Friday, September 30, 2011

Botanical Gardens Visit (Notes)

Botanical Gardens Notes

· There are typically four parts to plants. Occasionally one is missing, and that’s when it gets interesting.

· The four parts are: roots (nutrient collectors), stems (connecting tissues), leaves (light capturing component), and reproductive parts.

· Plants try to maximize solar gain with petals and leaves that track the sun by growth. Every moment they are trying to reorient to the sun.

· Multiple leaves are better at getting more sunlight (nodes)

· How resilient is something to calamity? Tree trunks? Storms wipe them out. Other plants are trickier. They don’t invest in woody infrastructure. They have storage/energy batteries that serve as a reserve to rebuild the leaf canopy. These plants could outlive trees. It is a good way of persisting if a place has lots issues. The “battery” lies in wait until warm soil, rain, and light trigger growing.

· Tamarind…Leaflets have an area that inflate allowing them to reposition with water pressure.

· Different leaves (aka: those more in shad and those more in sun) can function differently.

· Abscession: does it get more than it takes to run? If not, this occurs. Positive feedback loop.

· Plants never have fungus on leaves (usually). They are repulsive, gummy, and have toxins that kill.

· Leaves acquire energy, keep cool, and kill off or repel anything that touches it.

· Lots of a plant’s energy goes to toxic defense, aka toxic warfare.

· Structural parasites don’t have the energy to hold themselves up, so they become parasites and find something to grow on. Interesting example is the vines we were shown, that initially grow toward shade before growing upward toward light.

· 99% of seeds don’t make it – leads to the interesting thought that plants are inefficient

· Leaves are like photovoltaic cells – the hotter they get, the less efficient they are

· Crop plants are incapable of surviving in water. They are totally dependant on us because we domesticated them. Any plants that are domesticated are grown for efficiency. There is one harvest. Plants with wild ancestors don’t do that.

· Leaves have different durations. Evergreen oak leaves last 3 to 4 years. Tough leaves holds itself up with nonliving structure.

· Yellow pitcher plants grow in very low pH levels. At certain pH’s, nitrogen becomes fixed/immobile. Leaves are used to acquire minerals. Animals are not nitrogen limited, so the plant collects buds, and is a nitrogen extractor. The plant is able to keep it from hurting itself from digestion and rot.

· Papyrus stalks are vertical, triangular in cross section. You can slice and hammer the interior fibers to make paper.

· All plants are in competition for light. Bamboo stems in repeating units. Each one is free form at the base. It is telescoped and continues to telescope until it beats others to light. It only takes a few days and the highest ones get up to 35 meters.

· Wilt occurs to a loss of water pressure. It is how plants move quickly.

· Venus flytraps have something like an electrical impulse that trips, and then pumps water away and it shuts. It takes a couple of hours to get water pumped places.

· Hairy plants can capture dew

· Barrel Cactus uses accordion structure to unfold to collect energy. Thorns protect the interior area.

· “Plants are smart. We shouldn’t eat them. “ –Karl

· Welwitschia: interesting plant that only has two long curling leaves, yet is related to pine trees.

· Living stone, Lithops species, Aizoaceae in South Africa. All the photosynthesis is happening under ground. Acts just like a subterranean light pipe. Photosynthesis occurs at the edges, and the middle is doing water storage.

· Tropical plants are the hardest to maintain. The temperature can’t go below 55 degrees, and if it does, the plants will never recover. One of the other issues are bugs. It would be wise to plan There is an extensive history with growing citrus indoors. The British Empire had classic palm houses, which was the first to make use of tinted glass. They created a food production house, which is considered an origin of the concept of slaves. It was all for European political vanity. It started with citrus. A heat source, a hot water delivery system, a vent to the side for air exchange, and a steel infrastructure was the solution to issues with prior greenhouses.

· Email Michener if we have any plant related questions!

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