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RE: Your orchid is related to WHAT? Changing thatfamily tree.

  • To: gardenchat@hort.net
  • Subject: RE: [CHAT] Your orchid is related to WHAT? Changing thatfamily tree.
  • From: "Bonnie Holmes" holmesbm@usit.net
  • Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 09:30:44 -0700

Lynda, on Saturday, I attended the UT Trial Gardens Blooms Day in
Knoxville.  Inspiring, as usual.  In addition to attending some of the
mini-seminars, couldn't get out of there without purchasing a very
interesting planter and some reading material.  If you haven't purchased
"Gardening with Native Plants of Tennessee" by Margie Hunter...it is well
worth the price...full of interesting material and good colored pictures. 
Also, began a subscription to "Tennessee Gardener".  As indicated by the
title, the magazine covers gardening for the state...including a section on
the four gardening regions of TN.   The Memphis area has a separate report.

Bonnie Zone 6+ ETN

> [Original Message]
> From: Lynda Young <lyoung@grindertaber.com>
> To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
> Date: 07/01/2003 4:59:25 AM
> Subject: RE: [CHAT] Your orchid is related to WHAT?  Changing thatfamily
> Fascinating, Bonnie - thanks for sharing that.  We just watched a
> special on our local PBS station the other evening on orchids - they are
> amazing plants.  And, oh so gorgeous.
> Lynda
> Zone 7 - West Tn
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-gardenchat@hort.net [mailto:owner-gardenchat@hort.net] On
> Behalf Of Bonnie Holmes
> Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 7:51 PM
> To: Agardenchat
> Subject: [CHAT] Your orchid is related to WHAT? Changing that family
> tree.
> Since the recent discussions have included orchids...thought this might
> be of interest.  B
> An orchid by any other name: Asparagus?
> The New York Times
> NEW YORK -- Orchids can be elegant, gaudy, lurid and even downright
> bizarre. While the unusual flowers of these species have excited plant
> lovers for centuries, they have also made it difficult for evolutionary
> biologists to place them in the plant family tree and identify their
> closest relatives.
> Now, scientists say, studies of the DNA of orchids are revealing a host
> of surprises, chief among them, that orchids are actually part of the
> asparagus group, closer kin to these vegetables than to the other,
> flashier, flowering plants they had been placed with before.
> "They're so weird, so different from everything else," said Dr. Ken
> Cameron, orchidologist at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
> At the same time, scientists are finding that orchids, long thought to
> be the recent product of plant evolution, are actually quite ancient,
> having emerged more than 90 million years ago.
> It is often easy for experts to pick out an organism's closest
> relatives, but sometimes -- as with orchids -- appearances can point in
> many directions and no direction at all.
> One problem is that orchid flowers have undergone striking evolutionary
> elaborations, evolving myriad forms and devices, sometimes to entice
> very particular animal pollinators. In the process, elements of flower
> structure that may have pointed to the group's evolutionary history have
> been distorted or lost.
> One particular oddity of orchid flowers is their highly unusual
> reproductive structure, the normally separate array of reproductive
> parts having evolved to be fused together inside a typical orchid bloom.
> "You look inside an orchid, and say, 'Where are all the parts?'" said
> Cameron. "It doesn't look like anything else."
> By looking at DNA, researchers were able to free themselves from limits
> of vision. Comparing instead a wide variety of genes both among the
> orchids and between orchids and the other flowering plants, Cameron and
> colleagues found that the orchids fell squarely within the so-called
> Asparagales, the group that includes asparagus.
> "People found it hard to believe," Cameron said. But the Asparagales is
> large and diverse, containing amaryllis, onions, irises, daffodils as
> well as agaves and yuccas.
> Scientists say the evolutionary history of orchids has also been
> obscured by the oddities of their pollen and seeds.
> The pollen of most plants is nearly indestructible and many plant seeds
> are extremely tough, providing perfect material to be preserved in the
> fossil record. By contrast, the pollen and seeds of orchids are
> typically extremely delicate.
> "Unlike any other group of plants," said Dr. Mark Whitten, a botanist at
> the Florida Museum of Natural History, "there just isn't any reliable
> fossil record. With other groups you can find a fossil and conclude that
> the group must be at least that old or older. But with orchids it's been
> pretty much sheer speculation."
> Now, when DNA data are used to build an evolutionary tree of the plants,
> they show that orchids branch off fairly early, the first among the
> Asparagales plants, meaning they are the oldest in that group. Orchids
> also branch off before the palms. Because there are palm fossils that
> are 90 million years old, scientists know, orchids must be at least that
> old.
>  Bonnie Zone 6+ ETNholmesbm@usit.net  
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