Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Harry Potter and the Ecuadorian flowers

24.06.2003


A new species of the gentian family gets a Potteresque name



Harry Potter’s influence pervades even the science of plant taxonomy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Lena Struwe, assistant professor of ecology, evolution and natural resources at Rutgers’ Cook College – and a fan of the fictional young wizard – has shared in the discovery of a rare, new jungle plant that now bears a Potteresque name.

The new species, Macrocarpaea apparata, is described by Struwe and Jason Grant of the Université de Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the June 27 issue of Harvard Papers in Botany [8(1): 61-81, 2003]. The species name, apparata, is drawn from the term "to apparate" – as in apparition – a verb used throughout the book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The author, J.K. Rowling, uses it to refer to a wizard’s ability to disappear and reappear elsewhere instantaneously.


In an effort to conserve the world’s deteriorating biodiversity, plant taxonomists investigate and describe what is known to exist and go out in the field to look for new species. Struwe and Grant have been exploring the shrinking rain forests of South America, most recently the tropical, mountainous Andes region in southern Ecuador.

"Much of the original forest is now gone because trees have gone to lumber and vegetation has been burned to clear pastureland," said Struwe. "In Ecuador alone, a recent estimate is that 83 percent of all plant species are threatened with extinction, a much higher percentage than we previously thought."

The newly discovered plant belongs to the gentian family, whose members are known for their deep blue flowers. They are found on all continents except Antarctica in a wide variety of habitats and have been valued as herbal remedies since the dawn of recorded history. One particular genus, Macrocarpaea, is found predominantly in the mountainous rain forests of America, and it was these that in 2001 the two scientists sought in Ecuador.

"We drove south through misty mountains and lush vegetation, stopping at many places to examine the flora," said Struwe. "Suddenly we saw strange plants growing by the roadside. They had none of the flowers characteristic of gentians, but they did look like a Macrocarpaea – a kind never before seen."

Struwe explained that in order to confirm that it was a gentian, they needed to find a plant with flowers. As darkness approached, the rain-soaked botanists pursued their quarry and, on the verge of giving up, they found it. "At the very last moment, a tall flowering plant suddenly, almost magically appeared in front on us," she said. "It was a small tree, 12-15 feet tall, full with yellowish-white, bell-shaped flowers adapted to nocturnal pollination by bats and moths," added Grant.

The flowers emerged only as darkness fell, almost as an apparition. Thus, Struwe and Grant settled quickly on the species name, apparata.

Struwe had previously identified a new gentian genus in Brazil – Aripuana – and a dozen new gentian species, while Grant has more than 20 new species of Macrocarpaea to his credit. The research described in the June 27 paper was funded by the New York Botanical Garden, Rutgers University and the Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Joseph Blumberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>