Happy Beltane, everyone!
Crepis virens (Hawk’s Beard, aka garden weed). Flora Batava (Plants of the Netherlands, 1877), Vol. 15.
Crepis Virens: “Crepis, Pliny, is from the Greek crepis, a kind of boot; and the second Latin name means green, fresh. It was called Hawkbit because the hawk was supposed to pluck it and smear its eyes with it to improve its vision.” ~British Wildflowers in Their Natural Haunts (1919)
The cherry blossoms are fading, but the tulips are starting to bloom here in DC, and in our seed and nursery catalog collection.
32,000-Year-Old Plant Brought Back to Life—Oldest Yet
Feat may help scientists preserve seeds for the future.
Published February 21, 2012
The oldest plant ever to be regenerated has been grown from 32,000-year-old seeds—beating the previous recordholder by some 30,000 years. (Related: “‘Methuselah’ Tree Grew From 2,000-Year-Old Seed.”)
A Russian team discovered a seed cache of Silene stenophylla, a flowering plant native to Siberia, that had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel near the banks of the Kolyma River (map). Radiocarbon dating confirmed that the seeds were 32,000 years old.
The mature and immature seeds, which had been entirely encased in ice, were unearthed from 124 feet (38 meters) below the permafrost, surrounded by layers that included mammoth, bison, and woolly rhinoceros bones.
The mature seeds had been damaged—perhaps by the squirrel itself, to prevent them from germinating in the burrow. But some of the immature seeds retained viable plant material.
The team extracted that tissue from the frozen seeds, placed it in vials, and successfully germinated the plants, according to a new study. The plants—identical to each other but with different flower shapes from modern S. stenophylla—grew, flowered, and, after a year, created seeds of their own.
“I can’t see any intrinsic fault in the article,” said botanist Peter Raven, President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, who was not involved in the study. “Though it’s such an extraordinary report that of course you’d want to repeat it.”
Raven is also head of National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration. (The Society owns National Geographic News.)
My beloved narrow-leafed campion!!!
In the 1500s, illuminator Joris Hoefnagel rendered flowers and plants with a botanical precision unmatched in his day. It’s tempting to imagine each of Hoefnagel’s natural wonders growing in the gardens cultivated at the imperial court of Rudolf II, his patron.
Pages from Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta, one of the Getty’s most precious (and, at 6 9/16 inches high, tiniest) manuscripts:
- Butterfly, Snakeshead, English Walnut, and Sweet Cherry
- Four-O’Clock, Brown Hairstreak, Herb Robert, and Chanterelle
- Martagon Lily and Tomato
Jacquin, N.J. von, Florae austriaceae, vol. 3: t. 242 (1775)
via the Library of Congress
Turtle Bay Gardens, 227-47 East 48th Street and 242-46 East 49th Street, New York, New York.