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  2008 MBC News Archive




Nypa fruticans inflorescences at Montgomery Botanical Center

December 15, 2008

The Villagers Publish New Cookbook Featuring MBC

The Villagers just came out with their second cookbook, Cook It Like A Native! , which showcases Montgomery Botanical Center in three lovely photographs.  The Villagers have funded various restoration projects for Montgomery Botanical Center’s 1930s buildings.  The latest grant funded helped restore the Arthur Montgomery Guest House. 

In the 1937 sketch, the second image depicts the guesthouse.  In the sketch architect Robert Fitch Smith signs, “The happiest task I have ever had”.

The Villagers new cookbook states, “At Montgomery Botanical Center, former home of Robert Montgomery, founder of Fairchild Tropical Garden, Villager grants funded the installation of air-conditioning systems in the main house and restoration of the guesthouse.” 

We thank the Villagers for their continued support in helping us preserve and restore these two buildings while these buildings continue to serve the vital mission and operations of Montgomery Botanical Center.

December 12, 2008

Cal Welbourn and Patti Anderson Visit MBC to discuss Red Palm Mite and their Hosts

Dr. Cal Welbourn and Dr. Patti Anderson from the Division ofRaoiella indica in Florida- One Year Later”.  The red palm mite was first detected in the United States in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on November 29, 2007.  Since then, it has been spreading down through Broward and Miami-Dade County.  This pest of coconut and other palms appears to be spreading very quickly.  Cal stated, “at this point the best control method is to simply refrain from spraying pesticides.  Allowing the red palm mite’s predators to thrive may be the best method of control.”

Cal and Patti are working on an interactive digital key, where mites and their host plants can be identified through characteristics and images. of palms in a relatively small area to survey.  Without going out of the country there is not another place to go to survey all these palms in one place”, said Cal. 

Montgomery Botanical Center is honored to have had the Division of Plant Industry visit MBC to survey our collection.  Collaborating with government agencies to research palm pests benefits all South Florida Palm owners.

December 4, 2008

Russian scientists study MBC palm collections

Scientists from the Russian Academy of Science and Moscow State University were recently hosted at Montgomery Botanical Center while studying the living palm collections. Dr. Mikhail Romanov, Dr. Alexy Bobrov, and two colleagues stayed in the Arthur Montgomery Guest House and collected palm fruits for anatomy and developmental studies.

 Dr. Romanov presented a lecture titled Fruit type and putamen structure in Borassoid palms (Arecaceae-Coryphoideae), which was attended by a number of plant Monocots IV in Copenhagen.

Following the lecture, Dr. Romanov and his colleagues discussed terminology and technique with the attendees. MBC Executive Director Dr. Patrick Griffith stated,  “I was very happy to have so many anatomists here for the lecture; facilitating an informal discussion between American and Russian experts helps advance our understanding of plant development.”

While here, our colleagues from Russia highlighted the value of living botanical collections, noting that developmental studies of this type are made possible through well curated live collections.

December 1, 2008

Fall/Winter 2008 Montgomery Botanical Newsletter Available Online

The Montgomery Botanical News Fall/Winter 2008 issue is now available   This new issue has an article by Larry Noblick  about exploring for new palm species in Brazil (see page 4) and an article by Montgomery Fellow Cristina Lopez-Gallego on her research on tropical zamia in Colombia (see page 5) along with many other articles on research, horticulture practices, and landscape design.  

November 14, 2008

 MBC International Fieldwork and Collaboration Policy

The Board of Directors of MBC unanimously adopted the MBC International Fieldwork and Collaboration Policy at the November Directors Meeting.

For decades, MBC has conducted international research and conservation fieldwork in an ethical and collaborative manner, and has been a leading institution in requiring rigorous permitting for plant material added to the scientific collections. This policy document solidifies and codifies the ethic that MBC operates under.

This policy was authored by Chad Husby and Patrick Griffith, and unanimously adopted by the Directors on November 14, 2008.

November 10, 2008

Genera Palmarum -- Landmark volume on Palms published

A copy of Genera Palmarum, the much anticipated volume on palm evolution and classification was recently gifted to Montgomery Botanical Center by the authors.
Genera Palmarum gives an encyclopedic account of the 183 genera comprising the palm family.  The 2008 edition has the most up to date palm classification based on phylogenetic research and is available from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew or the International Palm SocietyGenera Palmarum, Dr. Dransfield’s latest book, is co-authored with other prominent palm researchers including Dr. Carl Lewis of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Dr. John Dransfield of Kew and Dr. Natalie Uhl of Cornell have made extensive use of MBC palm collections.  The authors write:
“Throughout our work on palms, we have been given generous access to the many of the best living collections in botanic gardens throughout the world, allowing us to make direct observations of living palms and to collect material for micromorphological and molecular studies. We make special mention of the unparalleled facilities provided by the Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC), Miami. From 1997, JD and NWU visited Miami annually for seven years in a row, making ourselves at home in the MBC guest house and making extensive use of the fantastic palm collections at the MBC and the neighbouring Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. We often received visits from the remaining coauthors and we are left with many happy memories of those times, of the camaraderie engendered by our meetings, and of the concentrated peace and quiet in which we were able to discuss and develop ideas on palm morphology.”
Genera Palmarum includes many photographs taken during John’s time at MBC; Nypa fruticans, Zombia antillarum, Coccothrinax miraguama, and Cryosophila stauracantha are some of the many MBC collections featured in the book.

October  23, 2008

Michael Calonje gives talk on Zamia prasina at MBC

Michael Calonje, cycad biologist at Montgomery Botanical Center, gave a talk last Thursday titled, "Searching for Zamia prasina - A journey to remote sinkholes in the Maya Mountains of Belize".  Michael discussed his journey through Belize and the different and distinct habitats of Zamia prasina that he encountered.

October 17, 2008

Organization for Tropical Studies visits Montgomery Botanical Center

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) recently celebrated its 45th anniversary in South Florida.  Montgomery Botanical Center hosted a luncheon at Nell's House for the OTS Boards, and gave a tour of the living plant collections. 
There is significant overlap between the missions of OTS and MBC. Tracy Magellan and Michael Calonje of MBC have both conducted tropical research at OTS facilities in Costa Rica. The Miami meeting
of OTS was coordinated by Christiane Tyson, MBC Honorary Member. The Kampong, The Gifford Arboretum, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden also participated in the meeting. Montgomery Botanical Center looks forward to continued advancement of tropical botany through collaboration with the OTS. 
The OTS, headquartered at Duke University, is a non-profit international consortium of universities and research institutes dedicated to strengthening education, research and rational use of natural resources in the tropics. Its member institutions are throughout the United States, Latin America, South Africa and Australia.

October 15, 2008

Montgomery Botanical Center plant collections prominently featured in new book

In 2007, Cédric Pollet spent two weeks at Montgomery Botanical Center.  During his time at MBC, he took thirteen photos that were prominently featured in ten pages of his new book, Écorces: Voyage dans l’intimité des arbres du monde.  Interesting and unusual plant bark is the subject of the book. 

A variety of MBC collections were featured including Bursera simaruba (Gumbo limbo), Sabal mauritiformis, Roystonea regia (Royal Palm), Coccothrinax argentata, and Pseudobombax ellipticum (photo).  The book is an artistic piece that can be appreciated by all.  Published in French, each photograph is also accompanied by the plant’s scientific name.  The photos show a high level of detail of this often overlooked botanical feature. 

Cedric’s ongoing projects can be seen at www.artsylva.com.

October 2, 2008

Dr. Cristina Lopez-Gallego: Population Biology of Cycads in Colombia

Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow Cristina Lopez-Gallego, from the Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia, recently gave a seminar on cycad research in Colombia.

With many neotropical cycads (zamias included) critically endangered, more information on cycad biology is needed to support cycad conservation efforts.  Cristina's research seeks to provide detailed data on population biology to develop informed conservation strategies for cycads. She is working with the IUCN-SSC Cycad Specialist Group on a network of cycad population monitoring programs to generate relevant and high-quality biological information for conservation and for evaluating potential management and use strategies. 

There are few pristine habitats left in Colombia, due to the many areas disturbed by agriculture and development.  With only 40% of habitats worldwide being primary forest, that leaves over 60% of habitats worldwide in a degraded state.  Disturbed habitats are very different from primary forests; the high light conditions of the degraded lands appear to be affecting the life history of zamias, essentially speeding up their life history.  Zamia fairchildiana in disturbed habitats are quicker to put out new leaves and seed than their counterparts in undisturbed forest lands.  Cristina's research on  Zamia fairchildiana in Costa Rica suggests that environmental changes caused by habitat degradation can considerably affect the life-history of populations.  She is developing research to evaluate the effects of these life-history changes on the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of cycad populations in Costa Rica and Colombia. 

Cristina’s current research is being done in the heavily disturbed Tropical Andes region as well as the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena region of Colombia, both known biodiversity hotspots.

September 26, 2008

Belize 2008 Cycad Projects

MBC led international cycad research efforts in Belize in August and September of 2008. The expedition was conducted in two parts. The first leg of the expedition, which was generously funded by Tim Gregory, focused on Ceratozamia robusta. The second portion, funded by the Association of Zoological Horticulture, surveyed native Zamia prasina populations in Belize, obtaining valuable phytogeographic, botanical, and demographic data.

The project represented direct collaboration between Montgomery Botanical Center, Green Hills Botanical Collections, Belize, Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas, Mexico, and local c
ollaborators in Toledo District, Belize. Germplasm for ex situ horticultural conservation was obtained, and voucher specimens were deposited in Belize and in the United States.

September 20, 2008

   Don Ellison visits MBC to give a talk for the
Tropical Flowering Tree Society

Don Ellison, co-author of Cultivated Palms of the World and Australian horticulturist, gave a lecture on the flowering trees of Australia and their potential for import to the United States.  The Tropical Flowering Tree Society and the South Florida Palm Society attended the lecture.  After discussing flowering trees, Don gave a short presentation on a palm expedition just completed by Michael D. Ferrero.  Upon completion of the lecture, a tour of Montgomery Botanical Center was given.

Montgomery Botanical Center holds one of the most important tropical palm collections in the world. A large number of rare palms and flowering trees are grown on site.  MBC is pleased to have hosted another visit from an Internationally renowned expert -- Our interest in international scientific collaborations has been historic and persistent throughout our 49 years. 

August 6, 2008

Dr. Alan Meerow Presents Palm Research using MBC Collections

Dr. Alan Meerow, Research Geneticist at Chapman Field (USDA-ARS-SHRS) gave a public lecture at MBC on Wednesday, August 6, titled, Phylogeny of Cocoseae subtribe Attaleinae (Areceaceae) based on eight WRKY transcription factor loci. Dr. Meerow’s work involves a large number of specimens from the MBC palm collections, including Syagrus, Attalea, Butia, and related genera. Alan spoke about how these palms are related, based on his innovative DNA-based research. Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist, is among the coauthors on the study, which will be included in the Proceedings of Monocots IV.

The Board of Directors of MBC has recognized Dr. Meerow as an MBC Honorary Member for his frequent collaboration and assistance with MBC’s botanical research and horticulture. Alan has participated in joint expeditions with the MBC Team, and advised and consulted on planting and scientific projects.

This ongoing collaboration has its roots in the colleagueship of Col. Robert Montgomery and Dr. David Fairchild, and the plant collections they founded at MBC and Chapman Field. MBC looks forward to continued collaborative advances in botany.

August 1, 2008

MBC Study of Palm Evolution and Hurricanes Published

A study of how palms are affected by high winds was recently published in Annals of Botany. This work describes patterns of variation in palms' tolerance for high winds, and natural selection for wind tolerance. An online version of the study can be found on the Oxford Journals website.

The study provides evidence that palms’ tolerance to high winds shows some variation according to where they are native. Palms from the Caribbean are more tolerant of hurricane force winds than South American palms, as the Caribbean has seen frequent hurricanes for several millenia.

Beyond the scientific findings, the study also shows one of the many ways in which live conservation collections inform the plant sciences. The generous support of the Kelly Foundation, through the Montgomery Botanical Research Fellows Program, made this work possible.

July 31, 2008

Montgomery Botanical at Botany 2008

Montgomery Botanical Center’s research in palms and cycads was recently presented at Botany 2008, the annual conference of the Botanical Society of America and other plant science associations. Dr. Patrick Griffith, Executive Director, presented two talks at the meeting. Both research projects were accomplished through collaboration with other botanic gardens.

The first talk, Ex situ conservation efficacy: a study of Leucothrinax morrisii, presented an assessment of MBC collections development protocols, using new DNA data. This first DNA-based assessment of the Palm Collections found that MBC protocols succeed in capturing significant genetic diversity. This project was generously funded by the International Palm Society, and the work was performed in partnership with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

A second talk on cycad phenology and phylogeny organized and investigated MBC collections data in the context of how plants are related. This project represents collaboration with The New York Botanical Garden, made possible by the generous support of the Kelly Foundation.

This conference was held in conjunction with The Canadian Botanical Association in Vancouver, British Columbia, and had the theme of ‘Botany without Borders.’ Montgomery Botanical’s broad international conservation partnerships echo that theme.

July 23, 2008

Ian Cole presents lecture on Wollemi Pine and Nypa research

Ian Cole, recent M.Sc. Graduate in Phytochemistry at UBC, is in residence at MBC this summer, studying Montgomery Botanical's Nypa collections. Ian is the recipient of a 2008 Montgomery Fellowship for Early Career Botanists. By using the live scientific collections of Nypa at MBC, Ian is able to bridge the areas of ethnobotanical evidence and quantitative phytochemistry. While here, Ian presented a narrative of the recent introduction of Wollemi Pine into North America, and basic research on Wollemia at UBC.

 Ian writes: "The Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis), has been the subject of curiosity, fascination, delight and even some ridicule ever since its discovery in 1994 and eventual release on the open market.  This tree is truly unique not only because it was believed to be extinct and exist only in the fossil record, but also because it is one of the first international projects to use horticultural distribution of a plant to fund Conservation. In May 2008, an experimental Wollemi forest was planted in British Columbia, Canada, to allow for realistic experimentation, and to answer many questions of this species.  Growing conditions in the field can be greatly different than those within a botanical garden or arboretum."

Ian has been an MBC Research Associate since 2006, and has frequently used the plant collections here for his research. The Montgomery Fellows Program is generously supported by the Kelly Foundation.

July 17, 2008

Dr. John Dowe, Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow

Dr. John Dowe, Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow, presented a lecture on the Palms of the Wet Tropics Bioregion of Australia, on July 17.

Although Australia is the driest continent on earth, with an average continent-wide rainfall of only 165 mm (6”), there are some areas that receive relatively large amounts of rainfall annually because of topographical characteristics. These areas are often biodiversity hotspots. The ‘Wet Tropics Bioregion’ is situated on the north-east coast of Queensland, centred on 16° S latitude, and the annual rainfall ranges from 1600 mm (63”) to 7000 mm (276”). Although the WTB covers only 4.2% of Australia’s land surface area, it contains about 17% of the continent’s floristic diversity. Some 24 palms species occur in the WTB: of these 10 are endemic to the Bioregion. Dr. Dowe's presentation discussed the biophysical factors that control the environment in the WTB, and examined the identification, distribution and ecology of the 24 palm species occurring there.

Dr. Dowe is in residence at MBC this summer, studying biogeographic variation in palms, especially with regard to elevation, using MBC's database and living collections. Dr. Dowe and  Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist, also studied geographic variation in native Sabal palms.

The Montgomery Botanical Fellows Program encourages scientific and educational study of MBC's palm and cycad collections, linking distinguished scientists and their work with other scientists, educators, students, and the community. The Montgomery Botanical Fellows Program is generously supported by the Kelly Foundation.

June 27, 2008

Montgomery Botanical Center at APGA 2008

The Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) team participated in many aspects of the 2008 American Public Gardens Association (APGA) Conference in Pasadena, California.

Chad Husby organized and spoke at a session on challenges in plant collection and exchange for botanical gardens in the 21st century. This session also included Professor Sabrina Safrin of Rutgers University School of Law, Dr. Jim Folsom, Director of Gardens at The Huntington, and was moderated by Dr. Patrick Griffith of MBC.

Jeff Shimonski, MBC Honorary Member, was an invited speaker for a session titled: Doing the right thing: Sustainable Practice as evidence of the mission.

Chad and Patrick also represented MBC at the NAPCC members' forum. Montgomery Botanical's Palm Collection and Cycad Collection were recently recognized as nationally important collections by the NAPCC. Discussions of multi-garden coordinated efforts at palm and cycad curation were held.

As a member of the APGA's Program Selection Committee, Patrick also participated in organizing the topics for the conference, and was also responsible for moderating a multi-speaker session on advancement and development at botanic gardens.

"MBC's connectivity and collaboration within the botanic garden community is becoming more apparent," stated Patrick. "The presentations by Chad and Jeff demonstrate areas in which MBC has a leading role. The MBC mission is based on plant collections, and MBC operations are based on sustainability. Both are fundamental to botanic gardens."

May 30, 2008

MBC Cycad Biologist Returns from Successful
Cycad Fieldwork and Conference in China

From May 13 through May 29, Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) cycad biologist, Michael Calonje, traveled extensively in China during a cycad conservation conference and study tour organized by Willie and Limei Tang. Michael visited and studied native populations of Cycas sexseminifera, C. ferruginea, C. segmentifida, and C. debaoensis.

Because of his GIS expertise, Michael was called upon to assist in a GPS and data-collecting survey of Cycas debaoensis plants at the type locality. Using the data collected, an accurate base map will be prepared -- as part of a cycad conservation project -- to aid the forestry department in managing the population.

Michael presented Ex situ Cycad Conservation at Montgomery Botanical Center at The International Symposium on Cycad Conservation at Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering, Guangzhou, detailing the critical role MBC's ex situ conservation program plays in preserving cycads. Zhongkai University, the IUCN Cycad Specialist Group, the Cycad Society of China, Wutonshan Scenic Spot Administrative Office, and Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden sponsored the symposium. Michael also gave the presentation at Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden.

While in China, Michael visited the South China Botanical Garden, Dighushan Arboretum, the cycad garden at Qing Xiu Shan Park, and Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden.

During this comprehensive trip, Michael met many Chinese cycad researchers and students, building future collaborative opportunities.

April 29, 2008

Spring/Summer 2008 Montgomery Botanical Newsletter Available Online

For expanded coverage of Montgomery Botanical Center's expeditions, research, and conservation efforts, please see Montgomery Botanical News Spring/Summer 2008.

April 26, 2008

Montgomery Botanical Center Palm Material in National Arboretum Exhibit

Montgomery Botanical Center contributed palm foliage and fruits to The U.S. National Arboretum for use in their South African Plants Used in Traditional Zulu Culture exhibit. The Zulu use the dried leaves of Hyphaene coriacea to weave baskets and watertight containers; its fruits are used for carvings and jewelry.

Montgomery Botanical's tradition of providing plant material for exhibits dates back to the 1939 New York World's Fair, where much of the palm material for Fairchild Tropical Garden's plant display was shipped from Colonel Montgomery's Coconut Grove Palmetum. Tropical plant displays have long been a curiosity in more temperate reaches and make an important contribution to education.

April 23, 2008

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and MBC Collaboration Continues

Martin Gardner, coordinator of the International Conifer Conservation Programme (ICCP) of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) visited Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) with RBGETorreya taxifolia and Taxus floridana.
glasshouse supervisor Fiona Inches. While here, they studied several native U.S. conifer habitats in the southeast including Torreya State Park, home of the critically endangered

The visit was part  of ongoing collaborative efforts among RBGE, MBC, and Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) to further conservation of warm climate conifers. Last October, Chad Husby, MBC collections manager, and Ron Determann of ABG traveled to Edinburgh to exchange tropical conifer propagating material. That project was funded by a USDA Germplasm Exchange grant.

While at MBC, Martin Gardner presented a seminar on the tropical conifer conservation work of RBGE's International Conservation Programme. He shared photos and information about the ICCP's efforts to improve the conservation status of threatened conifers, including extensive work in New Caledonia, Vietnam, and Chile.

April 18, 2008

Dr. Donald Hodel Studies Montgomery Botanical's Sabal Species

Dr. Donald Hodel, University of California, Davis, studied Montgomery Botanical Center's (MBC) wild-collected Sabal species in an effort to help identify the Sabal species being cultivated in California.

While at MBC, Dr. Hodel presented an update of his research on Pritchardia palms, including their distribution, ecology, and conservation status. He presented illustrated profiles of 26 Pritchardia species.

April 15, 2008

Paul Drummond Fund for Palm Conservation Grows

With a very generous gift from Jeff Shimonski, the Paul Drummond Fund continues to grow. Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) has earmarked this fund for palm conservation work via expeditionary fieldwork to collect palm germplasm. The Fund honors the life and work of Paul Drummond, past president of the International Palm Society and lifelong palm enthusiast. Mr.  Drummond passed away in September 2007; this recent gift was made in remembrance of his birthday.

April 11, 2008

MBC Material Used in NSF Botanical Research Project

Dr. Sarah Matthews of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard
University, along with postdoctoral fellows Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum and Dr. Hardeep Rai, collected samples from 80 taxa in MBC's tropical conifer collection for DNA analysis.  This collection constitutes a significant contribution to the Gymnosperms on the Tree of Life project,  funded by the National Science Foundation.  During her time at MBC, Dr. Matthews expressed her appreciation of the great value of ex situ collections for fundamental botanical research, emphasizing that work such as the Tree of Life project would not be feasible without such collections.

Dr. Matthews’ sampling follows another very large contribution to the Gymnosperm Tree of Life by MBC's Cycad Collection, through the work of Drs. Dennis Stevenson and Damon Little.  MBC's Palm Collection is slated to make a large contribution towards construction of the monocot branch of the Tree of Life in the coming months.

March 27, 2008

Montgomery Botanical Center Hosts Environmental  Education Day

Montgomery Botanical Center hosted students from John A. Ferguson Senior High School as part of The Fairchild Challenge. Please see our Education page for more on this Environmental Immersion Day.

March 20, 2008

Montgomery Botanical Center Co-Sponsors 20th Gifford Arboretum Lecture

Julie S. Denslow, research ecologist and team leader for the Institute of Pacific Island Forestry, USDA Forest Service, presented Weeds in Paradise: Invasive Plants in the Pacific Islands at the University of Miami. The 20th Gifford Arboretum Lecture was part of the Coalition for Excellence in Tropical Botany (CETroB) lecture series. Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) hosted Dr. Denslow in the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse.

"Dr. Denslow's research on invasive plants is of great importance for botanical conservation," states Dr. Patrick Griffith, MBC executive director. "MBC recently completed a cycad conservation expedition on Guam and Rota and a palm conservation expedition in the Hawaiian Archipelago -- invasive species biology has a role in each of these Pacific Island conservation concerns."

The Gifford Arboretum celebrated its restoration this year, with a special rededication of the Arboretum collections following the extensive recovery work required after the 2005 hurricane season. With funding from the IMLS, John Cozza, Aldridge Curator at the Gifford Arboretum, developed and implemented a new master plan designed to maximize the educational and research use of the Arboretum collections.

March 15-16, 2008

Montgomery Botanical Hosts South Florida Palm Society Sale

For a second year, Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) hosted the South Florida Palm Society's spring sale. Close to 30 vendors offered over 500 species and varieties of palms for sale during the weekend event. Motorized tours of Montgomery Botanical's grounds were available for visitors interested in learning about MBC's palm and cycad research collections.

"MBC was pleased to, once again, host the South Florida Palm Society sale," said Dr. Patrick Griffith, MBC executive director. "We are also grateful for SFPS's continuing support of our palm conservation work." 

March 10, 2008

Montgomery Botanical Completes Successful Cycad Conservation Expedition

Montgomery Botanical Center's (MBC) cycad biologist, Michael Calonje, recently returned from aex situ conservation for Zamia fairchildiana and Z. cunaria (pictured). Mr. Calonje conducted a month-long expedition to the Chiriquí and Wargandí provinces of Panama. Supported by MBC's Zane B. Carothers Memorial Fund, the expedition helped advance phytogeographic understanding and

Successful collaboration with the University of Panama and the Kuna indigenous communities of Wargandí Province helped accomplish expedition objectives. Michael Calonje worked closely with Dr. Alberto Taylor, cycad researcher at the University of Panama and Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow.

A total of 733 seeds representing five species and 27 accessions of cycads and palms were collected. For additional expedition information, please see this report.

March 4, 2008

Turks & Caicos National Trust Visits MBC

The leadership of the Turks & Caicos National Trust is being hosted at Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) this week. Ethlyn Gibbs, executive director, and Bryan Naqqi Manco, senior conservation officer, are in south Florida following an international meeting on Pine Rockland conservation.

While at MBC, Ethlyn and Bryan met with the MBC staff to plan future collaborative conservation projects focusing on palms native to the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI). Comprised of many islands, rocks, and keys, TCI encompasses some of the largest uninhabited islands in the Caribbean. The Turks & Caicos National Trust seeks to safeguard the natural, historical, and cultural heritage of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Through collaboration with MBC, ex situ conservation collections can help advance this mission.

February 20, 2008

Dr. Andrew Henderson Presents New Palm Discoveries at Montgomery Botanical

Dr. Andrew Henderson, curator at the Institute for Systematic Botany at The New York Botanical Garden, has recently returned from a five-month field survey of palm diversity in Vietnam. While studying at Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) this week, Dr. Henderson presented a seminar on the palm diversity of Vietnam based on this fieldwork.

Working in collaboration with Dr. Ninh Khac Ban of The Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Dr. Henderson collected palm specimens from throughout Vietnam. The survey sought to also investigate the sustainability of rattan harvesting activities in Vietnam. This fieldwork discovered a great number of palm species new to science.

The large volume of new botanical discoveries from Dr. Henderson's fieldwork highlights the continuing ongoing need for basic phytogeographic research in many areas of the world. There remains a great deal of plant diversity yet to be described.

Dr. Henderson is a longtime collaborator of MBC, having spent several summers here performing detailed morphological studies. He is author of several books on the palm family, including Evolution and Ecology of Palms, and A Field Guide to the Palms of the Americas.

February 14, 2008

Pritchardia Conservation Project

A research and conservation project involving Montgomery Botanical Center and National Tropical Botanical Garden recently obtained specimens and data for conservation and research. The project focused on native Pritchardia populations. Pritchardia comprises some of the most imperiled palm species in the world.

Christine Bacon recently returned from her 30-day Pritchardia
research and conservation expedition in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Christine is a doctoral candidate at Colorado State University, McBryde Graduate Fellow of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and Montgomery Botanical Research Associate.

With generous funding from The Thomas S. Kenan Foundation, Inc., and logistical support from National Tropical Botanical Garden, Christine was able to conduct research at 11 field sites across five islands. The expedition resulted in valuable ex situ material of Pritchardia for Montgomery Botanical's palm collections.

For a detailed account of the project, please see this report.

January 19, 2008

Montgomery Botanical at Cycad 2008

Cycad 2008, the triennial scientific conference for cycad biology, was held in Panama City, Panama, January 12-18. Hosted by Universidad de Panamá (UP), Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) was honored to co-sponsor this important meeting in collaboration with other important research institutes and botanic gardens including The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) and The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The meeting also bridged the scientific and enthusiast communities through the participation of The Cycad Society.

Dr. Alberto Taylor, professor at UP, MBC research fellow, and conference chair, organized the conference and all related functions. Montgomery Botanical was well-represented among the diverse scientific and horticultural findings presented at the conference. Michael Calonje, MBC cycad biologist, presented a poster on his very recent phytogeographic research, highlighting new field data obtained in the days before the conference. Dr. Patrick Griffith, MBC executive director, gave a talk on MBC phenological data, coauthored by Dr. Damon Little and Dr. Dennis Stevenson of NYBG, with Michael Calonje and Chad Husby, MBC collections manager and botanist.

For more information regarding MBC's participation in Cycad 2008, please see this report.

January 10, 2008

Noted Cycad Scientist, Dr. John Donaldson, Visits MBC

Dr. John Donaldson, chief director of conservation science at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, visited Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) with his graduate student, Terence Suinyuy. While here, John and Terence discussed future research and conservation collaborations with MBC, and photographed the Encephalartos collections.

In a presentation, Pictures From The Edge, Dr. Donaldson shared his project photographing cycads -- some of which are now extinct -- "to inspire an appreciation of wild plants in wild places". Wild Portraits is a limited edition of prints from that project which supports cycad conservation; the IUCN Cycad Specialist Group receives a portion of the profits.

Larry Aronson, a longtime volunteer and friend of MBC, has very generously donated a complete set of those nine cycad prints to MBC. Montgomery Botanical plans to display the cycad portraits in the Nixon Smiley Meeting Room upon completion of the Room's renovation.

"I was very excited to bring Larry [Aronson] and John [Donaldson] together for this presentation," stated Dr. Patrick Griffith, MBC executive director. "Larry has been an incredibly dedicated volunteer here, and the prints he gifted to MBC are wonderful. Having John describe these beautiful prints in person was a unique opportunity."

January 8, 2008

Conifer Authority, Dr. David J. de Laubenfels, Studies
 Montgomery Botanical's Collections

Dr. David J. de Laubenfels, a renowned authority on conifers of the Southern Hemisphere and professor emeritus at Syracuse University, studied the cycad and tropical conifer collections at Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC).  Dr. de Laubenfels has described 100 species of conifers and is also an authority on the genus Cycas.

Working with Chad Husby, MBC collections manager and botanist, Dr. de Laubenfels helped with identifying MBC's conifers  and species within the genus Cycas. While here, Dr. de Laubenfels presented The Southern Hemisphere Conifers.

In the photo at left, Dr. de Laubenfels at MBC with Araucaria laubenfelsii, a species named after him which has been growing in MBC's collection for 20 years.

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