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Amesianum

   One of the sources for plant material for the Botanic Garden is the Site Index Seminum, or seed lists, that botanic gardens exchange with each other. All areas of the Botanic Garden are well served from this exchange, and we often receive new and exciting seeds from around the world. There is, however, a temperate-zone bias to the seed lists as botanic gardens are predominantly located in cold weather climates throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. Building a world-class collection of tropical plants can be problematic, as one could wait years to see seed of targeted families or species or never see them at all.

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Conservatory News
spacerBy Rob Nicholson
   On rare occasions our staff will do their own collecting of seed or cuttings in the tropics, and we have brought back a number of plants that are now unique to the Lyman Conservatory. Such an example is Methysticodendron amesianum, a rare member of the tomato family endemic to the northern Andes. This species is a close relative of the angel-trumpet trees (Brugmansia), plants renowned for their spectacular, pastel-colored 12" trumpet-flowers. Methysticodendron is thought by some botanists to be a highly mutated form of a Brugmansia with thin, willowlike leaves and a blossom that is divided into long, white, spoonlike petals. The plant was first collected and described by the legendary tropical botanist Dr. Richard Evans Schultes, who found it in the Sibundoy Valley of southern Colombia. Schultes did bring back cuttings of the plant, but it was subsequently lost in cultivation. The reintroduction of this rare Andean germplasm allows for further explorations into the complex genetics of the Brugmansia alliance. This could revive a line of research for which Smith College was renowned fifty years ago when Dr. Albert Blakeslee and his students did ground-breaking heredity studies using Datura and Brugmansia. That the Blakeslee Range greenhouses are again filling with germplasm of these large-flowered beauties seems to be a homecoming of the best botanical kind.  decoration

Trees on Campusspacer
spacerby William Belden
Tree   The outdoor garden staff of the Botanic Garden are continuing to remove trees that have been determined to be hazardous because of deferred maintenance and two heavy snowstorms in December 1996 and April 1997. We spent many hours viewing and evaluating every tree on the campus to decide which ones were the most precarious and ultimately slated for removal. In-house staff are handling small tree removals, whereas C.L. Frank & Co., a Northampton arborist firm, will remove several large trees.
   We are also developing a program
for handling the hemlock woolly adelgid, a small aphidlike insect that feeds on several species of hemlock. North American species are especially susceptible to the pest, which was accidentally introduced from Asia. This again called for a tour of campus in search of every hemlock tree in the arboretum. Results from this observation tour guided decisions on how to handle the difficult-to-control pest. Because some of the hemlocks are so heavily infested, a decision was made to remove several, some this winter and the rest this summer. We will also monitor several others that do not show any sign of having the pest. Finally, we will begin a program to save many of the trees, using dormant/summer oil on several and doing stem injection on a selected few that have already shown signs of being infected.
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