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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cyperus-like Sedge, Watercolor by Betsy Rogers-Knox US

Carex pseudocyperus
Listing: Endangered, Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania

The Plant’s Story

Carex species can be found almost everywhere in the world, with nearly 500 species in North America. Carex pseudocyperus inhabits a large portion of northeastern North America, preferring moist to wet habitats. It is endangered all along the southern end of its range. Carex are very important, serving to hold water, stabilize soils and prevent erosion. Although many Carex thrive in naturally occurring wetlands they are reluctant to independently recolonize restored wetlands. This makes the restored wetlands more vulnerable to take-over by alien vegetation. Thriving wetlands are hubs of activity, alive with insects and amphibians. The most recent National Wetlands Inventory (1997/2004) which utilized aerial and satellite imagery, revealed that nearly 60% of losses in all categories of wetland were due to urban and rural development. A collected specimen has been pressed, mounted and incorporated into the University of Connecticut Biological Research Collection in Storrs.

The Artist’s Story: Betsy Rogers-Knox

In my endeavor to locate and illustrate a threatened or endangered plant, it took numerous emails and phone calls for me to find an enthusiastic supporter, the Research Director at the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut. From a nearby boardwalk over the wetland I spent many hours during the summer of 2007 observing and illustrating this infrequently found plant and its habitat. Participating in my own small way to a project devoted to raising awareness about endangered plant species has been especially meaningful to me.

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, April 28, 2010

Magenta Lilly Pilly, Watercolor by Deirdre Bean, Australia

Syzygium paniculatum
Listing:Vulnerable, Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

The Plant's Story

Australia is home to about 60 species of Syzygium.  They are all valuable trees and shrubs in Australia's tropical and subtropical rainforests, partly because they are a major food source for nectar-feeding and fruit-eating animals.

According to the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service, in the wild, magenta lilly pilly "occupies a narrow, linear coastal distribution in specific, restricted habitat types that have been extensively cleared and/or modified." These areas of coastal thickets and rainforest of eastern Australia have been listed as a critically endangered ecological community.

Three Syzygium species are listed as Vulnerable in this endangered habitat. They all serve as food for the protected grey-headed flying fox (a fruit bat). This bat is critical for dispersing seed from its food sources, spreading progeny of the trees whose fruit it eats.

The Artist's Story: Deirdre Bean

Syzygium paniculatum is native to my local area, and I have a mature tree growing in full view of my front door. Our neighbors say it has been fully grown since they moved in approximately 50 years ago. I painted a series of eight Syzygiums for an exhibition before the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK.

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.

Dwarf Bearclaw Poppy, Watercolor by Lara Call Gastinger, US

Arctomecon humilis
Listing: Endangered, Federal Endangered Species Act

The Plant’s Story

Utah’s dwarf bearclaw poppy is one of the world’s rarest. It is found only in about a ten mile radius near St. George, a rapidly growing city. Since its listing in 1979, it has further declined, facing pressures from housing expansion, airport construction, and non-compatible usage of habitat by off-road vehicles. Some poppy colonies occur on Bureau of Land Management property, the largest manager of Federal lands in the US. Other poppy habitat is owned by the State of Utah or The Nature Conservancy. Enthusiasts and scientists from conservation organizations, universities, and the Utah Native Plant Society have monitored and studied dwarf bearclaw poppy and other wildflower populations for many years. Red Butte Garden, University of Utah has been banking seeds for several years, but so far the plant has proven difficult to grow in captivity.

The Artist’s Story: Lara Call Gastinger

In the summer of 1999, I lived in Logan, Utah and helped develop a webpage for the Floristics Lab at Utah State University. There I learned about the endemic plants of Utah and became interested in documenting rare botanical species. I contacted my mentor from Utah State, a botanist who works on the Flora of North America Project. I wanted her input about rare and endangered plant species to paint for this exhibit. She immediately mentioned the bearclaw poppy.

Other links: Utah Rare Plant Guide, Center for Plant Conservation, Zipcode Zoo

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, April 13, 2010

Losing Paradise?

Losing Paradise? Endangered Plants Here and Around the World is a project of The American Society of Botanical Artists. At the convergence of art, science, conservation, and education, the exhibit includes 44 works of botanical art portraying endangered plants in a variety of media.

Having concluded its exhibitions at the Chicago Botanic Garden April 4th and at the Missouri Botanical Garden last fall, the exhibit will open at the New York Botanical Garden in May before travelling on to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution later this year.

The catalog which accompanies the exhibition was edited by Carol Woodin, Exhibitions Coordinator for the ASBA.  The catalog includes the story of the plight of each specimen and how the artists came to depict them along with essays by some of the world's foremost scientists and conservation leaders; Peter H. Raven, President of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Professor Sir Peter Crane FRS of the University of Chicago, Dr. Kathryn Kennedy, President and Executive Director of the Center for Plant Conservation, Gary Krupnick, Ph.D., Head of the Plant Conservaton Unit, Department of Botany, at the Smithsonian Institution, and James S. Miller, Dean and Vice President for Science at the New York Botanical Garden. The catalog is available for sale at the exhibition venues or online from the American Society of Botanical Artists.