Nature NB is holding their annual Festival of Nature in Kouchibouguac National Park on June 2-4 2017… lots of things to do including botany! Check out their brochure!
Can you even do botany in the winter? There are no flowers or leaves to distinguish plants and most things are covered in snow!
This is true, but winter gives us a chance to look more closely at the foundations of plants and trees without the distractions of color or camouflage of green. The bare branches of trees define their overall shape and stature clearly, and many may be known just by this. Other shrubs and trees can be identified by their branching patterns, bud shapes and placement, stem colours etc., and even herbaceous plants have parts that show through the winter and help us figure out their names (e.g. seed pods, bracts, spines).
There are guidebooks and keys specifically for winter botany, and the internet hosts a lot of great sites describing the tricks and techniques for identifying plants in the winter, just search for “winter botany”. Here are several books we have in the Herbarium, with a page from one that would help with the birches in the photo above!
May 18, 2016: This morning Dr. Mary Young, a veteran volunteer at the Connell Memorial Herbarium, received a Doctor of Science degree at UNBs 187th Encaenia.
These are some of the earliest flowering plants I’ve encountered in this province. They are called Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus. It occurs in wet areas and flowers really early in the season, then throws up big leaves later on. It is not common in the province, in fact this is close to the northernmost part of it’s distribution.
Prompted by an inquiry by a botanist in Korea who is collecting tissue samples of this species from around the world, I checked the herbarium’s collection: we only have 8 specimens from New Brunswick in our cabinets and they were mainly collected about 50 years ago!
Time for an update, I thought, and time for a field trip too (it’s been a long winter!) So, last week, the first weekend of April, Liz, Bev and I went out on a hunt for the elusive skunk cabbage. While quite large, the flower is a little hard to see at first because it occurs in marshy, wet areas full of dead grasses!
The occasion also gave us a chance to learn more about the ecology of this very odd plant, for example: it makes scent and warmth to attract pollinating insects; it buries itself deeper in the mud each year with it’s contractile roots; and it has separate male and female flowers.
Love learning about plants!
We have been so fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers ! I want to thank you all for showing up each week and helping us process all the piles of specimens that need work. From species identification workshops through databasing, mounting and filing, their hours of effort maintain the herbarium as a useful scientific resource.
Thanks to Elizabeth and Gart who organize our monthly plant identification workshops, Eileen and Karla who make art out of science, and Beverly and Clay who have stuck with the databasing despite so many technical glitches!
It seems like the end of term just now, as Karla is off home to Mexico and Beverly is off to survey birds over the summer. It looks like it will be fairly quiet here over the summer, but I hope to see familiar faces and new collections in the fall!
Feel free to drop by the herbarium on Wednesdays over the summer !
Have a pressed plant you’d like to identify?
Want to learn how to use various wild flower guides or floras?
Join fellow plant enthusiasts at the Connell Herbarium in Fredericton in Room 13 of the Bailey Building at UNB — beginners and experts welcome. No costs involved.
We meet on the 3rd WEDNESDAY of each month from 11:00 – 3:00.
Here are the dates of our planned sessions for 2016:
- Feb 17,March 16, April 20,
- May 18, June 15,July 20,
- Aug 17,Sept 21,Oct 19,
- Nov16, Dec 21.
Every third Wednesday of the month, the Friends of the Connell Memorial Herbarium host a plant identification workshop to encourage interest in local botany. The sessions are held in the Biology (Bailey) Building at UNB, starting at 11 am and running until 3 pm. Attended by beginners and experts alike, these meet-ups are great places to learn about the plants in your own backyard, access resources such as our library and specimen collection, and scheme about botanical expeditions. In addition, you may be able to help the Herbarium with specimens waiting to be accepted into our collections.
This month we’re tackling some difficult graminoides!
See you at the next meeting on January 20, 2017!