I started a blog in 2013 recording all of my horticultural adventures throughout south Florida. I have decided to transfer these stories to The Honey Bee & the Hound for interest and back story!
“The Course: Tropical Botany is an intensive course of study in the biology and systematics of tropical plants. Subject matter will be largely based on the extensive holdings of tropical vascular plants at Fairchild Tropical Garden, The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Montgomery Botanical Center. These gardens have the largest living collections of tropical plants in the United States. Additionally, field trips will be made to the Florida Everglades, the Florida Keys, and adjacent natural areas. The natural vegetation of South Florida, which includes littoral and dry land habitats, mixed tropical hardwood hammocks, pinelands, and mangrove communities, will introduce students to the diversity of tropical vegetation. The object of the course is to provide advanced students and/or professionals with a detailed coverage of the systematics, phylogeny, diversity of structure, and economic botany of tropical vascular plants.”
“”The Kampong”, a Malay or Japanese word for a cluster of houses, a settlement or a village, was applied by Dr. David Fairchild to his new home in Florida in 1916. The property is almost ten acres in extent, bordered on the west by Douglas Road and on the east by Biscayne Bay. It is located approximately one mile from the center of Coconut Grove. On this property, Dr. Fairchild (while Chief of the Seed and Plant Introduction Section of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) introduced and grew many tropical plants which he collected during his plant explorations….. Many famous people, as well as noted horticulturists, have visited The Kampong over the years. They include Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell (Dr. Fairchild’s father-in-law), Elmer D. Merrill, Barbour Lothrop, Wilson Popenoe, and, in the Sweeny’s time, Richard Leakey, Thomas Hoving of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Dr. Donald Johanson, discoverer of the famous “Lucy” skeleton. When visiting his daughter and son-in-law, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell stayed in the old guava jelly factory, which was turned into a guest house but later destroyed in a hurricane. While at the Kampong, Bell invented a simple method of extracting distilled water from sea water using solar energy. This device remains intact, in its original location….. Local garden clubs, students, and other horticulturally-oriented groups in the South Florida area visit the Kampong frequently. The Kampong remains a living monument to the often little-appreciated achievements of its primary architects – Dr. David Fairchild and Dr. Catherine Sweeny…. Mrs. Sweeney has gifted this property to the Pacific Tropical Garden in Kauai, Hawaii, but has retained a life estate of the Kampong.” Larry Schokman July 1985
For my day at the Kampong, Dr. Walt Judd focused the lecture on Eudicots.The families of eudicots are Superrosidae: Saxifragales and Rosidae and Superasteridae: Asteridae, Santalales, Caryoph, and the big focus on Caryophyllales.
We learned that there is a protein crystalloid with a protein plastid in Caryophyllales – the plastids have starch. We learned to look for red and yellow pigments which are Nitrogen called Betalains. We also learned to look for one whirl of tepals (staminedaea turn into petals). And lastly, we look for succulents and salt tolerant plants.
My favorite plants to study during the day were the Lotus, the Bougainvillea, succulents, Cactaceae, and Nepenthaceae (carnivorous pitcher plant from the ancient tropics).
When dissecting the Bougainvillea, we look for 1. fused tepals 2. colorful bracks 3. last of the raphide class.
Succulents: 1. bladder cells – water holding 2. 4-5 sepals 3. seemingly numerous petals BUT actually many stamens and petals are leaves 4. leaves are placed oppositely.
Cactaceae: 1. long shoot with photosynthetic leaves 2. short shoots with spines 3. numerous tepals and stamens (more than 5) 4. flower leaves on outside of ovary, making it both an ovary and a stamen. There is much variation within this genus.
Nepenthaceae: 1. This is the most complicated leaf of any angiosperm 2. secretes digestive enzymes 3. ring of stamens fused together 4. staminate flowers
We spent the morning at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens collecting plant material to bring back to the Kampong to dissect and study under the microscopes.
And on to an afternoon of dissecting and studying plant flowers!