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Postings are excerpts from the exhibition catalog edited by Carol Woodin

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Iris, Watercolor by John Pastoriza-Pinol, Australia

Iris winogradowii

Listing: Red Data Book, Republic of Georgia

The Plant’s Story

The Republic of Georgia is one of six nations considered part of the Caucasus biodiversity hotspot, which encompasses the isthmus between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea and nearby areas. The former Soviet Union was largely isolated from the rest of the world for many years, and this isolation was also botanical. Although people around the world can now visit its alpine meadows and high mountain oak forests, development pressures have accelerated, with natural resource extraction proceeding at a rapid pace. Political and economic upheaval have contributed to this acceleration, and poaching of wildlife, fuel wood, timber, and plants have increased significantly. Infrastructure development, such as roads, dams and pipelines have fragmented and degraded habitats. In the wild this iris is found in the area of Mt. Lomtismta, now a reserve, and it was once found in Abkhazia as well. Iris winogradowii has a number of unique features for an iris; it has a bulb rather than a rhizome, its leaves are triangular in cross-section, and it dies back completely by mid-summer. The Karamov Botanical Institute published a massive 30-volume Flora of the USSR during the mid twentieth century.

The Artist’s Story: John Pastoriza-Pinol

The purpose of my art is to capture the unique features of plants and to engender appreciation for contemporary botanical art and accurate realism. My academic background as a botanist influences the plants I choose, as well as my compositions and painting style, and I enjoy searching out rare and unusual plants.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Negev Iris, Watercolor by Irene Blecher, Israel

Iris mariae

Listing: Endangered, Red Data Book, Israel

The Plant’s Story

Irises of the section Oncocyclus grow throughout the Middle East and are distinguished by conspicuously large, mostly dark flowers on separate stems. Ten species of this section have been recorded in Israel and adjacent countries. All are found in a very small range. These flowers are a focal point for nature lovers during the flowering season and are a symbol for nature conservation in Israel and Jordan. All eight Israeli species of Oncocyclus irises are endangered plants. Negev iris is one of the most threatened species of this group. This beautiful plant has suffered in recent decades mainly from disturbance of its habitat by new construction, intensive agriculture and grazing. Research is currently being conducted by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in collaboration with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The project includes rescuing rhizomes of some endangered iris species from threatened habitats, propagation in captivity, and relocation for the creation of new populations in protected areas.

The Artist’s Story: Irene Blecher

In the last two years I prepared illustrations of a few rare Irises. Employed as a researcher by the Dead Sea Institute, I am participating in several conservation projects. My time is divided between botanical painting and doing ecological research.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Marsh Gentian, Watercolor by Gillian Barlow, UK

Gentiana pneumonanthe

Listing: Protected Status, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

The Plant’s Story

Marsh gentian is being studied all over northern Europe, mainly because of its fascinating relationship with the rare Alcon blue butterfly. Adult Alcon blues lay their eggs on the outside of marsh gentian flowers, and when the larvae hatch, they emerge inside, where they begin to feed on the flower. After molting 3 times, these caterpillars chew through to the outside of the flower, then lower themselves to the ground on a “silken thread”. The caterpillar awaits the arrival of a Myrmica ant, which adopts it and carries it back to the ant’s nest. There it is fed by the ant colony through the fall and winter, growing quite large. In spring it forms a chrysalis, then emerges and exits the colony as quickly as it can to avoid being killed by the ants. Encroaching tree cover is one of the reasons for the marsh gentian’s shrinking range. Their largest threat however, is the modernization of agricultural practices.

The Artist’s Story: Gillian Barlow

Since we both live nearby, I became close friends with a botanical artist and a volunteer warden of Tadnoll Heath, which is close to Winfrith Heath. This area, though small is very richly varied and contains a multitude of plants. In late summer the brilliant blue flowers look spectacular with the orange yellow of bog asphodel and the crimson haired sundews that thrive in the same damp conditions, all together making a glorious mosaic of colors. I spent many happy hours walking on the heath, hunting for plants.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Heath, Watercolor by Jennifer Johnston Davidson, South Africa

Erica verticillata

Listing: Extinct in the Wild, National Red List of South African Plants

The Plant’s Story

Erica verticillata can be seen as representing one of the worst “paradise lost” scenarios – the extinction of a species and severe loss of its natural habitat. But it is also a story of great hope, where a species extinct in the wild is saved by a few plants preserved in botanical garden collections. It is now being reintroduced into small isolated remnants of its natural habitat, where it is producing viable seed. Erica verticillata is being saved by collaboration between dedicated horticulturists, botanists, conservationists, volunteers, civic and corporate entities in Cape Town and supported by colleagues in South Africa and round the world. However, its habitat continues to be threatened and its future, and that of other Acid Sand Plain Fynbos plants is still tenuous.

The Artist’s Story: Jennifer Johnston Davidson

I was speaking to a horticulturist at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden when she suggested I paint Erica verticillata. The next thing I knew, thanks to Anthony Hitchcock Nursery, Plant Collections and Cape Millennium Seed Bank Manager, I had a permit in my hand and a couple of horticulturists were taking me around Kirstenbosch Gardens collecting the different forms of Erica verticillata. I had read Anthony’s article in Veld & Flora, the Botanical Society of South Africa Magazine, “Restoration Conservation at Kirstenbosch” earlier and found the whole story quite amazing. I was committed from the start even though I quivered at the prospect of recording all those little leaves! Because of the help I received, I had the luxury of working from live plant materials, depicting five of the different forms discovered and those used in the breeding program.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Golden Barrel Cactus, Oil on Paper by Ingrid Finnan, US

Echinocactus grusonii

Listing: Critically Endangered, IUCN Red List

The Plant’s Story

Mexico is “diversity central” for cacti, a family native only to the Americas. Over 650 species of the world’s 1500 cacti make their home in Mexico. Golden barrel cactus is one of the many cacti found in only a very small area, in this case one of about 15 square miles. Growing on volcanic slopes at about 3500’ in elevation, it is estimated only 250 golden barrels remain in the wild. Its range was reduced in the early 1990s by construction of a dam flooding the Mactezuma Valley. El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden, Guanajuato, Mexico engaged in a rushed rescue effort to save the golden barrels and other rarer plants from the valley, incorporating them into their conservation-focused collection. Although development and grazing are the greatest threats to endangered cacti, there still remains a thriving market among cactophiles for illegally collected plants, which affects the already reduced populations.

The Artist’s Story: Ingrid Finnan

Over the years I have made numerous visits to the Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, where the perfectly round form of the Golden Barrel Cactus has fascinated me. But how to make a round cactus suitably fit the rectangular format was the question. My solution was to flank the primary cactus with two others painted in more subtle manner, hoping to suggest that the species is vanishing. I begin by sketching a plant that has caught my imagination. On my sketch I make detailed notes of the dimensions and the colors of the plant and take numerous photos with a composition in mind. In my studio, I prepare a detailed drawing and transfer it to a sheet of watercolor paper. I quickly paint the whole image in thinned oils, laying in the lights and darks and capturing the colors as closely as possible. Then comes the time consuming process of refining the work, blending colors, adding textural effects, and fine details.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bowl Flower, Watercolor by Jee-Yeon Koo, South Korea

Cypripedium japonicum

Listing: CITES Appendix II

The Plant’s Story

Cypripedium japonicum is known in Korea as Kwangreung Yogang Flower, so named because the shape of the flower resembles a bowl. It has always been rare in cultivation outside of Asia. On the brink of extinction in Korea, only about 200 individuals remain in the wild. The Korean government is actively seeking to safeguard Cypripedium japonicum and several mountains and villages have been designated as protected habitats. Numbers of this orchid in China and Japan are greater, but they are all protected by CITES Appendix II. China is the center for Cypripedium diversity, being home to two-thirds of the world’s Cypripedium species, with a further centralization in Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, areas experiencing rapid habitat change.

The Artist’s Story: Jee-Yeon Koo

I’ve been a fine artist and teacher in Korea for many years, specializing in flowers in the eastern style of painting, using traditional materials and techniques. As principal art director for the national project for illustrating rare and endangered Korean plants sponsored by the Korea National Arboretum, I have painted many rare Korean plants. I was interested in Cypripedium japonicum because it is the most important endangered plant in Korea. My technique consists of many layers of dry brush watercolors.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Longolongo, Gouache by Rita Parkinson, Australia

Cycas seemannii

Listing: CITES Appendix II

The Plant’s Story

Cycads are found throughout tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world and can thrive in harsh conditions, from high elevations, windy and cold paramo in South America to beach dunes and island limestone terraces, as with this Cyas seemanni, in the South Pacific islands. Of the 300 or so species found around the world, about half are considered at risk. In North America, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida, maintains a large collection of cycads for research, exhibition, and conservation, linked with conservationists and institutions around the world.

The Artist’s Story: Rita Parkinson

Fiji has been a holiday destination for my family for more than 20 years. I saw the Cycas seemannii of my illustration in a coastal area near Sigatoka on Viti Levu Island. The flora is diverse and what interests me is that much of it has not been illustrated in detail before. I will first and foremost do detailed drawings, and make a photo essay that includes habitat, close ups, details and mid-views. Then, I will begin the process with many roughs using all these sources as reference.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Begonia, Watercolor by Lizzie Sanders, UK

Begonia samhaensis

Listing: Endangered, IUCN Red List

The Plant’s Story

The isolated archipelago of Socotra lies in the Indian Ocean about 200 miles southeast of mainland Yemen. There are four islands in the group, Socotra, by far the largest, Abd al Kuri, Samha, and Darsa, surrounded by coral reefs profuse in marine diversity. Its tropical flora is one of the richest and best preserved in the world, with over 850 flowering plant species, of which some 300 are found nowhere else. At low altitudes its strange, otherworldly landscape is dominated by stem succulents along with dense woodlands. At higher altitudes, micro-niches among its jagged peaks support species such as Begonia, thriving in crevices, sustained by moisture from monsoon mists. In 2008 the archipelago was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and about 75% of its lands are in national parks and sanctuaries under protection of the Yemeni Conservation and Development Authority. Begonia samhaensis is found only in the northwest part of Samha’s high plateau, on sheltered vertical limestone cliffs above 2,000’ in elevation. Known from only 3 locations, its total population is estimated at fewer than 1000 plants.

The Artist’s Story: Lizzie Sanders

I first became interested in plants from Socotra some 10 years ago. I was taking classes at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and as a result met Dr. Tony Miller and his assistant Mark Hughes, who at that time were involved in a conservation program for the sustainable development of Socotra. The Paintings I made at that time included Begonia socotrana and the newly described Begonia samhaensis. My painting, the first ever of this plant, is now in the RBGE collection. Fast forward to 2008 and Losing Paradise? I had first thought of painting an endangered Scottish plant, but these proved elusive and generally inaccessible. Talking to botanists at RBGE, where I am now teaching, the flora of Socotra was suggested. Begonia samhaensis is one of RBGE’s ‘star’ introductions and together with the other flora of Socotra is under considerable threat.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Atamasco Lily, Gouache & Colored Pencil by Julie Martinez, US

Zephyranthes atamasca

Listings: Endangered, Maryland; Threatened, Florida

The Plant’s Story

Atamasco lily was one of the first North American flowers encountered by the colonists of Jamestown. At the edges of its historic range, it is at risk, although in some states it is quite common. Atamasco lilies enjoy a habitat of moisture-prone regions bordering wetlands, the edges of flat forestlands, and moist meadows. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Bulbs in the amaryllis family, as this lily was originally described by Linnaeus in 1753, contain chemical compounds being studied for their promising anti-cancer properties.

The Artist’s Story: Julie Martinez

During the winter, my husband and I live in the midst of the Ocala National Forest in central Florida. One morning I noticed occasional clumps of delicate white flowers along the roadside. After identifying them in our guidebooks, I learned they were a threatened species in Florida. I wanted to capture them in a painting and immediately started working on not only painting the flower but all aspects of the plant including the bulb, bud, pollen, seedpod and seeds.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Painted Trillium, Mixed Media by Anne Marie Carney, US

Trillium undulatum

Listings: Endangered, Michigan, Ohio; Threatened, Kentucky

The Plant’s Story

Painted trillium is a rare and delicate spring woodland wildflower. Its range extends from eastern Canada southward through the Smoky Mountains. They like cool, moist, acidic woodlands. The most well-known trillium, Trillium grandiflorum, is a sure sign of spring, and can often be seen carpeting moist deciduous florest floors both on hillsides and in lowlands in large numbers. The painted trillium is more secretive, seen near the base of large deciduous trees or tucked into rock-strewn nooks.

The Artist’s Story: Anne Marie Carney

Growing up in Ontario, Canada there was an abundance of Trillium grandiflorum and Trillium erectum. However, I never saw the elusive Trillium undulatum. Finding an informative website called Asheville Natural, I called Fiona Dudley its creator. The website is a guide to native wildflowers and other aspects of the natural world in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Fiona helped me to find all the trilliums along a hiking trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Asheville, NC. In the studio, after an indepth rendering in graphite pencil on watercolor paper, I used fine pen and ink pens and colored pencil to complete the piece.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fuzzywuzzy Airplant, Colored Pencil by Karen Coleman, US

Tillandsia pruinosa

Listing: Endangered, Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act

The Plant’s Story

This member of the pineapple family lives attached to branches of trees in hardwood swamps and cypress forests. Tillandsia pruinosa’s tentacle-like leaves emerge from a swollen, bulbous base and are covered with dense, silvery hairs; thus its common name, fuzzywuzzy airplant. In the United States, its range is limited to Lee and Collier Counties in Big Cypress National Preserve and nearby areas. The “river of grass” of the southeastern Everglades gradually gives way to rising elevations, which support the cypress swamps, hammocks, mangroves, and prairie habitats of Big Cypress. Nourishing a variety of unique plant and animal life, the diminutive Tillandsia pruinosa’s existence depends on the continued protection of these special areas. In spite of the great size of the preserve, non-native species penetrate its deepest coves. Its most recent intruder is a Mexican weevil whose larvae tunnel through the base of bromeliads decimating bromeliad populations.

The Artist’s Story: Karen Coleman

In January 2006, my husband and I joined a group from the Audubon Naturalist Society on a nature trip to the Florida Everglades. I was intrigued by the name and description of the fuzzwuzzy airplant. I fell in love with the fuzzywuzzy. I made a quick sketch and took lots of photos in order to do a finished work when I returned home. I completed the piece in colored pencil in 2008.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lakeside Daisy, Watercolor by Dianne McElwain, US

Tetraneuris herbacea

Listings: Threatened, Federal Endangered Species Act; Endangered, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan; Threatened, Ontario, Canada

The Plant’s Story

Historically found in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, it is now estimated about 95% of the world’s remaining population of lakeside daisy makes its home in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada. It favors limestone areas with good drainage that dry out quickly, called “alvar” communities. The lakeside daisy has been affected mainly by quarrying, but also by other forms of development, human foot traffic, and foraging by animals. In Ohio, the property containing what was believed to be the last naturally occurring US population of the daisy was purchased in 1989. These 19 acres in the middle of active quarry lands form the Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve. Golden daisies carpet its open sunny landscape in May.

The Artist’s Story: Dianne McElwain

I found this particular group of lakeside daisies at the Ohio Governor’s Garden in Columbus, Ohio. I arrived at the Governor’s Garden in late April, 2008, just when the daisies were beginning to bud. When I returned in May, I found the flowers all dropped to the ground and the stems twisted, because they follow the movement of the sun. They were very artistic looking and that’s when I decided to paint the entire plant in its habitat. First I did very detailed drawings from life of the flowers and leaves. Then I did color studies of the flowers. The final painting is done in watercolor.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stenogyne, Colored Pencil by Wendy Hollender, US

Stenogyne kauaulaensis

Listing: Newly described, not yet listed, Using IUCN criteria it is critically endangered.

The Plant’s Story

Recently a new species of Hawaiian mint in the endemic genus, Stenogyne was found within the steep, rugged mountains of West Maui, Hawaii. This extremely rare species is known from only 15 naturally occurring individuals and easily falls into the IUCN Critically Endangered (CR) Red List category which designates it as facing the highest risk of extinction in the wild. - Courtesy of Ken Wood, Field Researcher and Conservation Biologist, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii.

The Artist’s Story: Wendy Hollender

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work on endangered and newly discovered plants at the same time. This drawing started in the field using colored pencils on hot pressed watercolor paper. The beauty of working with colored pencils is that the materials needed are simple and few. With colored pencils, there is virtually no set-up or clean-up, no time spent preparing a palette and mixing colors, no time waiting for colors to dry. With a small case of no more than twenty or so pencils, a small plastic ruler, an eraser, a battery-operated pencil sharpener, magnifying glass, and spiral pad of paper – all of which easily fit into a small backpack, I go anywhere in the world and create detailed colorful botanical drawings!

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Royal Catchfly, Watercolor by Heeyoung Kim, US

Silene regia

Listings: Possibly Extirpated, Tennessee; Endangered, Illinois, Kentucky

The Plant's Story
America’s Midwestern prairie has steadily declined during the last two hundred years, and now only fragments of the once expansive ecosystem remain. Some of North America’s most endangered plants and animals are prairie and grassland species. One of these is the royal catchfly, so named because it literally catches insects in the sticky base of the flower. Although appearing throughout the Midwest, its numbers are declining due to habitat alterations, picking and digging. Missouri is the only state with substantial populations remaining.

The Artist’s Story: Heeyoung Kim

I was introduced to this beautiful, rare species in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Dixon Prairie in August 2007. My eyes were drawn to the red royal catchfly among hundreds of wildflowers dancing in the prairie garden. I did detailed pencil sketches and took notes about subtle changes as time passed. Since I live very close to the Garden I often go there with my sketchbook and camera. Based on my sketches I could compose the whole life cycle of the plant from buds to fruits.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yellow Pitcher Plant, Watercolor by Joan Geyer, US

Sarracenia flava

Listings: CITES Appendix II; Extremely Rare, Division of Natural Heritage, Virginia

The Plant’s Story

Pitcher plants are carnivorous, luring insects into their hollow tubes (leaves) with nectar and fragrance, leading them to drown in the liquid in the tube. Insects, once trapped, are digested by enzymes and bacteria. Since the plants grow in areas with few nutrients in the soil, it is important to their survival to digest bugs! This yellow pitcher plant can be found throughout the southeast in bogs and other acidic wetlands. Threats are mainly due to over-collecting for the horticultural trade and to hydrological alterations for agriculture, urban development, and roads. The State of Virginia’s Department of Transportation seeks out appropriate habitat along roadways to serve as homes to rare plant communities. Once suitable habitat areas are found a group of endangered wetland plants, including yellow pitcher plants are introduced to recreate the bog plant community. This project established 500 yellow pitcher plants grown from seed by the Meadowview Biological Research Station in Woodford, Virginia.

The Artist’s Story: Joan Geyer

Milledgeville, once Georgia’s capitol, sits in the center of the state. One of its attractions is the Lockerly Arboretum. One April day the head gardener led me across a small bridge to an island in the middle of a large pond. Here, at the sunny shoreline, masses of bright yellow blooms rose above amazing foliage – my first encounter with the Golden Trumpet! I have returned to the tiny island many times to study this fascinating species.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.