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2017 MBC News Archive






Hemithrinax ekmaniana and Ceiba pentandra by the lakes at Montgomery Botanical Center.

November 2017

Fall/Winter 2017 Montgomery Botanical News is Now Online!

This issue highlights a new species discovery (pages 4-5) and updates on research being conducted at MBC (page 6).

You will also find articles on Hurricane Irma damage and new projects helping to restore the garden (page 3) and information on our new Plant Recycling Center supported generously by the Vaughn-Jordan Foundation (page 7).

This year we added four new interns, two new Conservation Horticulture Fellows, and one new Assistant Curator. It was a good year for staffing (page 7).

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" please see our newsletters online.

October 20, 2017

National Science Foundation Helps Recover Rare Palms at Montgomery

The National Science Foundation awarded emergency funds to allow Montgomery to rescue rare palms damaged by Hurricane Irma. The RAPID grant will allow MBC to upright and stake large palms -- which require a crane -- and to hire student help to care for these palms as they re-establish.

Living collections are vital for biological research. The US scientific community depends on well-documented living research collections to support many areas of study -- such collections are a vital part of the US research infrastructure.

This NSF award highlights the great importance of Montgomery's living collections; by investing in the security of MBC's palms, the National Science Foundation can ensure their continued service to botanical science.

September 9-10, 2017

Hurricane Irma Update

In response to questions regarding how the garden fared after Hurricane Irma, we have created a webpage. This webpage shows storm damage and storm surge at Montgomery Botanical Center. Thank you for your support and for your words of encouragement in this difficult time for the garden. We are keeping our heads up and looking to the future! We are working on righting over 100 special plants that went down and working on clearing out many, many others.

August 15, 2017

New STEM Research and Conservation Intern

The Coral Gables Community Foundation generously supported Montgomery Botanical Center's new Summer STEM Research and Conservation Intern this year. This internship directly supports education and environmental conservation in the City of Coral Gables and contributes towards making the City Beautiful.

Matthew Miller, Montgomery Botanical Center's new Coral Gables Community Foundation STEM Research and Conservation Intern, is working in the nursery during his 4th week at Montgomery Botanical Center. He has learned about caring for the palms, cycads, tropical conifers and now he will learn to germinate and grow the plants from seed until they are large enough for planting in the garden. Matthew is currently enrolled at Miami Dade College in the Landscape & Horticulture Technology Program.

Support for the STEM training of the research and conservation intern was provided by a grant from the Coral Gables Community Foundation. Please join us in thanking the foundation for supporting education in Coral Gables!

July 28, 2017

Student Researcher, Joshua Diamond, Offers Lecture on Cavity-Nesting Birds in South Florida

Title: Cavity-Nesting Birds in South Florida's Urban Forests: Competition Between Native and Exotic Species.

Speaker: Joshua Diamond is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Earth and Environment in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida International University.

Time and date: Friday, July 28th, 2017 at 2:00 PM.

Location: Montgomery Botanical Center, Nixon Smiley Building.

About the Presentation: Cavity-nesting birds are connected by their usage of tree hollows for breeding. Suitable cavities are excavated by woodpeckers, and a variety of other bird species must capture and defend them for their own use. South Florida has an unusual combination of native birds of temperate North America, tropical trees, and exotic cavity-nesting birds from Europe, Asia, and South America. A majority of native cavity-nesting birds have been extirpated from Miami-Dade County, including chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, bluebirds, and several woodpeckers. Exotic cavity-nesting birds in the region now include parrots, parakeets, starlings, and mynas. Native birds must compete with these while managing the challenges posed by urbanization. This presentation will feature a special focus on data collected at Montgomery Botanical Center.

July 10, 2017

New study: botanic garden plants are not equal when it comes to conservation.

A new scientific study shows how two closely related species can differ in conservation effectiveness, when grown in a garden. The paper, appearing in BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION, shows that different strategies are needed for different plants, based on biology or geography.

The new paper, supported by a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, compares two imperiled cycad species from different habitats – sunny beaches and dark rainforest caves – showing that a slower-growing plant may need a larger collection to capture the same amount of genetic diversity as a faster-growing plant.

Plants grown in botanic gardens help to conserve a growing number of endangered species. Quoting from the paper, “cultivation of imperiled plants perfectly leverages the skills and assets of the botanic garden field to contribute to species survival.” Figuring out exactly the right number of plants to grow can help gardens use those resources most effectively.

The study is an international and broad collaboration among Montgomery, Bahamas National Trust, Belize Botanic Gardens, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Fairchild, Florida International University, and the USDA Chapman Field Station.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA-30-14-0123-14]. For more on the IMLS find it on twitter @US_IMLS and www.facebook.com/USIMLS. Thank you IMLS!

June 2017

Spring/Summer 2017 Montgomery Botanical News is Now Online!

This new issue of the Montgomery Botanical News has articles on Dr. Larry Noblick's recently published revision of the genus Syagrus, a new efficient irrigation project supported by the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, and a project in search of Bahamian buccaneer palms!

You will also find articles on how Montgomery Botanical Center is collaborating with eight other gardens to lead the nation on safeguarding plant collection and of course research updates at MBC.

Also, please see pages 10 and 11 for a list of grants and support received in 2016. Your support is greatly appreciated and it helps Montgomery meet its mission year after year. If you would like to support Montgomery online please visit our Support Us page.

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" please see our newsletters online.

April 7, 2017

New Palmetto Species described by International Team

A new palmetto species, Sabal antillensis, has just been published! The new species is endemic to the Dutch Caribbean, found only on the islands of Bonaire and Curaçao, and has a striking, pachycaul appearance, with a swollen trunk and short petioles.

Sabal antillensis has been known about for some time, but not officially designated until today. Quoting from the paper: “The single native palm species on Curaçao and Bonaire did not receive much attention, or even a determination, for many decades.” The palm was only first documented in the late 1940s, and Botanists only began to mention its distinctiveness in the 1970s. A collaborative effort between Montgomery Botanical Center and the Carmabi Foundation thoroughly studied the morphology and anatomy of these palms, and found them to deserve their own new name, chosen to honor the Dutch Antilles where they are found.

Montgomery is very grateful to Dr. Lin Lougheed for generously funding this exploratory plant research, and to the Carmabi Foundation (Curaçao), the Government of the Public Entity of Bonaire, and the USDA for permission to study and collect these important specimens.

The paper, featured on the cover of Phytotaxa 303(1), is freely available as an open access publication on the Phytotaxa website.


February 3, 2017

A Monumental Work in Palm Diversity!
The Authoritative Treatment of Syagrus.

Dr. Larry Noblick has completed and published his monograph of the genus Syagrus. The work brings together the author’s knowledge of these palms’ geography, morphology, relationships, anatomy, ecology, and ethnobotanical uses, into a definitive treatment of these widespread and important palms.

Some Syagrus are well known as landscape palms, but the genus is also scientifically important as the nearest relative to the coconut, which is considered the world’s most useful plant. Recognizing 65 species, the new work introduces one new species, Syagrus pimentae, and makes three new combinations.

Larry began his fieldwork for Syagrus nearly 40 years ago, and this work took him over vast distances in Brazil, over much of South America, and throughout the Lesser Antilles, observing, collecting – and climbing – most of these species personally. In addition, Larry examined over 8,000 herbarium specimens for this study, at over 40 different herbaria. Quoting from the study:

The author has visited populations of Syagrus in the Lesser Antilles, French Guiana, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, and Bolivia. The author first encountered the genus in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil (1978–1980) while working at the Federal University (ALCB) as a Peace Corp volunteer. Work continued (1981–1986) in Feira de Santana, Bahia (HUEFS), while building up their herbarium collections. They were further studied (1986–1991) while working on his doctorate thesis, “The Indigenous Palms of the state of Bahia, Brazil” (Noblick 1991) at the Field Museum in Chicago (F) and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He expanded his work on cocosoid palms as a post-doc (1991–1994) at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTG) and later as the Palm Biologist for Montgomery Botanical Center (1994-present).

Published as a complete, 262-page volume in the journal PHYTOTAXA, the work is freely available for reading and download on the PHYTOTAXA website – allowing open access for researchers, horticulturists, and enthusiasts to enjoy.

January 27, 2017

Kelly Botanical Research Fellow and Palm Expert, Dr. Fred Stauffer, 
Offers Lecture in Nell's House and Studies West African Palm at MBC.

Title: West African Palms, and new results on the Hyphaene project.

Speaker: Dr. Fred Stauffer is Curator at Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève, Switzerland.

Time and date: Friday, January 27th, 2017 at 2:00 PM.

Location: Montgomery Botanical Center, Nell's House Living Room.

About the Presentation: Dr. Stauffer will give a presentation including many nice pictures of the palms of West Africa and lots of ethnobotany of how these are used by locals. There will be many pictures of poorly known palms.

Dr. Fred Stauffer is a Kelly Botanical Research Fellow at MBC. The Kelly Foundation’s generous support of this program allows experts from around the world to make use of the MBC living collections for their scholarship, and to share their findings with the botanical community, students and the public through lectures. Please join MBC in thanking the Kelly Foundation for their support of plant research and education. This lecture was also brought to you with the support of the City of Coral Gables.


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