Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring Time in the City : New York 2011

Well folks, spring is here in NYC. New life is appearing everywhere and it's about time I get back to blogging.

Last year I got really excited by the tulips at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. I documented their growth week by week, it was fascinating to see them grow and wonder what the flower would ultimately look like. Follow the link to see for your self : Tulip Watch Montreal 2010

Tulips in NYC, although present, weren't as prevalent as Daffodils (a.k.a Narcissus). They were and still are everywhere. I have never spent as much time looking and photographing daffodils, as I have these past couple weeks.

The daffodil's trumpet gives this spring flower a very distinctive look. However, it wasn't until my mother heard someone on the BBC radio claim to have discovered a new structure that I really looked at a daffodil. 

Let's set the stage for this discovery.  Flowering plants, angiosperms, distinguished themselves from other plants 140 million years ago but it took us until the 19th century to actually define what makes a flower and how we classify them. A flower is composed of 4 key parts: petals, sepals, stamens & carpels. We use the number, colour, shape, and position of these structures to group and distinguish between species.

For the past 150 years, scientists have been disagreeing on the nature of the daffodil's trumpet or corolla. Is it a petal? Or is it part of the stamens?

Dr. Robert Scotland and other researchers at Oxford University looked for the answer within the bulb. They discovered the trumpet forms separately from the rest of the flower,  it's a completely new structure.  Scientists call it an example of evolution. I wonder just how much this is going to impact plant taxonomy. It was hard enough to learn the first time around.

In addition to being the new poster child for evolution, the daffodil has medical value.  It contains galantomine which can slow the development of the Alzheimer disease.

I thought NYC was daffodil crazy but it's nothing compared to Scotland, where they dominate the landscape. Here are some pictures I took from my trip. Enjoy!

They just grow wild everywhere!

Daffodils, you'll never look at them the same way.

Take care!

BBC Wales. March 2011. Oxford Scientists in Daffodil Discovery. [accessed online 04-30-2011]
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