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December 2011


In this issue
  • Study Finds Cycads Evolved More Recently
  • Help Foster the Next Generation of Plant Scientists
  • 2012 Director's Lecture Series Begins on January 9
  • Take a Class and Commune with Winter Trees
  • Spread Holiday Cheer with the Gift of Membership
  • December Lectures Focus on Nightshades and Ginkgo
  • Plant Spotlight on Cryptomeria japonica

  • Help Foster the Next Generation of Plant Scientists
    Education Endowed Fund

    With an important living collection of plants, extensive herbarium holdings, and state-of-the-art laboratories, the Arnold Arboretum has much to offer students interested in learning and investigating the biology of plants. While many students have benefited from increased access to our resources over the past year, the Arboretum holds tremendous potential to expand its impact on the future of tomorrow's scientists. This winter, contributions to the annual appeal will support the Arboretum's endowed fund for education. Make a year-end gift and be an active participant in the Arboretum's mission to foster greater understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of Earth's botanical diversity.

    2012 Director's Lecture Series Begins on January 9
    Evolution of Big

    Register today for talks in the 2012 Director's Lecture Series to explore the ideas and discoveries of nationally recognized experts on key issues associated with science. Arboretum Director Ned Friedman kicks off the series with "The Evolution of Big" on January 9, illuminating how trees evolved more than three hundred million years ago. Subsequent speakers include Kirk Johnson on "The Global Forests of Greenhouse Earth" (February 6), Jules Janick on how art has documented horticulture (March 5), and Noah Fierer on the microbes that reside in and on the human body (March 19). Space is limited and you must register in advance; please note that all lectures are nearing capacity.

    Take a Class and Commune with Winter Trees
    Winter Tree ID

    The Arnold Arboretum landscape offers New England's most diverse collection of woody plants, providing an optimal environment for learning to identify trees by species. In two sessions beginning December 3 with Arborist Kyle Stephens, discover some of the markers used to identify deciduous trees after their leaves have dropped. Looking at specific character combinations, Kyle will help you name the genus and species of a number of trees abundant in the Boston area. Recommended for the beginner-to-intermediate tree observer, this class will add an impressive new layer to your plant knowledge.

    Spread Holiday Cheer with the Gift of Membership
    Gift of Membership

    Join a strong community of plant and garden enthusiasts while supporting one of Boston's premiere urban landscapes. Share the many benefits of Arboretum membership with your loved ones (or treat yourself!) and help support the Arboretum's programs for research, horticulture, and education. Members receive a year of great benefits including free plants, subscriptions to Arboretum publications, and discounts on Arboretum classes, merchandise in the Arboretum bookstore and at participating nurseries, and admittance to more than 270 gardens nationwide. For holiday gifts, please reply no later than Friday, December 9 to allow for processing and delivery.

    December Lectures Focus on Nightshades and Ginkgo
    Deadly Nightshades

    Come to the Arboretum in December to learn about fascinating plants from the experts who study them. On December 7 at 7:00pm in the Hunnewell Building, Greg Anderson from the University of Connecticut will discuss the nightshades (Solanaceae) which includes both saints (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) and sinners (tobacco, mandrake, henbane, and belladonna). On December 13 at 7:00pm at Weld Hill, Senior Research Scientist Peter Del Tredici offers an in-depth look at Ginkgo biloba, one of the oldest and most fascinating trees on the planet. Both lectures are free, but you must register in advance to reserve space.

    Plant Spotlight on Cryptomeria japonica
    Cryptomeria japonica

    Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar) has been cultivated for centuries in its native Japan as both an ornamental plant and an important source of timber. The only species in its genus, Japanese cedar grows as a cone-shaped evergreen with blue-green foliage and bright, cinnamon-red bark. Founding Director Charles Sprague Sargent characterized it in his Forest Flora of Japan as "a beautiful and stately tree which has no rival except in the sequoias of California." View examples of both the species and several cultivars in the Arboretum landscape, including a centenarian accession growing atop Hemlock Hill. Stop by the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center or download an activity guide from our website to learn more about the Japanese cedar, then follow clues to locate a hidden letterbox in the landscape.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except cycad feature image courtesy of Nathalie Nagalingum.

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    Study Finds Cycads Evolved More Recently
    Nathalie Natalingum

    The subtropical and tropical plants that comprise the cycad family (Cycadaceae) were thought to be the direct descendants of plants that thrived on Earth some 50 to 100 million years ago. A new study published in Science and led by Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum suggests that today's cycads diversified much more recently, with some 55 million years separating their diversification and the extinction of the dinosaur. Of additional interest, the study finds that all the cycad groups across the globe began to diversify at the same time, perhaps triggered by a change in climate. This history may prove important in forecasting the survival of today's cycads, which number among Earth's most endangered plants. Dr. Nagalingum's findings stem from a project funded by the National Science Foundation to resolve all non-flowering seed plants (gymnosperms) on the Tree of Life, an effort coordinated by Arnold Arboretum Sargent Fellow Sarah Mathews.

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