March Banner
March 2011


In this issue
  • Arboretum Helps Quantify Endangered Collections
  • Director's Lectures Spotlight Ecology and Evolution
  • Spicebush Offered as 2011 Member Plant Dividend
  • Director Ned Friedman Named AAAS Fellow
  • Plant Spotlight on Acer saccharinum
  • March Adult Classes Feature Seeds, Water, and Soil
  • Tree Pieces: A Collage Exhibition by Merill Comeau
  • Flower Show Preview Party Benefits Parks

  • Director's Lectures Spotlight Ecology and Evolution
    Alan Townsend and Judge John Jones

    Space is limited, so register today for the final two talks in the Arboretum's new lecture series, organized by director Ned Friedman. On Monday, February 28 at 6:30pm, join Alan Townsend from the University of Colorado-Boulder for an eye-opening look at humanity's relationship with nitrogen. Hear how this element has played a pivotal role in both helping and hindering efforts to improve global agriculture, and how ecologically-favorable solutions are still possible.

    Arboretum members only are invited to a talk on Monday, March 28 at 6:30pm focused on the intersection of science and Constitutional law. In a landmark 2005 case, Judge John Jones ruled that teaching the concept of intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution is unconstitutional. Hear how the reaction to his controversial opinion has influenced his passion for both judicial independence and improved civics education in America.

    Spicebush Offered as 2011 Member Plant Dividend
    Lindera benzoin

    Each spring, the Arnold Arboretum offers members at the Sustaining level ($100) and above the opportunity to receive and grow a woody plant from our greenhouses. This year's plant dividend, Lindera benzoin, is a shrub in the laurel family and native to eastern North America. Small but attractive yellow flowers appear in April before the plant leafs out. Spicebush is little bothered by pests or diseases and excels in the autumn, when its light green summer leaves turn yellow to gold in color. Qualifying members should look for a plant dividend letter in March, with additional information and a plant request form. Plants are shipped in early April or can be picked up on Members' Tour Day on Saturday, May 21.

    Director Ned Friedman Named AAAS Fellow
    Ned Friedman

    In December, Arboretum director Ned Friedman was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Ned was among 15 Harvard faculty members inducted as AAAS Fellows in a ceremony on February 19. Recognized for his important contributions to the study of angiosperm evolutionary development biology, Ned received a certificate and the Association's blue and gold rosette as a symbol of his distinguished accomplishments.

    Plant Spotlight on Acer saccharinum
    Acer saccharinum

    One of the most common trees in America, the silver maple (Acer saccharinum) is also among the first trees to flower each spring at the Arboretum. Though they are small and lack petals, the greenish-yellow to red flowers open in clusters in mid-to-late March to add a bit of color to the late winter landscape. In maturity the gray-brown bark can become deeply furrowed and even somewhat shaggy. Silver maple grows rapidly even in tough locations. A centenarian located on the edge of Meadow Road stands at over 120 feet, thought to be the tallest tree in the Arboretum.

    March Adult Classes Feature Seeds, Water, and Soil

    To grow plants, all you need is seed, water, and soil. Take a class this March at the Arboretum and learn about all three. Join Arboretum plant propagator Jack Alexander on Saturday, March 19 for an exploration of the techniques for successful germination, from annuals and perennials to trees and shrubs. Water is the crucial ingredient of life, but when is enough water not enough to meet consumer demand? Rivers advocate Russ Cohen of the MA Department of Ecological Restoration will explain how and why our water supply is insufficient to support our ecosystem in a lecture on Monday, March 21. All landscapes begin with soil, and contemporary landscape designers employ a multitude of new approaches to increase sustainability. Join Bob Pine and John Swallow on Wednesday, March 23 for a discussion of manufactured soils.

    Tree Pieces: A Collage Exhibition by Merill Comeau
    Merill Comeau collage

    To artist Merill Comeau, the cacophony and chaos of plant life parallels our shared human experience of coping with a complex and shifting environment. In the large-scale fabric collages featured in her Arboretum exhibition, Tree Pieces, she makes use of incongruous materials with past lives: brush cleaning rags, a blouse, old sheets, plastic mesh bags, vintage linens, and colorful fabric samples. The complexity of the work is compelling from a distance, but also draws viewers closer to engage in the sensual surfaces. Join the artist at an opening reception on Saturday, March 12 from 1:00 to 3:00pm, and at an artist talk on Wednesday, March 30 at 6:30pm.

    Flower Show Preview Party Benefits Parks
    Boston Flower & Garden Show

    Arboretum director Ned Friedman is among the honorary co-chairs of the March 15 preview party for the Boston Flower and Garden Show. Tickets for the event, held at the Seaport World Trade Center, will benefit Boston's Fund for Parks and Recreation. Enjoy a cocktail reception, delicious fare from local restaurants, and an exclusive look at the show's landscaped gardens, container garden displays, and colorful amateur competitions.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except GSPC report cover by BGCI-US, Townsend and Jones photographs courtesy of the speakers, silver maple photo courtesy of Bob Mayer, Comeau exhibition image courtesy of the artist, and Boston Flower & Garden Show image courtesy of BFGS.

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    Arboretum Helps Quantify Endangered Collections
    Conserving NA Endangered Plants

    Nearly 10,000 of North America's plant species are currently threatened with extinction. A continent-wide assessment of plant collections, conducted by the Arnold Arboretum, Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S., and the U.S. Botanic Garden, found that only 39 percent of these endangered species are safeguarded in botanical institutions. A report of the project's results, Conserving North America's Threatened Plants, argues for an escalation of efforts to acquire rare species not currently represented in seed banks or living collections to insure against future loss. The project represents an important step in engaging North American institutions to contribute to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), which has set a goal of conserving 75 percent of known threatened species on the continent by 2020.

    Find out more about conserving rare species...
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