Cryptic Collage
Author: Benjamin Durrington
Institution: Hillsdale College
Department: Biology
Family: Cactaceae
Taxon: Echinocereus reichenbachii
Common Name: lace cactus
Season/time of year: August
Area: Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway
State/Province: Texas Country: U.S.A.
Longitude: 98° 1'51.96"WLatitude: 32°48'50.14"N
Additional Information:

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Caption: Echinocereus reichenbachii in its natural habitat
Scientific Description/Explanation: These two seedlings of Echinocereus reichenbachii (Cactaceae) were found growing in a flat, gravelly area in Mineral Wells State Park (Parker County, Texas). This park is located in north central Texas, in the Western Cross Timbers ecoregion, a transitional area between grassland and eastern deciduous forest. The soil in this ecoregion varies greatly, allowing different plant assemblages to occur in close proximity. In this open and well-drained area, many Echinocereus reichenbachii individuals of various ages grew together, along with Opuntia and grasses.

 

Submission #19
Title: Queen for the Day
Author: Jennifer Blake
Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Department: Ecology and Evolution
Family: Apiaceae
Taxon: carota
Common Name: Queen Anne's Lace
Season/time of year: Summer
Area: Hutcheson Memorial Forest
State/Province: New Jersey Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information:

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Caption:
Scientific Description/Explanation: Queen Anne’s Lace is a beautiful weedy plant that grows along roadsides and in old fields. Once pollinated, its lacy white flowers (called double umbels) curl up with all the seeds inside. The seeds then disperse in late fall or winter, blowing away across frozen snow or getting caught in animal fur. Queen Anne’s Lace is the same species as common carrot and also has a long underground taproot, though the weedy one is considerably tougher, smaller, and less sweet than the orange ones purchased at the store.

 

Submission #20
Title: Forest Gateway
Author: Jennifer Blake
Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Department: Ecology and Evolution
Family:
Taxon:
Common Name:
Season/time of year: Winter
Area: La Selva
State/Province: Country: Costa Rica
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information:

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Caption:
Scientific Description/Explanation: These amazing trees grow in the tropical rainforests protected by La Selva Biological Station. La Selva lies on the eastern side of the mountains that run, spine-like, down the middle of Costa Rica. Over four meters of annual rainfall sustain the incredible floral diversity.

 

Submission #21
Title: Shades of Green
Author: Jennifer Blake
Institution: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Department: Ecology and Evolution
Family:
Taxon:
Common Name:
Season/time of year: Winter
Area: Cuerici Biological Station
State/Province: Country: Costa Rica
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information:

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Caption:
Scientific Description/Explanation: High in the Talamanca Mountains of southwestern Costa Rica lies the Cuerici Biological station. It nestles in an epiphytic paradise, where towering ancient hardwoods harbor lichens and mosses of all kinds. The cloud banks that roll in every afternoon provide the epiphytes with the moisture they need to grow in lush drapes along rocks, trees, and gnarled branches.

 

Submission #22
Title: I'm taking a lichen to these manzanita
Author: Kevin Weitemier
Institution: Oregon State University
Department: Botany & Plant Pathology
Family: Ericaceae
Taxon: Arctostaphylos viscida
Common Name: Whiteleaf manzanita
Season/time of year: Spring
Area: Medford
State/Province: Oregon Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information:

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Caption: Spring branches of Arctostaphylos viscida (whiteleaf manzanita) draped in lichen (possibly in the genus Evernia)
Scientific Description/Explanation: Smooth bark and a rich red to brown color are good indicators that trees or shrubs seen while hiking in Oregon and California belong to the Arbutoideae subfamily of the blueberry family, Ericaceae. The manzanitas, in the genus Arctostaphylos, can form dense thickets as a dominant or co-dominant member of chaparral plant communities. The manzanita seen here, Arctostaphylos viscida, produces seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for many years, until stimulated to germinate by fire, allowing this shrub to establish quickly after an area burns. The branches of this manzanita are draped in lichen, a separate organism that does not harm the plant, but does use the branches as habitat. While the productivity of a community is often thought to be driven by the photosynthesis performed by plants, cryptogams such as this lichen perform photosynthesis as well and may account for about %7 of the net primary productivity worldwide. Bacteria within the lichen can also obtain nitrogen from the air, processing it into a form that can be used by plants and animals which are unable to secure this important resource from the atmosphere.

 

Submission #23
Title: First leaves
Author: Emily Stoll
Institution: Drake University
Department: Biology
Family: Saxifragaceae
Taxon: Ribes hirtellum
Common Name: Smooth Gooseberry
Season/time of year: Spring
Area: Ashworth Park
State/Province: Iowa Country: United States
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Fujifilm FinePix S700, f/4, ISO 800, 1/240 sec exposure, 8 mm focal length

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Caption: Ribes hirtellum new leaf growth from buds after a rain
Scientific Description/Explanation: These are the first gooseberry leaves beginning to form. The picture was taken after a grey rainy spring day. Since the leaves are not yet fully formed, they were able to hold onto the water droplets long after the rain. Although the background is blurred out to focus on the subject, you can tell how early in the spring it is because the ground is more brown than green, signifying that only a small amount of growth has happened in the forest so far.

 

Submission #24
Title: Sporophytes
Author: Emily Stoll
Institution: Drake University
Department: Biology
Family: Bryophyta
Taxon:
Common Name: Moss
Season/time of year: Spring
Area: Ashworth Park
State/Province: Iowa Country: United States
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: FujiFilm FinePix S700, f/6.3, ISO 800, focal length 14 mm, 1/120 sec. exposure

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Caption: Multiple sporophytes on gametophytes of moss species
Scientific Description/Explanation: This moss has produced many sporophytes early in the spring. most of these are maturing in the since that they have lost their calyptra. However, they still seem to be active because you can see the operculum (the small whiteish caps on the ends) on a few of the capsules still. This picture was taken after a rain, so if you were to look at the operculum under a microscope, you would be able to see the peristome teeth opening and closing to release spores.

 

Submission #25
Title: Flex your muscles Mr Ginkgo!
Author: Stephanie Conway
Institution: The University of Melbourne
Department: School of Biosciences
Family: Ginkgoaceae
Taxon: Ginkgo biloba
Common Name:
Season/time of year: July
Area: Arnold Arboretum, Boston
State/Province: MA Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Zeiss LSM700 Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope. Stained with Calcofluor White and DAPI.

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Caption: The curled lobes of a young Ginkgo leaf as seen with a confocal microscope.
Scientific Description/Explanation: The beautiful fan-shaped leaves of Gingko biloba make it a popular garden and street tree throughout the world. The species name "biloba" is due to these leaves having two lobes. These two lobes develop very early on the young leaf and curl inwards on themselves as they grow - and sometimes look like they are flexing their muscles in front of a mirror! Ginkgo has fascinated botanists for many years, not only because of their unique leaves, but also because it is the only living species left in their family - the rest of the plants in this group are only known from fossils. Much is still to be learnt about such an incomparable tree!

 

Submission #26
Title: The Afterglow of Trichomes
Author: Gary Sur
Institution: University of Hawaii at Hilo
Department: Biology
Family: Myrtaceae
Taxon: Metrosideros polymorpha var. incana
Common Name: Ohi'a Lehua
Season/time of year: Summer
Area: Ko'olau Range
State/Province: HI Country: United States
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Scanning Electron Microscope (Hitachi S-3400N). Conditions: Full-Vacuum, cold-stage: -15 degrees Celsius, 350x magnification

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Caption: Luminescence of electrons emanating from the charged-bases of excised trichomes in this SEM micrograph.
Scientific Description/Explanation: The leaf-undersides of M. polymorpha var. incana are covered in trichomes (i.e. plant hairs), which naturally obstructs inspection of underlying surface features. While trichomes can be removed by shaving the leaves with a double-sided razor, these sites of excised trichomes attracts excess electrons. In scanning electron microscopy, operators must always battle with excess electrons; commonly referred to as "charging". Under a SEM, charging appears as glowing white patches that lowers the surface resolution of adjacent non-charging areas. Charging can be especially problematic when imaging fresh, moist biological specimens such as plant tissue. This micrograph was mistakenly created with the specimen placed in full-vacuum conditions instead of partial-vacuum conditions, the latter of which can reduce the severity of charging. Ironically, this mistake illustrates one useful side effect of charging: Distinguishing stomatal complexes (i.e. the donut-like structures) from the excised trichomes. Even when set at 350X magnification, such as this image, it can be difficult discriminating between partially excised stomatal complexes and partially excised trichomes.

 

Submission #27
Title: Koliʻi at Kaʻala
Author: Jesse Adams
Institution: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Department: Botany
Family: Campanulaceae
Taxon: Trematolobelia kaalae (O. Deg.) Lammers
Common Name: Koli‘i
Season/time of year: Spring
Area: Mt. Ka‘ala
State/Province: Hawaii Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Nikon AW100

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Caption: These are the unique fruits of Trematolobelia kaalae photographed on Mt. Ka‘ala, the highest point on the island of O‘ahu. This member of the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae), named after this mountain, grows nowhere else on Earth except for this area. The fruits function like salt shakers when moved by the wind, allowing some of the numerous seeds within to escape through the many pores. However, this escape is not rapid and seeds are often found in year old fruit.
Scientific Description/Explanation: If asked to give an example of adaptive radiation in plants, the rapid diversification into a myriad of new forms, many will use the Silversword Alliance especially when speaking of Hawai‘i. However, members of the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae) represent the largest adaptive radiation in the Hawaiian Flora. From one ancestor that arrived in the Hawaiian Islands about 13 million years ago, 135 species evolved which thrive in a variety of habitats that range from salt sprayed sea cliffs to dense forest interiors. It is believed that most species co-evolved with their Honeycreeper pollinators to have long, curved flowers. Interestingly enough this produced a radiation of birds which rivals Darwin’s Finches. Members of the genus Trematolobelia are distinguished from other species by their flower structure/inflorescence (flower arraignment on a plant) and their novel fruit, pictured here. It was long thought that the pores where created by insects and did not function in the dispersal of its’ tiny seeds. These plants are monocarpic; meaning after an individual flowers and produces fruit it dies. The fruit (capsules) maintain smooth, closed sides until maturity when the outer flesh (Parenchyma) decomposes revealing a porous interior wall (Sclerenchyma—cells impregnated with water repelling lignin). Winged seeds are released through these pores by wind shaking the capsules. The seeds’ escape is slow and often they remain in the capsule a year after maturity. Unfortunately, seeing these amazing fruit and subsequently the next generation of plants will become less common in the future. Habitat degradation caused by invasive plants and feral ungulates (pigs, goats, and deer) reduces this and other plant species’ ranges which are already often quite miniscule. For example the plant pictured here, Trematolobelia kaalae, is only found in the Mt. Ka‘ala area of O‘ahu and nowhere else on Earth. The negative impacts do not stop here; fewer plants mean less food for the Honeycreepers. Weak birds fall prey to avian malaria which is decimating their populations at an alarming rate that will only accelerate due to global climate change. As temperatures increase, mosquito populations which carry the parasite can move farther up mountains and into these birds’ stronghold. Though this image depicts death it symbolizes the hope for survival of this fascinating plant.

 

Submission #28
Title: Summer Snowflake
Author: Sarah Allen
Institution: University of Florida
Department: Department of Biology
Family: Ranunculaceae
Taxon: Nigella sp.
Common Name: love-in-a-mist or fennel flower
Season/time of year: late May
Area: US National Arboretum
State/Province: Washington, D.C. Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Taken with a Canon PowerShot SD1100.

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Caption: Nigella sp. (Ranunculaceae) growing the herb garden of the US National Arboretum.
Scientific Description/Explanation: This eudicot flower was photographed on a wet morning at the National Arboretum, Washington, D.C in late May. It is either Nigella damascena L. or Nigella sativa L. (Ranunculaceae Juss.). Species of Nigella are annuals characterized by finely dissected leaves. Nigella has been cultivated for thousands of years and is used ornamentally. In addition, the seeds or extracts from the seeds are sometimes used for culinary or medicinal purposes.

 

Submission #29
Title: Cryptic Dioecy
Author: Tara Caton
Institution: Bucknell University
Department: Biology
Family: Solananceae
Taxon: Solanum asymmetriphyllum
Common Name: Australian Bush Tomato
Season/time of year: July 23, 2014 (Summer)
Area: Bucknell University Research Greenhouse / One Dent Drive, Lewisburg
State/Province: PA Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information:

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Caption: Solanum asymmetriphyllum is a dioecious species with female flowers that exhibit what is referred to as "cryptic dioecy".
Scientific Description/Explanation: Botanical discipline: Plant Systematics, Evolution, and Ecology. This is a picture of a female flower of Solanum asymmetriphyllum, Australian Bush Tomato, which was flowering in the Research Greenhouse at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. This plant, along with many other Solanum species, is grown in this greenhouse for the research of Botanist Dr. Christopher Martine and students. A few of the spiny Solanum species from Australia that he studies exhibit what he calls "cryptic dioecy". This is where there are plant species that are functionally dioecious, meaning there are separate male and female plants, but the female flowers contain both male and female sex organs. A focus of his research is to understand the plant-pollinator relationship associated with this species and others like it, and how producing female flowers with sterile male organs play a role in this relationship.

 

Submission #30
Title: Growing Among the Leaves
Author: Kendal Davis
Institution: Delta State University
Department: Department of Biological Sciences
Family: Sarcosomataceae
Taxon: Urnula craterium
Common Name: Devil's Urn
Season/time of year: Spring
Area: Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge
State/Province: Mississippi Country: United States
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: iphone 6 camera

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Caption: Fungus known as Devil's Urn growing in Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge.
Scientific Description/Explanation: This is photo was taken in Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Cleveland, Mississippi. The Refuge is the largest remaining tract of bottomland hardwood forested wetland in the northwest portion of Mississippi. The Urnula craterium is a cup fungus of the Sarcosomataceae family that is parasitic to oaks and various other hardwoods, which are abundant in Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge. It appears in early spring and has a goblet like and dark like fruiting bodies, which are the spore producing part of the fungus. These fruiting bodies develop on dead wood after it has fallen to the ground.

 

Submission #31
Title: Butterfly Blue
Author: Lauren Gonzalez
Institution: University of Florida
Department: Florida Museum of Natural History
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Taxon: Scabiosa
Common Name: Butterfly Blue
Season/time of year: Spring
Area: Gainesville
State/Province: Florida Country: United States
Longitude: 29.6520Latitude: 82.3250
Additional Information: Canon

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Caption: Pollinator's best friend
Scientific Description/Explanation: This plant is a cultivar of the genus Scabiosa, a member of the honey suckle family (Caprifoliaceae). These inflorescences contain many small flowers, filled eith nectar. They are a favorite of pollinators, especially bees right now. It's a beautiful plant to remind us that Spring is here.

 

Submission #32
Title: Close up carnivory
Author: Lauren Gonzalez
Institution: University of Florida
Department: Florida Museum of Natural History
Family: Droseraceae
Taxon: Drosera
Common Name: Sundew
Season/time of year: Spring
Area: Gainesville
State/Province: Florida Country: United States
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Canon Powershot

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Caption: A macro look at a carnivorous plant
Scientific Description/Explanation: This plant is a member of the genus Drosera (Droseraceae), also known as a Sundew. These carnivorous plants capture insects with mucilanginous glands that cover their leave surfaces. These little plants are found in soils that are nutrient poor. They digest the insects that get stuck in their sticky mucilage for nutrients. Besides having such an interesting adaptation for their environment, they're also quite pretty to look at. Their common name, Sundew, comes from the fact that the drops of mucilage glisten in the sun, like dew drops.

 

Submission #33
Title: Aerial Root Tubers
Author: Tara Caton
Institution: Bucknell University
Department: Biology
Family: Asparagaceae
Taxon: Asparagus aethiopicus ‘Meyeri’ L.
Common Name: Asparagus fern or Foxtail fern
Season/time of year: Spring 2015
Area: Bucknell University Research Greenhouse/One Dent Drive, Lewsiburg
State/Province: PA Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information:

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Caption: This picture captures various dimensions of this beautiful plant including the exquisitely dissected and flattened leaf-like stems, also referred to as cladophylls, which are arranged in dense clusters and the unique aerial roots that uptake water and nutrients from the air and store them in the tuberous structures.
Scientific Description/Explanation: Asparagus Fern is a common houseplant originating from South Africa that thrives in warm, moist environments. One of its specialized characteristics is that it contains aerial roots with tuberous tissues, as shown in the picture. Aerial roots are aboveground roots that uptake water and nutrients from the air. This plant uses its aerial roots to absorb water and nutrients, and store them in its tuberous structures, which can be removed from the mother plant and used to propagate new plants. Because of its popularity as a houseplant and the ease at which new plants can be propagated from existing plants, it has spread rapidly and has been classified as a weed in Hawaii, Florida, and New Zealand.

 

Submission #34
Title: Claytonia virginia Open Stigma
Author: Hannah Best
Institution: Maryville University
Department: Biology
Family: Portulacaceae
Taxon: C. virginica
Common Name: Virginia Spring Beauty
Season/time of year: Early Spring/March-May
Area: Shaw Nature Reserve
State/Province: Missouri Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: Taken with a fluorescent scope

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Caption: This is an image of a C. virginica stigma viewed under a fluorescent scope that had been collected and mounted on a slide with dye. It had not been pollinated at the time of collection so there is no pollen in the picture
Scientific Description/Explanation: Claytonia virginica (Virginia Spring Beauty) is one of Missouri’s native flowers. It is from the Family Portulacaease. It blooms March-May and each flower only stays open for three days, making them slightly more difficult to treat than some other species of flowers our lab works with. This image is of an open treatment, meaning it was picked from the field and nothing was done with it before collection. We do other treatments that involve hand pollinations such as Cross (pollen from another flower), Geitonogamy (pollen from another flower on the same plant), and Self (pollen from the same flower). This image is interesting because the bees and other pollinators happened to miss it without our interference. These flowers are only open for a short window of time, yet this particular flower was never pollinated. Could this mean that there are not enough pollinators to cover the vast range of flowers in this population? Is this plant pollen limited, meaning it does not meet its pollination and reproductive potential? We do not know. These are questions this stigma caused us to ask and we aim to find out more about this species and its pollinators. And, as a side note, this image is beautiful because the stigmas are usually crushed when we mount them on slides. This one is nearly perfectly intact.

 

Submission #35
Title: Andean lady's mantle
Author: Diego Morales-Briones
Institution: University of Idaho
Department: Department of Biological Sciences
Family: Rosaceae
Taxon: Lachemilla orbiculata
Common Name:
Season/time of year:
Area: Santurario de Flora y Fauna Galeras
State/Province: Narino Country: Colombia
Longitude: 77.39138 WLatitude: 1.21111 N
Additional Information:

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Caption: Leaves of Lachemilla orbiculata after the rain.
Scientific Description/Explanation: Lachemilla is a Neotropical genus that is especially diverse in the high elevations of the Northern Andes. These plants have a big array of shapes and life forms and the principal character to identify the different species is the leaf shape. Lachemilla is one of the most important and rich groups of plants in the Andean paramos where they form dense stands and together with other plants are natural reservoirs of water.

 

Submission #36
Title: A Rare Spore
Author: Kendal Davis
Institution: Delta State University
Department: Department of Biological Sciences
Family: Filicales Incertae Sedis
Taxon: Rotverrusporites major
Common Name:
Season/time of year:
Area: Kit Carson Cave
State/Province: New Mexico Country: United States
Longitude: -108.5892389Latitude: 35.55925
Additional Information: Taken on Q-color 3 Olympus at 100x under oil, with the program

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Caption: An unusual spore from the Kit Carson Cave, New Mexico
Scientific Description/Explanation: Rotverrusporites major is a trilete spore from the Jurassic Morrison Formation, a formation that is known for its rich dinosaur fauna. This is a usually rare spore from this time period that is highly ornamented, and the body has bumpy sculpturing known as Verrucae.

 

Submission #37
Title: Matelea chihuahuensis
Author: Angela McDonnell
Institution: Oklahoma State University
Department: Botany
Family: Gentianales, Apocynaceae, Asclepiadoideae, Gonolobinae
Taxon: Matelea chihuahuensis
Common Name: Chihuahuan Hairy Milkvine
Season/time of year: Fall
Area: Stillwater
State/Province: OK Country: United States
Longitude: -108.845865°Latitude: 31.460073°
Additional Information: Olympus® SZX10 dissecting microscope outfitted with an Olympus® SC30 CMOS color camera

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Caption: Flower of Matelea chihuahuensis grown at Oklahoma State University from seeds collected in Hidalgo County, New Mexico.
Scientific Description/Explanation: Matelea chihuahuensis, or the Chihuahuan Hairy Milkvine, is a species of milkweed that has historically only been known from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is an uncommon but rather interesting perennial herb with small green flowers, large bumpy follicle fruits, intensely hairy leaves, and stems that lay flat on the ground. This photograph shows the flower of this plant. It has white petals with green striations and a few other floral structures that distinguish this plant as a milkweed; the corona and the gynostegium. The fuzzy-looking translucent white parts are the corona, or extra petal-like appendages. These overtop what is known as the gynostegium, which includes both male and female reproductive structures and is visible through the corona as a pink and white structure. M. chihuahuensis grows from a thickened taproot in rocky soils. Its frequency of flowering is likely correlated with summer rains, as it is for many species that grow in drylands. Pollinators or other fauna that might interact with M. chihuahuensis are currently unknown. In 2014 this plant was found in the bootheel of New Mexico in Hidalgo County, making it a new addition to the floras of New Mexico and the United States.

 

Submission #38
Title: The unusual stomatal apparatus of Stangeria reveals a familiar tale
Author: Mario Coiro
Institution: ETH Zurich
Department: Department of Biology
Family: Cycadales
Taxon: Stangeria eriopus
Common Name: Natal Grass cycad
Season/time of year:
Area:
State/Province: Country:
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: The leaf sample was treated using a modified Propidium Iodide Pseudo-Schiff staining used by Arabidopsis biologists. The image was taken using a Zeiss LSM 780, with a 440 nm diode laser.

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Caption: The unusual stomatal apparatus of Stangeria, a peculiar cycad, presents shared characters with the Zamiaceae
Scientific Description/Explanation: The cycad Stangeria eriopus presents many peculiarities with respect to its closest relatives. It was first described as a fern, mainly because of the unique morphology of its leaves which reminds of members of Marattia or Angiopteris. Even after its re-description as a member of the cycadales, the relationships of this genus with the other species of the cycads have been poorly understood, with a separate family erected to accommodate the uniqueness of Stangeria. Cuticular and epidermal characters have always been used as a taxonomic and systematic tool in the Cycadales since the beginning of the twenthiet century. However, the uniqueness of Stangeria is reflected also on its epidermis, which presents characters that are very unusual in the cycadales, like superficial stomata and undulating epidermal cell walls. Here we used a pseudo-Schiff staining, usually employed in molecular biology to examine the anatomy of the model plant Arabidopsis, to reveal the structure of the stomatal apparatus in Stangeria with great detail. Our analysis shows that the peculiarities of this genus are expressed in a typical cycadalean background. This image, which represents a single optical section obtained using confocal laser scanning microscopy, clearly shows the presence of polar and lateral subsidiary cells, which differentiate from the other pavement cells and mantain straight, non undulating walls. The presence of two series of lateral cells is typical of most of the stomatal complexes in the Zamiaceae. This data are in agreement with the more recent position of Stangeria as a close relative of Ceratozamia, Mycrocycas and Zamia.

 

Submission #39
Title: Unknown Structure on Unnamed Variety of Metrosideros Polymorpha
Author: Gary Sur
Institution: University of Hawaii at Hilo
Department: Biology
Family: Myrtaceae
Taxon: Metrosideros polymorpha
Common Name: Ohia Lehua
Season/time of year: August
Area: Koolau Mountain Range
State/Province: Hawaii Country: USA
Longitude: Latitude:
Additional Information: SEM (Hitachi S3400N), 350x magnification, cold stage: -15 degrees Celsius, variable pressure: 30 pascals.

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Caption: Unidentified crater-like structures on the underside of a glabrous leaf of an unnamed variety of M. polymorpha. The smaller circular structures are leaf stomata.
Scientific Description/Explanation: True to the species' name, Metrosideros polymorpha exhibits many different phenotypic forms across many terrestrial environments. From near the seashore to the mountaintops, there exists many varieties of this species, and some possess unique characteristics that easily separates them from the others. Such is the case with this unnamed variety with the presence of these large, unidentified structures that surround the smaller leaf stomata. These unknown structures have only been observed on this and another unnamed variety on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu, and on M. polymorpha var. dieterii from the nearby island of Kaua'i. As three taxa develop glabrous epidermal leaf-surfaces, trichomes may be ruled out as a likely source. Despite conducting a comprehensive review of the literature, efforts to conclusively classify and determine the functionality of the unknown structures remain elusive. Hypothetically, these structures may be stomatal crypts, hydathodes, or oil glands.

 

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