Plant of the Month

Cyclamen hederifolium

cyclamen-hederifolium-pink-form-iiThe natural world is filled with fascinating inter-organism relationships that range from detrimental, in the case of parasites or predators, to mutually symbiotic. Parasitism is fascinating in its own right, but I find the relationships that have evolved over millennia that benefit both organisms involved to assist each other are some of the most interesting stories biology can offer. One in particular I am interested in discussing is the phenomenon of Myrmecochory, and particularly as it pertains to the herbaceous perennial species Cyclamen hederifolium.

Coming from the ancient Greek roots myrmex meaning “ant” and chore meaning “dance,” it …

Continue reading »



The Terry Shane Teaching Garden has many exciting moments throughout the growing season, but one of my personal favorites is when the hardy Hibiscus begins to flower. It brings a major accent to the garden outside of the Off Campus Study Office.

The flower bud of HIbiscus 'Lord Baltimore' will open for one day. photo credit: J. Bickel

The flower bud of HIbiscus ‘Lord Baltimore’ will open for one day. photo credit: J. Bickel

Hibiscus and other members of the family Malvaceae always have an added bonus with their specific and peculiar floral anatomy. All genera in this family exhibit some type of staminal fusion. The most common staminal fusion is know as “synfilamentous connation.” This …

Continue reading »

Franklinia alatamaha

Franklinia alatamaha JTB [2]This July marks the 240th anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, cutting ties with the tyrannical imperial monarchy that was Great Britain in an effort to create a new independent nation of the unified 13 colonies.  Because of this anniversary, it seems apropos to talk about a plant that has ties to some important characters from that period in American history.

Franklinia altamaha; 91-190A

Franklinia grows as single-trunk or, sometimes, a suckering multi-stem shrub with a loosely pyramidal crown. photo credit: D. Mattis

The history of the discovery Franklinia alatamaha is tied to the history of two Philadelphia …

Continue reading »