Scott's Botanical Links--February 2003


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February 28, 2003 - Science Friday
Each week National Public Radio broadcasts "Science Friday", a two-hour talk show that discusses science that is in the news. The host, Ira Flatow, selects and interviews experts and accepts phone calls during the live 2-4 PM (ET) broadcast every Friday. The website has links to the live broadcast (requires RealAudio streaming), past broadcasts, tape purchase, books, SciFi Kids, The Lounge, a FAQ and search engine. Online today: DNA Structure Anniversary / Farewell to Pioneer 10 (first hour) and Science and Nature Filmmaking (second hour). Past shows are also available in RealAudio streaming from the archive. NPR is available everywhere thanks to streaming on the Internet. Interesting and informative listening. (****) -S
February 27, 2003 - CDC's Fruits and Vegetables of the Month
The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion hosts the "5 A Day Fruits and Vegetables" site, which is a public/private partnership between the fruit and vegetable industry and the U. S. Government. "5 A Day" is the nutritional target for the number of fruit/vegetable servings per day--if reached, it would improve public health. There is not much drama, as the selections for the year have already been made, but useful, illustrated information is readily accessible on the various varieties of each vegetable-of-the-month and fruit-of-the-month. Each selection is several pages long, including suggestions on food preparation, recipes and nutritional information. The current February selections are beans and avocado (cabbage and pineapple for March). Site hosted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (***1/2) -S
February 26, 2003 - Lapshin's Succulent Photogallery
Although the native language of the site is Russian, there are English translations of some of the pages. This does not detract from the images at all, which include 11 well developed collections of images of selected genera, cristate and variegated succulents, the Hampton Court 2002 plant exhibition and 27 less developed collections of other genera and plant groups. Currently there are about 250 photos presented with thumbnail previews and medium resolution images (~600 X 400 pixel jpegs). Most of the images are good to very good in quality. The best parts of the site approach being encyclopedic. Site by Peter Lapshin. (***) -S
February 25, 2003 - About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products
This site, hosted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center provides objective information about various plant products that are used for their medical properties, ostensibly for oncologists and health care professionals. This site provides important information about interactions, adverse effects, details about the active ingredients, and the benefits and risks of using it. Their FAQ reports on plants that may pose a health risk, interfere with some medications, cause light sensitivity, or potential endanger unborn children. Plants provide an unpurified form of materials that pharmaceutical companies may refine into medicines. In this case, dosage, contamination, and other drug interactions are difficult to control -- this site is to enlighten and inform. As I have said before, SBLD provides no medical advice; see your doctor for that. (***1/2) -S
February 24, 2003 - Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA: A Documentary History
The remarkable history of DNA is pieced together here with over 800 scanned documents, photographs, audio clips and video. This special collection presents a day-by-day narrative of the quest to describe the chemical structure of DNA. The last week of February 1953, 50 years ago this week, was critical to the quest. On February 21, Linus Pauling published his mistaken triple helix model in Nature, giving Watson & Crick renewed hope and enthusiasm, which paid off on the 28th, when their details of the double helix were pieced together in cardboard. Excellent readings and linked reference material, this site was designed both for browsing and for scholarly research. Site by The Valley Library, Oregon State University, archive for Linus Pauling's papers. (****) -S
February 21, 2003 - Basic Microscopy-An Important Skill for Plant Pathologists
Often taken for granted in a scientific era in which high technology seems increasingly ubiquitous, this site provides what all students should know about microscopy. This site has a bit of background information and a lot of practical information about operations, parts, and procedures for operating the microscope. The quiz/worksheet provides a focus for activities. This is a well organized and written basic microscopy tutorial by Melissa B. Riley, Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology, Clemson University. The site is maintained by American Phytopathological Society. (***1/2)
February 20, 2003 - How to Go Ancient-Forest-Free - A Markets Initiative
According to the site, the "Markets Initiative works directly with Canadian companies to develop practical and economic ways to shift their wood and paper use from ancient forest products to ecologically sound alternatives." Canada, Russia and Brazil control much of the 20% of old growth forests that remain in the world. This initiative proves an 8-point program to find sustainable alternatives for cutting old growth forest, reduce consumption overall and specifically avoid providing an economic incentive for harvesting old forests by changing buying strategies. This is an attractive and well organized site, which has attracted support from a number of companies. (***) -S
February 19, 2003 - Taiga Rescue Network
Taiga is the Boreal Forest--a fragile, wet forest characterized by old and slow growth. The Taiga Rescue Network has organized a focused set of readings, including information on taiga around the world, conferences, projects, opportunities, a news update listserv (9 topic categories), and an impressive online periodical "Taiga News". There are also external links relating to the taiga. Most dramatic is the online publication "Last of the Last" at URL:, available for download as a PDF file (2.4MB, 67pp, 1999). As much of the boreal forest extends into regions of the former Soviet Union, it is politically and economically in danger. (***1/2) -S
February 18, 2003 - Crop Index
The New Crop Database at Purdue University includes both common and obscure plant crop species that number in the hundreds. Links are presented as an alphabetical list of mixed scientific and common names and can also be accessed by search engine. Each crop plant has its own page. For some plants, there are only a few lines of information, but for many plants, the coverage is pages long, quite complete and of exceptional depth and coverage. Plant images are virtually non-existent on the site currently. Site by the Center for New Crops & Plant Products, at Purdue University. (***) -S
February 17, 2003 - Medicinal Spices Exhibit - UCLA Biomedical Library
This exhibit, subtitled "Spices: Exotic Flavors and Medicines," presents pages describing what a spice is, why they were historically important, sources of spices, uses in perfumes, incense, aphrodisiacs, medicines and food, as well as a spice timeline. The "Table of Spices" presents focus pages on about 30 commonly used and historical spices, from Pepper to Frankincense and Myrrh. The site is a special exhibit of the UCLA Biomedical Library. (****) -S
February 14, 2003 - Benny's Hardy Cactus Page
Benny's Hardy Cactus Page includes much information about succulent plants in general, with pages on cultivation, cold hardiness, propagation, Opuntia hybrids, photo gallery, diseases, and a special interest in Yuccas. (His Yucca page, which is bigger, was featured August 2, 1999, and is much bigger now.) This site covers a wider range of interests than the title would indicate. Site by Benny Møller Jensen, Hjørring, Denmark, growing succulents 15 km from the North Sea! (***1/2) -S
February 13, 2003 - Grow Native!
Grow Native! is a website organized by to encourage growing native plants in the State of Missouri, which are well adapted to local conditions, have fewer diseases, need less fertilizer and water, tend to be self maintaining. Expert advice is providedd by "Private Land Conservationists" (PLC) who provide expert advice, county-by-county. The most practical link is "Plant Info"--a nice collection of about 200 FAQs on plants given by species, lighting conditions, or alternative species. A calendar, list of vendors (where to buy natives) and resources from the Internet or for purchase are also available. Site by Missouri Department of Conservation. (***1/2) -S
February 12, 2003 - Darwin Day
Two great people were born on this same day 194 years ago in 1809: Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. This commemorates the former, with a nation-by-nation, state-by-state list of activities planned for Charles Darwin's birthday. The site also includes educational outreach, learning links, arts & leisure (science entertainers, plays, poetry, science-inspired cartoons, Darwin's garden, and wallpaper designs. There are postcards available, but these unfortunately are not online. This is an interesting site to visit on Darwin's birthday. He most likely would be shocked at the emotional reaction that his name inspires. (***1/2) -S
February 11, 2003 - Hort.Net
Hort.Net is a gardening community in itself. Although it is still in development, it contains a large collection of plant images (over 3100 images--and these are not just links!), 15 plant profiles (must be under development), 22 mailing lists, current plant news and selected links on the web (over 500). Images on the site are of very high to excellent quality, medium-sized images (~300 x 200 pixels); copyright is held by the photographer. The plant news page has interesting and sometimes offbeat news stories, which would be pretty hard to find. To use the mailing lists, you will need to register. Site by Mallorn Computing. (***1/2) -S
February 10, 2003 - Powers of Ten
From intergalactic space to the interior of a proton in the atomic nucleus of carbon in an oak leaf in Tallahassee, this site documents what it means to travel from a scale of 10 million light years (10+23 meters) to 100 attometers (10-16 meters). This site requires Macromedia Flash Player, but it is worth the time investment of the download (the plug-in is free). This remarkable slide show is an adaptation of a 1977 film by the same name (see review at URL: It is still a breathtaking concept, and also illustrates why only the metric system can handle this challenge. (****) -S
February 7, 2003 - Celebrating 50 Years of DNA
It is hard to believe that 50 years ago, the belief that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was the genetic material was not yet universally accepted. With only 4 bases (ACGT), how could DNA possibly contain enough information to hold a genome? how could it be reliably replicated for each new cell? This was the question that James Watson and Francis Crick worked on 50 years ago, and ultimately they resolved on February 28, 1953. The information was sequential, and the molecule in its double helix could be a template for itself! This web site includes the original paper in Nature, a genetics timeline, an archive, more readings in genetics and DNA-inspired artwork, not to mention the social events to commemorate the occasion. For full utility, the Macromedia Flash Player is required, but there is a lot of information that even old browsers can access. This site is by Cold Spring Harbor, where Dr. Watson spent much of his career, as Director from 1968-94 and President ever since. (***1/2) -S
February 6, 2003 - Index to Plant Chromosome Numbers (IPCN)
IPCN is an NSF-funded project that indexes plant chromosome numbers of naturally occurring and cultivated plants from the world literature. Selections are listed by family, and then by scientific name. No common names are listed, but if you are looking for chromosome numbers, whether sporophytic, gametophytic or the base number for the group, it is listed on this site, with references. This is hosted by the Missouri Botanical Garden. (***1/2) -S
February 5, 2003 - Actionbioscience: Biodiversity
This site presents invited essays of general interest in the topic of biodiversity -- a critical issue, particularly given man's continued enroachment of natural areas, need for new bioproducts and alarmingly high rates of extinction in plants & animals. Among the most prominent writers of our time write on the featured topics of: Diversity of species, Bioprospecting/Biopiracy, Endangered species, Microorganisms, and New frontiers. A "Students speak out" section and related articles from other areas of Actionbioscience complete the links on the main page. Each of these provides an insightful perspective on the science of biodiversity and necessity to retain & promote diversity as a means of ensuring a good future for humans as well as other species. (****) -S
February 4, 2003 - is an educational site about life and the history of exploration of Australia. Although the web site is designed mainly for grades 7-12, it contains many spectacular images and information suitable for beginning undergraduates. Featured topics include: an Introduction, History, Environment, Biology, Adaptation, Human Impact, References, Teachers, and Biosci 100. There is not enough on plants (in my opinion), but the site presents an interesting perspective on one of the most remote places on Earth. This site is hosted by University of Auckland, NZ. (***1/2) -S
February 3, 2003 - ICUC - Fruits for the Future
This effort by the International Centre for Underutilised Crops (ICUC) is part of a three-year project to identify tropical fruit trees to improve diet quality and fodder, fuel, timber and medicine for local small-holders. The following species were identified: Ziziphus mauritiana (Ber), Tamarindus indica (Tamarind), Dacryodes edulis (African Pear), Adansonia digitata (Baobab), and Annona species (Cherimoya, sweet and sour sops, custard apples and other species). The plan is to summarize the plant biology of these species to help popularize their use. This is the aim, but currently the site is just a bibliography of other people's work. Site by ICUC, University of Southampton. (***) -S

Past, past links (by date):

2006: January
2005: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2003: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2002: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2001: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2000: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1999: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1998: January*, February*, March*, April*, May*, June*, July, August, September, October, November, December   (*Leigh's links)
1997: January, February, March, April, May, June, September*, October*, November*, December*    (*Leigh's links)
1996: February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Or search by: Subject Index