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COMPOST 3—GLEANINGS FROM THE WEB
COMPILED BY WAYNE HANDLOS
Google has a feature which allows you to be notified of websites that use certain keywords that you
designate. The following selections are from the “Alerts”, which have arrived over the past year. The
links take you to the sites, serious, frivolous occasionally almost scandalous and frequently irrelevant.
CCGS does not endorse any product mentioned here. Editorial comments are in italicizedbold Arial type.
Simon Schama of theFinancial Times has written an entertaining review of the
bookThe Founding Gardeners: How the Revolutionary Generation Created an
American Eden(Andrea Wulf, William Heinemann Publishers, 384 pp.) The book is
about the American founding fathers and their involvement with horticulture and agriculture.
One of the reviewers better lines is“At times, Wulf’s writing gets so floridly
fragrant you long for the literary equivalent of skunk cabbage. ‘As winter
passed the baton to spring and lilacs readied themselves for their scented bloom
Thomas Jefferson ached for nature.’ Whooah, steady on with those lilacs!”While
you may think twice about reading the book, the review is very entertaining.
The Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area has an excellent site with
illustrations of the plants growing wild there. This website
will bring you to the section picturing the species of Geraniaceae that grow wild in
southern California, including the genera California, Erodium and Geranium.
Browse the site for lots of other beautiful images.
In the October 2010 issue ofGreenhouse Grower magazine there is an article
about ‘Preventing Geranium Leaf Yellowing’ by James E. Faust, Allison Justice,
Vijay Rapaka and Kelly Lewis. .http://www.greenhousegrower.com/magazine/?storyid=3787#
Three factors contributing to leaf yellowing of cuttings include, cultivar sensitivity,
respiration and ethylene. They note that red flowered cultivars are more resistant
to leaf yellowing but white, pink and lavender ones are more sensitive to yellowing.
Cuttings produce ethylene when wounded. The ethylene then contributes to
the yellowing process. Also when the larger leaves export their sugars to the
base of the stem for root production the leaves turn yellow. Yellowing of leaves
after the first week of propagation may be due to a nitrogen deficiency.
The South Africa National Biodiversity Institute has an excellent site with illustrations
and descriptions of native South African plants. The following description
gives an idea of the information about each species on their website.
0.75 m. The glaucous stem is soft smooth and shiny. The foliage is attractive, smooth and glaucous.
The dull grayish green leaves are deeply palmately lobed, usually 5 cm long and 8 cm wide. The
leaf margins are coarsely toothed and some of the leaves have a brownish zonal marking. The fairly large and beautiful flowers
vary from creamish-white to pink with darker blotches on the upper two petals.Pelargonium grandiflorum flowers from August to January.”
The site includes many species ofPelargonium.
Her article on trueGeraniums is very informative and well illustrated. While she gardens in moist,
zone 5 the pictures are worth the visit.
wholesale plant nursery in South Africa specializing in their native plants. Many excellent
illustrations cover many plants indigenous to South Africa. It is well worth visiting.
The following headline was an eyecatcher for me:
A plant killer sinks her hands in soil and transforms -- eventually --
into a real gardener.The columnist is Kimberly A.C. Wilson writing in The Oregonian.
She is one funny lady and the article is worth reading as she chronicles many of the
mistakes that we all have made.
I particularly liked the following quotation: “By the end of Year One of Gardening
Foolishly, I remained deeply ignorant of the green life.I speak
French and English, and my stabs at gardening felt like some immersiontherapy
among a group that spoke only Finnish.”
(‘Reunion’, ‘Bourbon’ and ‘Egyptian’). It includes information about the composition
of the geranium oil differences among the three cultivars, as well as information
about the issue culture of these cultivars. The authors are Rashmi P.
Tembe and Manisushri A. Deodhar. While the article is a technical paper, it includes
much basic information about this important crop. (200 tons of geranium oil are used in
India each year!)
With $2.4 Million Grant, Researchers to Decode Geranium's Evolutionary Mysteries
Oct. 25, 2010
AUSTIN, Texas — Botany researcher Dr. Robert Jansen and his colleagues have received a four-year,
$2.4 million grant from the Plant GenomeProgram of the National Science Foundation to investigate the
genomes of the geranium plant and 15 related species. The scientists want to understand why the DNA
in these species have shown so much more rapid change over the course of their evolution than is typical for
plants."They're a natural set of mutants," says Jansen, the Blake Centennial Professor in Systematic Botany
at The University of Texas at Austin. "There are phenomena going on in the chloroplast and in the mitochondria
of the geranium family that are not occurring elsewhere in the entire plant kingdom. They evolve very rapidly,
and there's an incredible amount of variation in terms of how the genomes are organized." Jansen and his
co-investigators first documented how truly unusual these species were in terms of their variation and the
speed of their evolution.
In the earlier work, however, the labs were looking at the chloroplast and mitochondrial DNA in isolation from
each other and not looking at nuclear DNA at all. In this new project, they'll sequence the DNA in 14 members
of theGeraniaceae and two related families. The data will be compared across the targeted species, and
across chloroplast, mitochondrial and nuclear genomes, to investigate how the different compartments of
the plant cell communicate with each other, and how they might have evolved in concert. "The three genomes
interact extensively, and lots of proteins are encoded in the nucleus and then transported to the chloroplast
and mitochondria," says Jansen. "We hypothesize that the genes involved in the unusual phenomena are
likely to be those connected to DNA repair and recombination. They're located in the nucleus, but they function
in the chloroplast and mitochondria." If candidate genes can be identified, says Jansen, they'll be compared to
similar genes in species that don't exhibit the unique traits of the geranium family. The results are expected to
improve our understanding of the genes and mechanisms involved in communication among different compart-
ments within all plant cells. The research may also contribute to the economic impact of the geranium, which
contributes $4 billion annually to the worldwide economy, roughly half of that occurring in this country.
The project will have a significant outreach component. Jansen and Tracey Ruhlman, a postdoctoral fellow in
Jansen's lab who's a co-investigator on the grant, are creating a "research mini-stream" in the College of
Natural Sciences Freshman Research Initiative. Jansen's lab will recruit high school students for summer
research internships. Teacher training workshops will be offered each year and specific teacher training modules
will be developed in cooperation with public service groups, such as the Texas Natural Science Center, University
of Nebraska State Museum and the Wonderlab Museum of Science in Bloomington, Ind. Other investigators include
Jeffrey P. Mower from The University of Nebraska and Jeffrey D. Palmer from Indiana University.