Scott's Botanical Links--January 2003


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Past links:

January 31, 2003 -
This site features information about plants native to southern Africa. The site includes: Plants of SA, Vegetation of SA, Using SA Plants, From the Archives, Miscellaneous Info as well as a site search. The plants site includes images, plant information and growing the plant. Since this is part of the Gondwana flora, visitors from Europe, Asia and North America will find many plants to be unfamiliar. The site also provide thumbnail images of plants of the week from Kirstenbosch NBG and Witwatersrand NBG. This site is sponsored by the National Botanical Institute SA. (***1/2) -S
January 30, 2003 - Plants Database (part of Dave's Garden)
The Plants Database is part of Dave's Garden, which includes a variety of sub-sites involving plants and gardening. The Plants Database is principally images and plant data; it currently contains 12,422 images and 54,527 plants. Each of the data pages contains a description and a bulletin board for comment, discussion and commentary, with over 51,000 registered users. This is an impressive and well managed site. Each discussion posting needs to be critically evaluated though -- using the discussions there as a primary reference material is not advised! This site is an interesting model for an open architecture site with a rapidly increasing number of images. (***) -S
January 29, 2003 - Bioinformatics.Org
Bioinformatics.Org is an international organization promoting freedom and open exchange of data, databases, software and supporting resources relative to particular types of biological information. Bioinformatics includes all computer and supporting technologies involved in the analysis and use of the complex life sciences data available from molecular biology studies. This website is a central component in Bioinformatics.Org's goal is to provide "...access to cutting-edge resources can be prohibitively expensive for those working individually, in small groups, at poorly-funded institutions or in developing nations." Most interesting for beginners will be the discussion groups (currently 98 with over 5000 users). There is help for everyone here. A login is needed, but free. This is a very geek-oriented site with alarming terseness in some places, but exceptional for many topics. Site by (***) -S
January 28, 2003 - PlantWatch Canada
PlantWatch is part of NatureWatch, part of Canada's national effort to identify and observe environmental change through volunteer monitoring programs. PlantWatch is a joint venture between the Canadian Nature Federation and Environment Canada's Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network Coordinating Office (EMANCO). Pages on the site address why plants should be monitored, how to plantwatch, identifying plants, field training, a FAQ, an observation submission page, and a results one. The site accumulates plant occurrence and phenology data for a myriad of plants. Site by NatureWatch. (***1/2) -S
January 27, 2003 - Trees of Kern County, California
This is a small part of "Nature Ali" centering on Kern County trees and woody species (129 species/subspecies listed, 81 native species, 22 subspecies, and 26 exotic). Information, including names, distribution, descriptions, habitat, images, migration status, locations and reference page numbers, are provided. Much of the information is from CalFlora, rounded out by numerous original photo and observations. This information rich site is a nice model for a local checklist. For (much) more on Kern County, don't miss the links at the bottom of the page. Site by Alison M. Sheehey. (***1/2) -S
January 24, 2003 - Manual of Leaf Architecture
The "Manual of Leaf Architecture" assembled by the Leaf Architecture Working Group is a 65 page guide to the organization of angiosperm leaf organization. The terminology is beyond encyclopedic, providing microcategorization of seemingly every macroscopically recognizable aspect of leaf structure. This truly defines the limits of leaf variability in the flowering plants. This brochure is available as a large (4.1 MB) PDF file (requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader) or on paper for $5. Copyright 1999, by the Leaf Architecture Working Group, which includes Amanda Ash (Smithsonian), Beth Ellis (Boulder), Leo J. Hickey (Yale), Kirk Johnson (Denver Museum NH), Peter Wilf (Penn State), and Scott Wing (Smithsonian). (****) -S
January 23, 2003 - AGBIOS :: GM Database
This link provides direct access to a comprehensive database on genetically-modified crops provided by AGBIOS, a Canadian company "dedicated to providing public policy, regulatory, and risk assessment expertise for products of biotechnology." The database is search engine-driven with categories that include event names, crop plants, traits, inserted genes, types of approval, country of origin and original developer. Considerable scientific information is provided on this site. Readings on priniciples and practice of environmental safety assessment of transgenic plants, safety of GM livestock feed, novel food safety assessment and regulation of GM agricultural products are among the information materials available. Site by AGBIOS. (****) -S
January 22, 2003 - Is This Poison Ivy?
If you teach a course on plants, you are likely to encounter the question of how to identify poison ivy. The vine-like habit and trimerous leaves are obvious to a "botanist", but there are other small woody objects that have three leaflets. This site discriminates between Virginia creeper and poison ivy, providing additional links to dermatitis sites, additional images and USDA's hints on identifying, counteracting contact with, and eliminating poison ivy. A fun and visual one-page site by Leigh Fulghum. (***) -S
January 21, 2003 - Ricin Toxin from Castor Bean Plant, Ricinus communis
The recent arrest of terrorists in the United Kingdom for trying to isolate ricin from the castor bean, Ricinus communis, is certainly a surprise economic botany story (see, for example). Each castor bean carries some of this toxin, so botanists have always warned gardeners to keep children away and to destroy the flowers (to prevent seed production). All in all, it is not a likely choice for a terrorist weapon. This page explains the chemical basis of poisoning and why it takes days to kill (it inactivates ribosomes). Still there are medical uses. This is from Cornell's poisonous plants page, first featured Feb. 13, 1997. (****) -SR
January 20, 2003 - George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver (~1864-1943) was one of the nation's most accomplished agricultural researchers, responsible for 325 products from peanuts, over 100 for sweet potatoes and more from other native plants of the South. His most famous household invention is peanut butter--a high energy, high protein food high in unsaturated oils, though the practice of crop rotation is likely his most important. His formal education was at Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now Iowa State University), where he was the first African American to enroll, graduating in 1894. This commemorative site includes a brief overview, his accomplishments and photographs from special collections. (***1/2) -S
January 17, 2003 - International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain
Banana is the fourth most important food crop after rice, wheat, and corn -- a popular crop on small farms in developing countries, and one on which many people survive. Unfortunately, bananas are rapidly being destroyed by a fungal disease called black Sigatoka that is devastating crops in Africa and Latin America. The International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) was created in response to this outbreak and to coordinate wordwide efforts to establish germplasm reserves and powerful molecular tools that will include the entire Musa genome sequence. This site contains anything you would ever want to know about bananas! The publications section requires the free Acrobat Reader. Each file that I looked at was visually rich, colorful, well illustrated, professional constructed (science and artwork!) and very informative. It is interesting to read about how to protect an entirely clonal crop plant, as (we all should know) bananas never produce seed. (****) -SR

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
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