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2009 MBC News Archive


Emergent Cycas thouarsii leaf
Emergent Cycas thouarsii leaf

December 4, 2009

The Villagers Holiday House Tour brings nearly 700 visitors to MBC

Villagers Holiday House Tour December 4, 2009 Montgomery Botanical CenterAnnually, The Villagers pick a handful of houses to showcase on their Holiday House Tour.  This year, Nell’s House and the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse were chosen to participate.  The Villagers organized the event, which allowed nearly 700 visitors to tour six homes “Down Old Cutler Way.” 
Villagers Holiday House Tour December 4, 2009 Montgomery Botanical Center
The Villagers is an organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic sites.  They have supported numerous projects here at Montgomery Botanical Center.  The most recent project supported the restoration of the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse.Villagers Holiday House Tour Montgomery Botanical Center December 4, 2009.

Montgomery Botanical Center distributed an information sheet about MBC to all visitors on the Holiday House Tour.  Included in the document were interesting facts about MBC’s history and two Christmas Cards from the 1940s that Colonel Montgomery and Nell Montgomery sent to their friends. 

"Being on The Villagers tour exposed Montgomery Botanical Center to many local residents who previously had no knowledge of our organization. We are very grateful for The Villagers continued support,” said Outreach Manager Tracy Magellan.

November 14, 2009

Montgomery Botanical Center hosts 50th Anniversary Conference

Our 50th year is a good time to look back and also forward.  Both ways, we see the mission solidly met.  Research, conservation, and education flourish through living botanical collections. 

Nine speakers from around the world came together to present lectures on a variety of topics from the history of Montgomery Botanical Center, to specific research conducted using Montgomery Botanical Center's living collection. 

The speakers were: Angelica Cibrian, John Dransfield, Javier Francisco-Ortega, Patrick Griffith, Walter D. Haynes, Carl Lewis, Lloyd Singleton, Dennis Stevenson, and Barry Tomlinson.  Each speaker had a personal story to tell about Montgomery Botanical Center and its living collection. 

Pictures from the event can be found in the 50th Anniversary Conference Report.

Please join us in celebrating our 50th anniversary year!

November 3-5,  2009

Montgomery Botanical Center Hosts 6th International BMAA Conference

Montgomery Botanical Center continues its support of research by hosting the 6th International BMAA Conference in the Nixon Smiley Building for three days.  45 scientists from 18 institutions around the world attended the conference.  The countries included were the United States, Sweden, France, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, the Netherlands, and England. 

BMAA is a cyanobacterial neurotoxin that has been found in the brains of those who suffer from ALS and Alzheimer’s disease.   Montgomery Botanical Center has been involved in BMAA research through its cycad collection for years.  Cycas micronesica is an interesting species studied due to the high incidence of ALS in Guam and the potential correlation or association between the BMAA in Cycas micronesica and ALS.  Conserving rare species like Cycas micronesica is important for botanists and medical researchers alike. 

Dr. Paul Cox stated, “The Nixon Smiley meeting room was perfect for our conference.  The audio/visual system functioned perfectly, and the kitchen and terrace overlooking the pond were fantastic for our lunches.”

Montgomery Botanical Center was happy to host BMAA scientists at the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse as part of its ongoing support of research.

November 2009

Fall/Winter 2009 Montgomery Botanical News is Now Online!

This new issue has articles on scientific collaboration, fieldwork in Belize, new additions to our collection, natural disaster planning, and updates on current research.

Montgomery Botanical Center publishes two newsletters a year to keep our supporters and collaborators up to date and informed.  To read more about how Montgomery Botanical Center meets our mission of "Advancing Research, Conservation, and Education through Scientific Plant Collections" you can access our newsletters online.

To access PDFs of past newsletters please go to the Newsletters button on the left or click the hyperlink. 

October 24, 2009

UPS Global Volunteer Month Workday at MBCUPS Global Volunteer Day at Montgomery Botanical Center, October 24, 2009.

Twenty-two UPS employees came to Montgomery Botanical Center to participate in an environmental volunteer day. Montgomery Botanical is committed to sustainable practices. On aspect of this commitment is seen in MBC’s Plant Recycling Operation.  Trees trimmed on the property are recycled into mulch.

Mulching has many benefits: it recycles nutrients, it prevents weed
UPS Global Volunteer Day at Montgomery Botanical Centerinvasion, and it serves as a shelter for large predatory insects–that in turn eat pest insects. Using mulch also minimizes the need for the use of fertilizer or herbicide. 

Laurie Danielson, Palm Curator, is very pleased with the good work done. Montgomery Botanical Center is thankful to all the UPS volunteers, who worked so hard and did so much.

Dr. Patrick Griffith states, “There are two things I’ll remember about this group: number one–excellent positive attitudes and team spirit, number two–strong backs. The UPS volunteer team put us ahead by 3 weeks.” 

October 6, 2009

Large-scale study illuminates evolution of the Coconut Palm

Dr. Alan Meerow and his colleagues have published an extensive study of palm relationships focusing on the Coconut Palm, Cocos nucifera, and its relatives. The study appears in the latest issue of PLoS One, a prestigious, broad-based, open-access scienceFiji Dwarf Coconut journal.

The Coconut is one of the world's most economically important plant species. The origin of the Coconut, and its relationship to other palm species, are long-standing mysteries for botanists. Much previous work has been focused on these questions, with a variety of hypotheses. Dr. Meerow's work uses a very large DNA data set, which strongly supports a very close relationship between Cocos nucifera and the genus Syagrus. The study found that that Coconut Palm diverged from Syagrus around 35 million years ago.

Especially since 1992, MBC has been actively developing a strong collection of Syagrus and its relatives, and these living plants were used to provide DNA for the investigation. Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist, is one of the co-authors on the recent work.

Dr. Meerow is the Research Geneticist and Systematist at Chapman Field. From 2006 forward, The MBC Board of Directors has recognized Dr. Meerow as an Honorary Member for his frequent collaboration and assistance with MBC’s botanical research and horticulture. Alan's participation in joint expeditions with MBC, his advice and consultation, and his coauthorship are of great value to Montgomery. 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.

September 25, 2009

New Palm Species described by Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist

Syagrus evansiana
A new species, Syagrus evansiana, was described in the latest issue of Palms, the journal of the International Palm Society. Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist, named this species in honor of Don Evans, an experienced horticulturist, who originally brought this discovery to Larry's attention.

Syagrus evanisiana is a nearly-stemless, diminutive palm, which is found in rocky open fields in Minas Gerais, Brazil. This part of the world has seasonal fires, and trees there often have thick, corky bark as protection. In Syagrus evansiana, the stemless habit keeps the palm's heart safely underground as fire passes over; the crown of leaves may burn off, but can be regrown.

Dr. Noblick has worked extensively in the genus Syagrus and its relatives Butia, Lytocaryum, and Attalea. Larry's work has discovered many new species, often using the living collections at Montgomery.

September 18, 2009

Dr. John Dowe Lectures on Rattans at MBC

Dr. John Dowe gave a lecture at the Nixon Smiley Building on his 20 years of research on Australian palms. The talk was Dr. Dowe's fifth lecture at Montgomery Botanical Center. Dr. Dowe is a Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow whoCalamus fruit conducts research annually at MBC. Dr. Dowe has published work with Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist. 

Dr. Dowe’s lecture focused on the rattan palms, Calamus.  Rattan palms are dioecious (separate male and female trees) and they have a whip like flagellum that allows them to grab onto trees to climb into the canopy. All of the parts of the rattan are spiny except for the stems. The stems have historically been and are currently used for furniture. 

Dr. Dowe told a story about the evolution of the common name of the rattan palm from the Lawyer Vine to the Wait-a-While. The vines were originally viewed as fierce, but now are revered as a symbol of a relaxed way of life. 

Dr. Dowe’s book on Australian palms will be published next year. It will contain 320 pages and detail 60 species of Australian palms. Montgomery Botanical Center will make the botanical data from this book available on the MBC website. The work of Dr. Dowe helps advance MBC’s mission of palm research. 

September 8, 2009

Montgomery Botanical Center Featured in The Miami Herald

On Tuesday, Montgomery Botanical Center was featured in a story in the Local and State section of The Miami Herald titled, “Coral Gables research garden hosts ancient plants.”  Herald author Laura Morales wrote a nice article about Montgomery and the plant collections. 

The article focused on MBC plant collections. Quoting the article, “More than 1,000 plant species—including more than 620 species of cycads and palms, the center’s two specialties—thrive on Montgomery’s 120 acres at 11901 Old Cutler Road. The American Public Gardens Association has accredited the center's holdings as Collections of National Significance.”  These large collections have great conservation significance. Some species in the collection no longer exist in the wild, making the few that are conserved here very important. 

The article also discusses current and future plans for increased capacity and support of the MBC mission

To see the full article click here.

August 20, 2009

Longwood Graduate Program Blogs About MBC

The Longwood Gardens Graduate Program came to Montgomery Botanical Center for a foot tour of the collection.  Despite the Summer heat, they wrote up a wonderful blog entry about the collection here at MBC.  To see their post click here.

August 10, 2009

The University of Miami School of Law’s HOPE Students Help at MBCUM School of Law HOPE students at Montgomery Botanical Center.

Nine student volunteers from the University of Miami' s Helping Others Through Pro Bono Efforts (HOPE) came to Montgomery Botanical Center and helped with a large-scale mulching project. They mulched all of the tropical conifer beds in three hours! Having  nine extra hands to help with the project saved MBC days of work.

Montgomery Botanical Center has a growing tropical conifer collection with many extremely rare species. Mulching ameliorates the soil microclimate, provides habitat for beneficial insects, and slowly releases nutrients for the plants.

Montgomery Botanical Center is very thankful to all the students who helped out. The University of Miami School of Law’s HOPE Public Interest Resource Center sent hundreds of law students to approximately 20 sites across Miami-Dade County through the Annual HOPE Day of Service.  MBC is glad to have been one of the 20 participating institutions.

     August 2009

A Look Back at MBC’s Ongoing Contribution to ScienceMontgomery palm Montgomery Botanical Center Nell's House

Montgomery Botanical Center is dedicated to living plant collections, grown to advance botanical research, conservation, and education. 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of MBC.

Looking back, it is easily apparent that the living plant collections at MBC have contributed to many studies since 1959. Even before the founding of MBC, Colonel Montgomery’s plant collections contributed to the work of botanists from very early on.

As part of this year's recognition of MBC history, the team compiled a bibliography of works that utilized the living collections, going back to The Colonel’s era -- over 200 published works in botany have been helped by the living plant collections here. Well over half of these works are from the last ten years, evidence of the increased importance of living plant collections.

One early example is the description of Veitchia montgomeryana by H. E. Moore, from living material grown by Colonel Montgomery.  This scientific paper from 1957 honored Colonel Robert H. Montgomery "whose name so richly deserves to be associated with a member of the [Palm] family."

In recent years, MBC has seen increasing volume of works in diverse fields, including biodiversity, physiology, taxonomy, developmental biology, and also significant use of the collections for popular and educational materials.

     July 25, 2009

New Species of Cycads described by MBC Cycad Biologist, Michael Calonje

Michael Calonje and his colleagues have described two new species of Zamia in Belize, and worked to clarify another species. Three new research papers appeared in the current issue of Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, which has generously made these works available on BRIT website.Michael Calonje and Jan Meerman with Zamia

Michael was alerted to an interesting cliff-dwelling Zamia species by Jan Meerman, a well-known Belizean ecologist,
last year. Since Jan’s careful fieldwork first discovered this new cycad, Michael honored Jan by naming this species Zamia meermanii.

Another new description names a cycad which has been very little studied. Zamia decumbens is a critically endangered species with a very unique ecology, growing only at the bottom of sinkholes or on rocky mountain tops. In recent years, these plants have mistakenly been called Z. prasina in horticulture and botany.

So, then, what is Zamia prasina? Collaborative research by Michael and Jan determined that Zamia prasina is actually the correct name for a  widespread, common cycad species known from Belize, Guatemala, and the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.
MBC is especially grateful for a conservation grant by the Association of Zoological Horticulture. This grant funded the conservation fieldwork which led to these discoveries.

     June 28, 2009

MBC at APGA 2009

Montgomery Botanical Center participated in the 2009 American Public Gardens Association conference, held in St. Louis. Dr. Patrick Griffith presented two talks on MBC living collections management, and moderated a session on Conservation and Research at botanic gardens.

The first MBC talk highlighted the role of geographic analysis in collections development. Dr. Michael Dosmann of the Arnold Arboretum organized the session, focusing on new directions in collections management. Working with MBC Cycad Biologist Michael Calonje, Patrick presented examples of how organizing collections information on maps leads to efficient planning, effective conservation -- and even new botanical discoveries.

The second MBC talk was part of a session organized by Dr. Andrea Kramer of BGCI, which considered the conservation value of living plant collections. Recent collaborative research between MBC, Florida International University, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is designed to address this question. Patrick presented the results of these studies, along with new cost models designed to optimize the effectiveness of ex situ conservation investment by botanic gardens.

    June 13, 2009

Volunteer Tree Planting Day and Dedication

Paul Tessy and Genita Beatriz Cardona, along with six friends, planted Agathis moorei in honor of their son, Martin Joseph Tessy, at  Montgomery Botanical Center.Montgomery Botanical Center would like to thank the Cardona-Tessy family for supporting a tropical conifer tree planting day. 

Paul Tessy and Genita Beatriz Cardona, along with six friends, helped MBC plant nine trees. The trees were wild collected and raised in our nursery until this year’s planting season. Some of the species planted were: Agathis macrophylla, Agathis corbassonii, Podocarpus elongatus 'Blue Chip', Podocarpus guatemalensis, Podocarpus neriifolius, Podocarpus polystachyus, and Podocarpus trinitensis.

The last tree planted, Agathis moorei, was dedicated in honor of the birth of their first child, Martin Joseph Tessy. The Tessy family is passionate about environmental sustainability, and wanted to support conservation here at MBC. MBC thanks the Tessy family and their friends for their support; the trees are looking wonderful!

  June 4, 2009

Jackie Bergquist Presents Research on
Managing Miami's Botanical Collections through Hurricanes.

Jackie BergquistJackie Bergquist, from the Longwood Graduate Fellows program at the University of Delaware, gave a public seminar at MBC on June 4, titled, "The Development of a Natural Disaster Planning Template for use in Plant Collections Management." 

Last summer, Ms. Bergquist was hosted at the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse while conducting on-site research on living collections management at five local gardens--Montgomery Botanical Center, The Kampong, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Viscaya, and the Gifford Arboretum. Ms. Bergquist's innovative work was partially supported by the Montgomery Botanical Research Fellows program, through the generous support of the Kelly Foundation.

Ms. Bergquist's thesis examined the natural disaster planning process in public gardens, in order to identify the details that make a natural disaster plan truly useful to an organization.  The research conducted included two national public garden surveys, three on-site case studies, and nine on-site interviews with botanical institutions that had experienced disaster.

While many Botanic Gardens have disaster plans, only one in five has a recovery plan that is specifically focused on living collections. Ms. Bergquist's work aims to make living collections recovery a central focus of the disaster planning process.

The staff at Montgomery Botanical Center are happy to have contributed to such an important study.  Being located in South Florida, MBC can experience tropical storms and hurricanes; thoughtful planning and preparation goes a great distance in managing living collections through these natural disasters.

    June 1, 2009

Montgomery Botanical Center receives CAP grant to assess
Collections and Historic Structures.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Heritage Preservation collaboratively support Montgomery Botanical Center through the Conservation Assessment Program (CAP).  Montgomery Botanical Center was one of 100 museums in 39 states to receive this prestigious award.  The CAP award will provide an assessment of our living collection and our historic structures.  This expert assessment will allow MBC to plan for future needs to support the living collections at the core of our mission.

May 19, 2009

Dr. Josiane Le Corff presents research on Horticulture Ecology

Dr. Le Corff, an ecologist from the French Institut National d’Horticulture, AGROCAMPUS-OUEST is being hosted in the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse while researching with MBC Honorary Member Dr. Carol Horvitz from the University of Miami. France is working on “grenelle de l’environnement”-“greening the environment” and part of the program is decreasing pesticide use by 50%. In France less than 2% of crops are grownCabbage organically. France is also the largest user of pesticides in all of Europe. 

To meet the goal of lowering pesticide use, the French are trying to promote natural enemies of plant pests. From previous work on conservation biological control, it 
has been shown that landscapes with hedgerows, fallows, and  weeds  usually harbor a higher density and diversity of natural enemies compared to areas dominated by arable land. Predatory insects appear to be attracted to both host weeds and crops in the Brassicaceae. 

Dr. Le Corff’s innovative work studies the effects of weeds amongst crops in attracting more predatory insects into the crop ecosystem. This planting system can perhaps alleviate the pressure that pest insects place on the crop plant. Dr. Le Corff presented her findings at the Nixon Smiley Meeting Room to a large audience made up of individuals from the University of Miami, Florida International University, Miami Dade College, The Kampong, the USDA, and Jungle Island. 

May 18, 2009

Montgomery Botanical Center celebrates Plant Conservation Day.

Every year Montgomery Botanical Center conducts multiple expeditions to bring endangered plants into protective cultivation.  In the last year, MBC has performed conservation fieldwork inCycas micronesica at Montgomery Botanical Center. Belize, Jamaica, Panama, Colombia, and New Zealand.  Please see the Expeditions  page on our website for detailed accounts of our collecting trips and ex situ conservation work.

Montgomery Botanical Center values the work of organizations like the Association of Zoological Horticulture (AZH) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), both of which co-sponsor Plant Conservation Day.

Montgomery's important plant conservation successes are exemplified in our protection and propagation of Cycas micronesica. Once the most common tree in Guam, Cycas micronesica is now endangered due to the introduction of the Cycad Asian Scale.

This project is one of our most extensive cycad conservation projects to date, resulting in an important ex situ conservation collection at Montgomery Botanical Center.

"Plant conservation is central to the mission Montgomery Botanical Center; protective cultivation is often the only option for conserving rare plant species. Our work with cycads and palms ensures that these living gems can survive for future generations to study and appreciate," states Executive Director Dr. Patrick Griffith.

May 4, 2009

Montgomery Botanical Center now has an Online Donation Button! 

Montgomery Botanical Center has launched its first online donation button.  Donating online is a secure and convenient way to support Montgomery Botanical Center.  

Upon selecting the Donate button, you will be redirected to PayPal's secure internet site.  On PayPal, you can pay via credit card, back account, or PayPal account. 

Montgomery Botanical Center thanks you for your generous support.

You can use the button above or find the donate button on the support page to make a donation.

The Montgomery Botanical Center is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to the Center are deductible for federal income and estate tax purposes. The Center is registered under the Florida Solicitation of Contributions Act. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll free within the state 1-800-435-7352. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by the state.

Montgomery Botanical Center's 50th Year Anniversary in Coral Gables recognized by the Coral Gables City Commission. Left to right: Dr. Patrick Griffith, Charles P. Sacher, esq., "Chip" Wayne Withers, Karl Smiley, Lee Anderson, and Tracy Magellan.

April 29, 2009

Coral Gables proclaims, “Montgomery Botanical Center Day.”

April 29, 2009 has been proclaimed Montgomery Botanical Center Day in Coral Gables. The city commission presented a glowing proclamation highlighting 50 years of accomplishments to the MBC leadership at the April 28 City Commission Meeting. Dr. Patrick Griffith presented a brief history and summary of MBC’s work to the Mayor and Commission, which can be downloaded here. Commissioner Wayne “Chip” Withers recognized the MBC team in attendance, including President Charles P. Sacher, Vice President Dr. Karl Smiley, Executive Director Dr. Patrick Griffith, Superintendent Lee Anderson and Funding and Communications Manager Tracy Magellan.

Coral Gables Proclamation Montgomery Botanical Center Day.

The proclamation details MBC’s history and accomplishments, and concludes thus:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD D. SLESNICK II, as Mayor of Coral Gables, along with the members of our City Commission do hereby proudly proclaim, April 29, 2009 as:


 In observance thereof, we congratulate said facility for its fifty years of involvement in our Coral Gables and South Florida Community.

Dr. Patrick Griffith states, “Having the support and recognition of the City for our important work in botany affirms and strengthens our mission. We are all very happy to have the Coral Gables leadership involved in celebrating Montgomery Botanical Center’s 50th anniversary.”

Volunteers from the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's Education department volunteering at Montgomery Botanical Center for Earth Day.Fairchild Challenge Education Department Volunteering at Montgomery Botanical Center.

April 22, 2009

Fairchild Challenge Team hard at work at MBC for Earth Day

Six volunteers from the Education Department at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden came to Montgomery Botanical Center to work on a large cycad horticulture project. These Encephalartos collections are important for conservation and botanical research.  These collections were originally dressed with organic mulch, but are being converted to granite mulch, as MBC has had good results with this medium.  We thank the Fairchild Challenge Team for all of their hard work on the project. 

Dr. Patrick Griffith, MBC Executive Director, states: "Enthusiasm, expertise, and most importantly, brawn -- these are the great qualities that come to mind when I remember the awesome work of the Fairchild Challenge Team. Working alongside Junior, Nancy, Netiva, Surey, Marion and Hayes was great fun. I consider myself a huge fan of the great work being done in education at FTBG."

April 16, 2009

Gifford Arboretum Lecture co-sponsored by MBC

Montgomery Botanical Center was honored to co-sponsor the 21st Gifford Arboretum Lecture at the University of Miami. Dr. Lucia Lohmann of the Universisdade de Sao Paulo, Brazil, gave a lecture titled, “Disentangling one of Darwin’s great mysteries: The story of climbing plants.” Dr. Lohmann’s work investigates current and past environmental factors in a phylogenetic framework, answering questions about the evolution and diversification of climbing plants.

The event also included a commemoration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday -- A 200th birthday cake was served, and an encounter between Darwin and Sebastian the Ibis was enacted for the assembled guests.

April 15, 2009

Paul Drummond Fund sponsors fieldwork in BelizePalm with nests, Belize

Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist, performed conservation and research fieldwork in Belize during March, working with biologists from Belize Botanic Gardens and Green Hills Botanical Collections. Belize is known to have a very diverse palm flora, with an especially large number of genera relative to the geographic area. Many populations in Belize are of biogeographic significance, as they represent range limits for species or genera. Of particular interest for this work was Pseudophoenix, which reaches its southwestern limit in one population of Pseudophoenix sargentii in Northern Belize.
A detailed report is available on our Expeditions page.

The Paul Drummond Fund was established at Montgomery Botanical Center to honor the life and work of Paul Drummond, past president of the International Palm Society and lifelong palm enthusiast. Paul Drummond’s legacy of cultivating and sharing palm species remains a lasting legacy. 

April 4, 2009

Palm Societies Come Together at Montgomery

South Florida Palm Society workday at Montgomery Botanical Center.Montgomery Botanical hosted a joint meeting of the South Florida Palm Society and the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society on April 4 -- over 40 members participated. The meeting centered on a volunteer effort to plant a population of Roystonea oleracea. These palms are the direct result of fieldwork in Trinidad and Tobago in 2007 which was generously funded by the South Florida Palm Society.

 Montgomery Botanical Center enjoys a good relationship with both Palm Societies throughout the state. The South Florida Palm Society, the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society, and Montgomery Botanical Center all have the conservation and appreciation of Palms as central aspects of their missions.

50th Anniversary Montgomery Botanical Center Newsletter

April 2009

Spring 2009 Montgomery Botanical News Available Online

The newest edition of the Montgomery Botanical News is hot off the press.  This special fiftieth anniversary issue combines history and current research.  Montgomery Botanical Center is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2009 and this issue is commemorating our founders and our mission. 

To access PDFs of the newsletters please go to the Newsletters button.

March 31, 2009

Montgomery Botanical Center Hosts Students for Environmental Immersion Day

Mater Academy Charter School students measuring Gumbo Limbo tree at Montgomery Botanical Center for Environmental Immersion Day.Students from Mater Academy Charter School visited Montgomery Botanical Center this week asMater Academy Charter School visiting Montgomery Botanical Center for Environmental Immersion Day. Eight students and their AP Environmental Science teacher Natalie Ledoux began with a tour and history of Montgomery Botanical Center followed by five rotations.  The rotations taught practical skills relating to soil and root science, seedbank operations, conservation in the nursery, tropical forestry, and cycad biology.  It was great having so many enthusiastic students participate in our conservation efforts here at Montgomery Botanical Center.  Education and Conservation are vital to the long term preservation of threatened palms and cycads.

March 28, 2009

Montgomery Botanical Center Hosts 50th Members Meeting

Awards for long-term service at Montgomery Botanical Center given to John Popenoe, Loyd Kelly, Stanley Kiem (not pictured), and Walter Haynes.Montgomery Botanical Center had its 50th Members Meeting this year.  Montgomery president Charles P. Sacher presented four plaques for outstanding service and commitment.  Those receiving awards were Walter Haynes, Loyd Kelly, Stanley Kiem, and John Popenoe.

New Directors at Montgomery Botanical Center: Mark Smiley, David Manz, and Charles S. Sacher (left to right).
Walter Haynes gave a very well received presentation on the history of Robert Montgomery, Nell Montgomery, and Montgomery Botanical Center;  It was a retrospective looking back to 1932.

At the meeting, three new directors were elected: Mark Smiley, David Manz, and Charles S. Sacher (left to right). Please join us in congratulating their joining the Montgomery team.

March 15, 2009

SFPS Spring 2009 Palm Sale at MBC

The South Florida Palm Society had their Spring 2009 Sale at Montgomery Botanical Center this weekend.  Vendors had rare palms and cycads, along with many landscape industry classics, for sale. Painting by Linda Apriletti of Nypa palms at Montgomery Botanical Center.

The SFPS palm sale gives MBC the opportunity to educate the community about our mission and conservation efforts.  During the event, MBC gave guided tours of our 120 acre collection. “It was great to have so many people come in who share our love of palms,” stated Tracy Magellan.

Considered to be the “World’s Largest Palm Sale,” there were 20 palm vendors in attendance and one artist, Linda Apriletti.  Linda has many paintings of our palm collection in her portfolio.  This painting shows Nypa fruticans, which grows in our brackish ponds.   

SFPS has an excellent tradition of supporting conservation efforts and palm research. The organization has funded a number MBC palm research expeditions, and also volunteered on landscape projects at MBC.

March 7, 2009

Scientists Convene at Montgomery Botanical for NSF Cycad and Conifer Research

AToL National Science Foundation Meeting at Montgomery Botanical Center.  Dennis Stevenson and Barry Tomlinson-center of photo.

Many distinguished scientists involved in the Gymnosperms on the Tree of Life (Gymnosperm AToL) project funded by the National Science Foundation met at Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC). These scientists are part of the Assembling the Tree of Life Project, which has 50 participants from various universities and scientific research institutions collaborating in an effort to gain insight into relationships among all life forms. 

The group that visited MBC specializes in the evolution and relationship between non-flowering plants that produce seeds (gymnosperms).  Gymnosperms comprise an ancient lineage of landATol, National Science Foundation Meeting at Montgomery Botanical Center. plants, far older than flowering plants.  The relationships among gymnosperms are a critical botanical portion  of the AToL project. The assembled group discussed strategies for processing the large data sets required, and coordinated their work.

Dennis Stevenson and Damon Little (Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow), from The New York Botanical Garden, have used MBC’s cycad collection extensively for their research on the cycad branch of the Gymnosperm AToL project.  Sarah Mathews and her students from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University have used our tropical conifer collection for their work on the project.  MBC has had a long history of collaboration with NYBG and the Arnold Arboretum.  By providing scientists with access to our collections we are supporting conservation, research, and education.

Many thanks to Whole Foods Market in Coral Gables, which generously donated a lovely breakfast of pastries, fruit, and coffee for the event.

ATol, National Science Foundation Meeting at Montgomery Botanical Center.

March 7, 2009

Miami Dade College Service Learning Weekend at Montgomery Botanical Center

Professor Magellan's BSC1050 class completing their service learning project at Montgomery Botanical Center.

On Saturday, Lee Anderson and his two long term volunteers Cliff and Marilynn Renshaw taught seven of Tracy Magellan's Miami Dade students how to propagate via cuttings, as part of their course BSC1050-Biology and the Environment. Concepts of root to shoot ratio and plant stress were discussed, and incorporated into the process. 

While touring MBC, the students were excited to see nativeProfessor Magellan's BSC1050 class completing their service learning project at Montgomery Botanical Center. Tracy Magellan on right. crabs displaying in their natural habitat (the brackish lakes).  Many students also commented, they were surprised to discover  there was such a large botanical garden so close to home. 

MBC Executive Director Patrick Griffith states, "It's great to see students participate in horticultural learning projects here; Plant collections based experience is the best way MBC can enrich student

March 4, 2009

World’s Largest Dicot Seed Arrives at MBC

Chad Husby with the largest dicot seed in the world.MBC was recently host to a botanical record holder, the giant seed of the tree Mora oleifera.  This remarkable tree is a semi-mangrove from the Pacific coasts of Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.  It is a member of the bean family, Fabaceae, and has never before been cultivated in the United States.  MBC collaborator Richard Moyroud, a plant conservationist and ecologist in West Palm Beach, coordinated with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and MBC to obtain several M. oleifera seeds for enrichment of US botanical collections.  A group of botanists from neighboring institutions, Drs. Barry Tomlinson, Jack Fisher, Dennis Stevenson and Jay Horn visited MBC to see this botanical wonder for the first time.  Since MBC already has the palm that produces the world’s largest seed, the double coconut, Lodoicea maldivica, and largest-leafed fig, Ficus dammaropsis, adding the largest dicot seed is a fitting way to expand our collection of botanical superlatives! 

For more information and photos of Mora oleifera, see the link below:

February 20, 2009

Living collections research on tropical conifers presented at MBC

Left to right: Dr. Christian Schulz, Ron Determann , and Patrick Knoft at Montgomery Botanical Center.
In keeping with Col. Robert Montgomery’s passion for conifers, MBC recently hosted botanists Patrick Knopf and Dr. Christian Schulz, of Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany in the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse.  Mr. Knopf is a Ph.D. student and Curator of Gymnosperms at the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity of Plants.  He is studying the anatomical diversity of the least known conifer family, Podocarpaceae, as well as the genus Agathis (Araucariaceae).  To carry out his research, Mr. Knopf has assembled probably the world’s largest living collection of Podocarpaceae through careful propagation, cultivation and documentation.    The goal of Mr. Knopf’s research is to develop an anatomical key to the family, so that species can be identified even when reproductive structures are lacking.  In addition, Mr. Knopf and Dr. Schulz are developing a molecular phylogeny of the family that will shed further light on relationships among species and genera.  At MBC Mr. Knopf presented an overview of his research and recent fieldwork in the Philippines.  Later this year, he will travel to Fiji, Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia to collect living Podocarpaceae for his research, which he hopes to curate at MBC.

MBC has been exchanging tropical conifer germplasm with
Mr. Knopf for several years and this fruitful partnership continued during this visit.  Mr. Knopf went home with many plants and cuttings from MBC and the Atlanta Botanical Garden (brought by Conservatory Director Ron Determann, who drove to MBC for Mr. Knopf’s talk) to add to his research collection. 

Dr. Schulz, a postdoctoral researcher, is also dedicated to living collections research and has recently studied cycads at the New York Botanical Garden, but is now focusing on
the genus Selaginella, a very ancient plant group distantly related to ferns.  He is establishing a living collection for his research and was assisted by MBC collections manager Chad Husby in locating Selaginella species in South Florida for his research.

For an example of
Mr. Knopf and Dr. Schulz's collaborative work in plant systematics, see the following online interactive key to the conifer family Cupressaceae.

Montgomery Botanical Center focuses on scientific living collections and collaborative partnerships. Exchanging material with other scientists and curators is an important way of enriching the resources available for botanical research both at MBC and around the world.

January 12,  2009

The Villagers Generously Grant Funds for MBC Guesthouse Restoration

Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse at Montgomery Botanical Center.The Villagers have generously funded various restoration projects for Montgomery Botanical Center's 1930s buildings.  The latest grant will help restore the walls of the Arthur Montgomery Guest House.

Designed by architect Robert Fitch Smith and completed circa 1934, the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse is an important structure at MBC. Notable biologists have visited the guesthouse from as early as the 1930s, and this continues to the present day.

Dr. Arthur Montgomery, the youngest of Colonel Robert Montgomery's sons, was one of the original 1959 incorporators of Montgomery Botanical Center. He was a noted mineralogist who founded what is now the Montgomery Botanical Fellows Program, which is continued through the Kelly Foundation. The Guesthouse was formally named the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse in March 1992.

Dr. Patrick Griffith states, "Hosting visiting researchers who study our collections is one of the most important things we do at MBC. Support from The Villagers ensures that the Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse can continue to serve botanical science."

January  2009

Montgomery Botanical Center Celebrates 50 Years

Eleanor "Nell" Montgomery Jennings at Montgomery Botanical Center.
In 1959, Montgomery Botanical Center was established as the Montgomery Foundation by Nell Montgomery Jennings in memory of her husband Colonel Robert Montgomery and his love for palms.  The buildings and plant collections date to 1932, when Robert built the Coconut Grove Palmetum, which now serves as the infrastructure for Montgomery Botanical Center.

For 50 years Montg
omery Botanical Center has been advancing conservation, research, and education in many ways.  Since 1959, numerous expeditions have been conducted to locations worldwide, bringing many new palm and cycad species into cultivation. These activities have greatly accelerated in recent years: since 1990, MBC has conducted over 70 research and collecting expeditions, and supported 12 Research Fellows from countries around the world. MBC’s Arthur Montgomery Guesthouse has hosted plant scientists from over 50 countries, while they study the living plant collections.

For details of MBC’s early and recent history, please visit the History Page, browse our Newsletters, and also see our News Archives.

Rigorous curation and strong ethics in MBC’s collecting practice have been recognized. The MBC palm collection and cycad collection were recently accredited by the NAPCC. Looking forward, MBC expects further advancement of botanical research and conservation.

MBC News Archive

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