Artwork is Copyrighted by the Artists
All Rights Reserved
Postings are excerpts from the exhibition catalog edited by Carol Woodin

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wollemi Pine, Watercolor by Beverly Allen, Australia

Wollemia nobilis

Listings: Critically Endangered, IUCN Red List; Endangered, Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

The Plant’s Story:

The distribution of fossil remains indicates Wollemia nobilis was once widespread in Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica, but it was thought to have been extinct for about 2 million years. Its discovery in 1994 by David Noble, a ranger with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in Australia, stunned the plant world. Found about 100 miles outside of Sydney in a deep narrow canyon in the rugged Wollemi National Park, its home is protected as Critical Habitat and is now off-limits to all but a few scientists and rangers. Wollemi National Park is part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area of Australia, a 2.5 million acre natural area known for its rare fauna and flora and included on the World Heritage list.

The Artist’s Story: Beverly Allen

The location of surviving trees in the wild is closely guarded, and access is extremely difficult and restricted to necessary scientific research. I contacted the Botanic Gardens Trust, which I knew had been involved in propagating the tree. Working with research scientists, I was given access to living plant materials at the Trust’s research facility at Mount Annan Botanic Garden. The graceful form of the leaves and branches and intricate pattern and detail have been a delight to paint.

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, July 26, 2010

Cyprus Tulip, Watercolor by Gillian Barlow, UK

Tulipa cypria

Listing: Endangered, Red Data List of Cyprus

The Plant’s Story:

Many Cyprian plants are threatened by habitat loss, in part due to the impact of building and mass tourism around the coastal areas, as well as heavy grazing and fertilizer use on poor land. The lowlands host habitats of thickets, open scrubland, coastal dune ecosystems, marshes and two salt lakes, important for winter migrating birds. During the rainy season, wildflowers follow one another, beginning with scillas and narcissus, then cyclamen, anemones, lilies, and of course, the beautiful red Cyprus tulip. It is found at three locations on Cyprus, in the northern Akamas peninsula, near Mammari, and in the area bounded by Myrtou and Kormakitis-Panagra.

The Artist’s Story: Gillian Barlow

Visiting Cyprus with a holiday group, mostly of bird watchers, I met Dr. Yiannis Christophides, who was our expert botanist leader. On that first visit, he prepared so well, showed us so much, and was so passionately concerned with his native island’s botany and wildlife that I longed to return for a longer and more flower-focused visit. Since then I have done so several times. We have driven all over the island to search for special rarities some of which I sketch, beginning to paint the series of endemic and endangered plants of which this was the first subject.

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, July 24, 2010

Ring Gentian, Pen and Ink by Bobbi Angell, US

Symbolanthus jasonii

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

The Plant’s Story:

Symbolanthus jasonii, a member of the Gentian family, was collected for the first time during a recent expedition to the poorly-studied Cordillera del Condor on the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border. The plant is 10-feet tall sparsely distinct from other species in the region. This area of South America is dotted with neotropical montane microhabitats that are surrounded by large disturbed areas, so individual plant populations can be many miles apart. Many plants here are found in a very small area, so the odds of any given species being lost completely to habitat conversion is high.

The Artist’s Story: Bobbi Angell

I have drawn over 20 species and varieties of Symbolanthus, but most have been reconstructed from single pressed herbarium specimens. In contrast, the new species provided me with refreshingly complete material from which to prepare an illustration. I was able to dissect a pickled flower (a flower preserved in a liquid solution) to show the distinctive corona (the ‘ring’ that gives the genus its common name of Ring Gentian).

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, July 22, 2010

Slipper Orchid, Watercolor by Angela Mirro, US

Phragmipedium kovachii

Listing: CITES Appendix I

The Plant’s Story:

The discovery of Phragmipedium kovachii set the botanical world alight and may be the most important orchid find in the past one hundred years. Its large size and brilliant color led many to wonder how it had remained so long secreted in the Peruvian jungle. Although reported to have been discovered in 2001 by a local farmer in northeastern Peru, it was brought to the public’s attention in mid-2002. In 2003, the Peruvian government, through its Department of Natural Resources authorized two established Peruvian plant nurseries to obtain five Phragmipdium kovachii from the wild for a captive breeding program.

The Artist’s Story: Angela Mirro

I first painted Phragmipediu kovachii in 2003. In May of that year, I traveled to Peru and joined a small group of Peruvians and Americans interested in seeing and studying the plant in its habitat. It was an experience I shall never forget! We embarked on a rough and treacherous trail. We were ill-prepared for what lay ahead. I decided to stay behind with a few other people. The others continued onward. A few days later, I was able to sketch and study one of the legally collected plants. Alfredo Manrique Sipan was kind enough to invite me to visit his nursery in Lima in late 2004, and there I started the painting exhibited here. I made many color studies and sketches from life, then completed the painting back in Brooklyn.

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, July 20, 2010

Slipper Orchid, Watercolor on Vellum by Carol Woodin, US

Paphiopedilum vietnamense

Listing: CITES Appendix I

The Plant’s Story:

For untold centuries in a remote area of northern Vietnam, this handsome slipper orchid graced a dramatic landscape of eroded crystalline cliffs and crevices. Undisturbed under a lush canopy of broad-leaved evergreen forest until its discovery in 1997, the attractive variegated plants were abundant in this setting, forming extensive colonies. Sadly the wild populations of this striking orchid were plundered within days of their discovery. Local people, dispatched by a commercial orchid company, collected mass quantities of this orchid and others for the horticultural trade. When CITES-listed plants, illegally imported into the country are seized by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors, they offer to repatriate them to the country of origin. When return of seized plants is not possible, they are sent to one of 62 participating institutions around the country in its Plant Rescue Center Program. The plants remain the property of the U.S. Government but the institutions are allowed to propogate them and the offspring become the property of that Center. The bittersweet result is that this slipper orchid has become plentiful and available everywhere people avidly grow orchids…but not in its natural habitat where only a sparse population can still be found. (Thomas Mirenda, Orchid Collection Specialist, Smithosonian Institution)

The Artist’s Story: Carol Woodin

Having specialized in orchids for almost 20 years, I’ve sought them out in habitats and greenhouses in North and South America. Studying orchids in the wild brings its special challenges, first and foremost is taking care not to damage the habitat and especially the plants. They are also difficult to find, and are often at a great distance from roads. Once found, enduring mosquitoes and black flies, muck, hot sun and rain are all part of the deal and over time I learned that the more drawing and painting done while out there, the better the results in the studio. Before Slipper Orchids of Vietnam was published in 2003, Dr. Phillip Cribb, one of its authors asked whether I might be able to paint Paphiopedilum vietnamense for the cover. That first painting was done from the scientific description and detailed digital photos. Painting plants from photos is very difficult. Over the ensuing years since the book’s publications, seed-grown plants have matured, so it was a great pleasure to finally paint this plant from life.

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, July 18, 2010

Mortoniodendron, Pen, Brush, and Ink by Alice Tangerini, US

Mortoniodendron uxpanapense

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

The Plant’s Story:

Mortoniodendron uxpanapense was named for the place it was collected in the rainforest of Uxpana, in the state of Veracruz, Mexico along a steep rocky limestone drainage that seasonally becomes flooded. The genus Mortoniodendron represents a group of tropical trees of which only nine species had been described.

The Artist’s Story: Alice Tangerini (link to NPR interview)

My illustration of Mortoniodendron uxpanaense began as do many of my drawings here in the Botany Department of the National Museum of Natural History, with a request for a drawing to accompany the publication of a new species. I received the plant as a series of four herbarium specimens. The first step in my drawing process was to make photocopies of the herbarium specimens. By tracing the photocopies the plant can be rendered at natural size. After the finished pencil sketches were completed and arranged on the plate, the final drawing was inked with brush and pen.

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, July 16, 2010

Lycaste, Watercolor by Angela Mirro, US

Lycaste macrophylla

Listing: CITES, Appendix II

The Plant’s Story:

Lycaste orchids grow on tree branches or rocky outcrops and are a genus of about 50 species found in mid-elevation forests from Mexico through Bolivia. This Lycaste macrophylla is found from Nicaragua to Bolivia. The major factors that threaten its numbers are agriculture, logging, fires and the collecting of plants from the wild for horticulture.

In Peru, where the artist found this plant, there is a push to increase tourism, leading to worries about its impact on local communities, and on cultural and natural treasures. Restrictions have been increased on visitors to the 125 square mile Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, a World Heritage Site that recently has seen 800,000 tourists a year. Hundreds of orchid species are found throughout the Sanctuary.

One of many private companies attempting to mediate the effects of visitorship and have a positive impact on natural, social and cultural environments is Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, part lodging, part sustainable ecotourism destination, and part conservation organization.

The Artist’s Store: Angela Mirro

The plant depicted in my painting was grown in the Orchid Trail at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, part of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. During my initial trip in 1997 I started sketching and painting studies of the orchids, to eventually return many times over the past twelve years. Lycast macrophylla interested me from the beginning and I finally completed the painting exhibited here in 2007.

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, July 14, 2010

Tupa Rosada, Watercolor by Ann Fleming, US

Lobelia bridgesii

Listing: Vulnerable, IUCN Red List

The Plant’s Story:

Chile’s temperate rainforest, where Lobelia bridgesii grows, has been identified as one of the world’s key biodiversity hotspots by Conservation International, known as the “Chilean Winter Rainfall – Valdivian Forests”. In 1991, the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland initiated the International Conifer Conservation Program to inventory, research, and establish protected sites for the world’s conifers, with one of its focal points being the Chilean rainforest.

Rain forest trees of all kinds are being removed from the Valdivian forest for construction lumber and industrial and home fuel, both for domestic use and for export to countries as far-flung as Japan and North America. Plantations of non-native pine and eucalyptus trees are changing groundwater and soil composition, and affecting surrounding areas.

Lobelia bridgesii, called tupa rosada in Chile, is one of the giant lobelias, and it can be found in a tiny range of only about 6 miles. The Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, and the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, are collaborating on rainforest research and conservation efforts and have established in-captivity propagation programs.

The Artist’s Story: Ann Fleming

In July, 2007, anticipating a trip to Scotland to visit my mother, I learned from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s website that they have an extensive collection of very threatened plants from Chile. I contacted their conservation department and discussed my interest in finding a plant to illustrate for this exhibition. I was able to arrange a day at the Garden. Lobelia was prolific, growing up to 5’ tall in a walled garden. I was able to spend the entire day doing preliminary sketches of the plant and taking notes. Along with photographs that I took, I had all the necessary information to complete the illustration in Denver.

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, July 12, 2010

Blue Latan Palm, Watercolor by Monika DeVries Gohlke, US

Latania loddegesii

Listing: Endangered, IUCN Redlist

The Plant’s Story

The Republic of Mauritius consists of two major islands, Mauritius and Rodrigues, as well as a number of smaller islets, surrounded by coral reefs. The Blue Latan Palm as well as other plants unique to these islands have been yielding their habitat to agriculture and development, and have also been affected by grazing goats and rabbits. Although it is very rare in its native environment, this palm tree is cultivated as an ornamental tree in gardens. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation works to conserve rare plants and animals and maintains an endangered plant propagation program.

The Artist’s Story: Monika DeVries Gohlke

This beautiful “latanier bleu” as it is called in Mauritius, is currently being cultivated as an ornamental in some of the gardens on the island. It was in one of these private gardens that I was privileged to observe the tree and paint the maturing fruit.

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, July 10, 2010

As Seen Through Color

For an indepth discussion with Artists Jean Emmons and Heeyoung Kim about their use of color in painting their entries in the exhibit, read Losing Paradise? As Seen Through Color, an article by Carolyn Payzant.

Green Ixia, Watercolor on Vellum by Jean Emmons, US

Ixia viridiflora

Listing: Endangered, National Red List of South African Plants

The Plant’s Story

The Cape Floral Kingdom is a global biodiversity hotspot. The wine industry in South Africa is the world’s ninth largest, and nearly all of it takes place within this global hotspot. Over 100 vineyards have joined the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, a consortium with the Botanical Society of South Africa, Conservation International, and the Green Trust, setting aside lands for conservation purposes, removing non-native vegetation, and implementing sustainable practices in grape cultivation. South Africa has created teams of mostly volunteers who have gone through training to learn how to identify at-risk plants and habitats, called CREW teams (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers). CREW teams have found several notable species on the property of Theuniskraal Vineyard including this beautiful Ixia viridflora. A portion of the property Tulbagh Alluvium Fynbos, is considered a critically endangered habitat.

The Artist’s Story: Jean Emmons

Brooklyn Botanic Garden grew plants of Ixia viridiflora from seed for their Warm Temperate Pavilion, one of the most diverse collections of Cape flora in the United States. Cut flowers and a small plant were mailed to me in order to create a previous painting for the Brooklyn Garden Florilegium Project. I was so taken with the turquoise color of the Ixia, I wanted to try another painting of it. My technique involves starting with multiple layers of pale washes in many different colors. Slowly, I work dryer and dryer and finish with very tight drybrush using the local color of the plant.

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.  This artwork is on the cover of the Losing Paradise? exhibit catalog.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Moss, Watercolor by Maria Alice De Rezende, Brazil

Itatiella ulei

Listing: Critically Endangered, List of Endangered Flora of the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

The Plant’s Story

Mosses are notoriously difficult to identify due to their small size and remarkable diversity. Tropical Atlantic rainforests of Brazil are havens that nurture a richness of mosses. Atlantic rainforests cover just a small portion of the area of Amazonian rainforest, but their biodiversity is just as great. In addition to moss diversity, the entire flora of the region is rich, with over half of its tree species found nowhere else. New York Botanical Garden researchers counted over 450 species of trees in less than 3 acres!

The Artist’s Story: Maria Alice De Rezende

The idea of making a watercolor painting of this endangered moss arose when I was working with the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden illustrating “Endemic and Threatened Species from Itatiaia National Park”. These mosses are so small it is difficult for people to see what they look like. We decided a painting of an enlarged plant would allow people to be able to see how beautiful they can be, and maybe provide an increased understanding of the importance of preserving them in nature.

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.