In Our Hands Forests Sleep

lynx-la-balsaminaProbably from the botanical manuscripts of Federico Angelo Cesi (1585 – 1630), founder of the Accademia dei Lincei

 
Protea montana
 is a threatened species from the very highest peaks of the Western Cape of South Africa.
A fluffy seed coat allows it to be blown – after a fire has released it from the prison of a dead flower head – to a site where the same fluff allows it to corkscrew into the shallow soil and wait for winter rain.

For a thing so small, a seed bears a heavy burden: the future existence of its species.
If things go wrong for the seed, it could mean potential extinction.

Each plant species produces its own unique and beautiful seeds.
Beyond that beauty and uniqueness are the processes that place them into dormancy until the conditions are just right, distribute them, bring them out of their stasis and cause them to germinate.
Then each has its  pollination process allowing it to produce more seeds.

Mimetes stokoei
, the mace pagoda, has been declared extinct twice because there were no actual plants of this species growing anywhere on Earth.
What wasn’t considered at the time was that the mace pagoda had placed its entire future security as a species
on seed buried just under the surface of the soil, and was waiting for the right kind of fire to trigger germination.

Hope, so inextricably tied up in seeds, has led to them being one of our most important backup plans for the planet, and so humanity.
There are people out there all over the world busily collecting and storing seed; guardians of our future.
The wild relatives of our crops, endangered species, and culturally important varieties, are all important to seed-bankers.
In some countries, it’s the only way to preserve the sheer levels of genetic diversity there now.

We don’t really know what the future holds, so we must cover all bases.
On the day when we need to put endangered species back into restored habitats, or bring back genetic diversity to our crops, we will have all that potential locked away in the form of a seed.

Ecosystem restoration projects across the globe depend entirely on seed, along with the people collecting them and those who know how to grow them.
With some forethought, often on the part of enlightened governments, people are coming together to make sure the possibilities of seeds are realised.
In Thailand, rainforest is being restored using seed bombs dropped from army planes.
In the USA the Native Seed Network and the Plant Conservation Alliance are bringing together a united force of native seed collectors, growers, and landscape restoration experts in an attempt, fostered by the Obama government through its National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration, to make sure all degraded habitats are restored using seed of local provenance as a matter of utmost urgency.

 

Robbie Blackhall-Miles is a plantsman and conservationist. He tweets as @fossilplants.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2017/jan/13/seeds-little-time-capsules-that-could-secure-our-future?CMP=share_btn_tw#comment-91392416

https://secretgardening.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/the-seed-shop/

 

Carrie Gooseberries

gooseberries
Amanda Almira Newton (1860-1943)

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE POMOLOGICAL WATERCOLOR COLLECTION RARE AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
,

Study Of A Cucumber, With Its Leaves

jacques-le-moyne-(de-morgues)-a-cucumber,-with-its-leaves-(study)
Jacques le Moyne de Morgues (1533 – 1588
)

 

Bucks County Landscape

Wm Lathrop
William Langson Lathrop (1859–1938)

 

Butterfly – Ten Percent Remain

Butterfly detail

Monarch populations down 90% in 20 yrs. They need help, @USFWSHQ. Add them to the threatened species list under ESA! http://bit.ly/ProtectMonarchs

Brambles

rubus isham
Artist: Schutt, Ellen Isham, 1873-1955
Scientific name: Rubus
Common name: brambles
Variety: Eaton
Geographic origin: Leslie, Ingham County, Michigan, United States

De Wonderen

de wonderenJan Sepp (1739-1811)

Monarch butterflies need milkweed. It is the only plant they can lay their eggs on and that the caterpillars can eat.

But the combination of genetically engineered corn and soy and weed killers like Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has wiped out nearly all the milkweed that used to grow along the monarchs’ migratory routes, leaving the butterflies nowhere to lay their eggs

Every fall, for thousands of years, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies have taken to the skies, flying more than 2,500 miles across Canada and the U.S. to reach their winter home in the thick forests of tall oyamel fir trees that grow in Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains.

This winter, only 33.5 million butterflies made it to Mexico – the lowest level ever reported.

Like honey bees and other pollinators, monarch butterflies are now in crisis, with populations plummeting dramatically since the introduction of herbicide-ready corn and soybean crops in 1997.

They may disappear. Soon.

The huge increase in the usage of GMO crops and the toxic herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup that accompany them is a major culprit for the monarch’s disappearance, along with rapid deforestation in Mexico and extreme weather caused by climate chaos.

The world needs monarch butterflies. But they can’t survive without milkweed. And milkweed can’t survive weed-killing chemicals . . .

Tell the USDA and the EPA to adopt tough restrictions on pesticide-resistant crops and the toxic herbicides responsible for the rapid disappearance of monarchs.

No One Immune

insectsMatthäus Merian der Ältere  (1593 – 1650)

 

Our Bees, Ourselves
by Mark Winston, Op-ed contributor, The New York Times

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — AROUND the world, honeybee colonies are dying in huge numbers: About one-third of hives collapse each year, a pattern going back a decade.

Honeybee collapse has been particularly vexing because there is no one cause. The main elements include the compounding impact of pesticides applied to fields, as well as pesticides applied directly into hives to control mites; fungal, bacterial and viral pests and diseases; nutritional deficiencies caused by vast acreages of single-crop fields that lack diverse flowering plants; and, in the United States, commercial beekeeping itself, which disrupts colonies by moving most bees around the country multiple times each year to pollinate crops.

The real issue, though, is not the volume of problems, but the interactions among them. Here we find a core lesson from the bees that we ignore at our peril: the concept of synergy. A typical honeybee colony contains residue from more than 120 pesticides; together they form a toxic soup of chemicals whose interplay can substantially reduce the effectiveness of bees’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to diseases.

These findings provide the most sophisticated data set available for any species about synergies among pesticides, and between pesticides and disease. The only human equivalent is research into pharmaceutical interactions, with many prescription drugs showing harmful or fatal side effects when used together, particularly in patients who already are disease-compromised. Pesticides have medical impacts as potent as pharmaceuticals do, yet we know virtually nothing about their synergistic impacts on our health, or their interplay with human diseases.

Observing the tumultuous demise of honeybees should alert us that our own well-being might be similarly threatened. The honeybee is a remarkably resilient species that has thrived for 40 million years, and the widespread collapse of so many colonies presents a clear message: We must demand that our regulatory authorities require studies on how exposure to low dosages of combined chemicals may affect human health before approving compounds.

Bees also provide some clues to how we may build a more collaborative relationship with the services that ecosystems can provide. Beyond honeybees, there are thousands of wild bee species that could offer some of the pollination service needed for agriculture. Yet feral bees — that is, bees not kept by beekeepers — also are threatened by factors similar to those afflicting honeybees: heavy pesticide use, destruction of nesting sites by overly intensive agriculture and a lack of diverse nectar and pollen sources thanks to highly effective weed killers, which decimate the unmanaged plants that bees depend on for nutrition.

Recently, my laboratory at Simon Fraser University conducted a study on farms that produce canola oil that illustrated the profound value of wild bees. We discovered that crop yields, and thus profits, are maximized if considerable acreages of cropland are left uncultivated to support wild pollinators.

Such logic goes against conventional wisdom that fields and bees alike can be uniformly micromanaged. The current challenges faced by managed honeybees and wild bees remind us that we can manage too much. Excessive cultivation, chemical use and habitat destruction eventually destroy the very organisms that could be our partners.

And this insight goes beyond mere agricultural economics. There is a lesson in the decline of bees about how to respond to the most fundamental challenges facing contemporary human societies. We can best meet our own needs if we maintain a balance with nature — a balance that is as important to our health and prosperity as it is to the bees.

The Fragile Populations

1280px-Studies_of_Flowers_and_Butterflies,_watercolor_painting_on_parchment_by_Joris_Hoefnagel,_Flanders,_1590,_HAA

Sharp Decline of the Monarch Butterfly

A new census found this winter’s population of North American monarch butterflies in Mexico was at the lowest level ever measured. University of Kansas insect ecologist Orley R. Taylor talks to Yale Environment 360 about how the planting of genetically modified crops and the resulting use of herbicides has contributed to the monarchs’ decline.

Taylor talked about the factors that have led to the sharp drop in the monarch population. Among them is the increased planting of genetically modified corn in the U.S. Midwest, which has led to greater use of herbicides, which in turn kills the milkweed that is a prime food source for the butterflies.

“What we’re seeing here in the United States,” he said, “is a very precipitous decline of monarchs that’s coincident with the adoption of Roundup-ready corn and soybeans.
The glyphosate used in agriculture has tripled since 1997, when they first introduced these Roundup-ready crops. The developers of these crops not only provided the seeds that were glyphosate-resistant, but they also provided the glyphosate — the Roundup. And, boy, that was a pretty good system. You could make money on both, right?

It’s a collateral damage issue. And one of the things that we’re worried about now is that it looks like there’s going to be a lot of collateral damage from the use of various herbicides and pesticides coming down.’

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tracking_the_causes_of_sharp__decline_of_the_monarch_butterfly/2634/


In fact, insects such as butterflies, moths, bumblebees and mayflies have been disappearing for a long time, although hardly anyone except specialists has noticed or cared . . . http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/michael-mccarthy-this-isnt-just-about-bees-ndash-it-affects-everything-2189269.html

https://secretgardening.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/bees-facing-a-poisoned-spring/

Lemon and Seville Orange Fruits

l & o seville fruits jlmdm

Jacques le Moyne de Morgues (c. 1533–1588)