Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Biological Life

Image result for checkermallow

Environmental & Science Education
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

What is it like to be a biologist whose passion is the conservation of rare plants?

First, please take a look at the Botany Photo of the Day's entry on Sidalcea hendersonii, a checkermallow. The entry notes that it is native to British Columbia (where it is blue-listed), Washington, and Oregon (extremely rare). Once common in tidal marshes and meadows where it did occur, it is now estimated that fewer than 100 populations remain.

Hendeerson's checkermallow belongs to the plant family known as the Malvaceae. Some of its members include okra, cotton, cacao and a plant you may have in your backyard or is found in your neighborhood, the hollyhock. It is a personal favorite. I don't think I remember a farmhouse where I grew up without at least one plant on a house or barn corner. You will likely notice similarities with Henderson's checkermallow and hollyhock.

A list of some of the plants found in this family is found here.  The root of one of them, the marsh mallow, is the source of the confection known as the marshmallow.

BPOD includes a link to a paper on the natural, botanical and conservation history of Henderson's checkermallow. On page 7 you will find a photograph of  conservation biologist Melanie Gisler at work.

There is no other life!

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