Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ohio Botanical Symposium: March 27

Tis the season for event promotion. And here's another one well worth a plug, and well worth attending. The Ohio Botanical Symposium, which like some primroses is now a biennial event, takes the stage on Friday, March 27 at the beautiful Villa Milano Conference Center in Columbus. CLICK HERE for details, and registration. If memory serves, the botanical symposium was started over 20 years ago by the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. We had about 40 people at the inaugural event. Attendance grew by leaps and bounds, requiring regular shifts to larger venues. The Villa Milano can handle about 400 people, and the remaining spaces for this year's conference are rapidly dwindling. Register soon. It usually fills up.

The keynote is Dr. Robbin Moran of the New York Botanical Garden. He authored the book A Natural History of Ferns, and will discuss the interesting hidden lives of Ohio's most interesting ferns. Another easterner, Dr. Cynthia Morton of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, will discuss urban forests and their importance. Bob Glotzhober, emeritus natural history curator of the Ohio Historical Society, will talk about the amazing botanical diversity of one of Ohio's most iconic natural areas, Cedar Bog. The "Garden Sage" herself, Debra Knapke, will wax eloquent about the state's edible plants, including ones that you can grow. Phlox is always a crowd-pleaser, and among their ranks are some of our greatest botanical eye candy. Peter Zale will give the lowdown on this colorful group. The synopsis of "Ohio's Best Botanical Finds" is always a crowd-pleaser at the botanical symposium. Andrew Gibson will detail the very best of new native plant discoveries of the last two years, which include rediscoveries of plants thought gone from the state, and plants never before found within Ohio's borders.

Your narrator is a last minute pinch-hitter, filling in for a speaker whose extenuating circumstances preclude involvement with this year's symposium. Fortunately, the subject is one that I have a passing knowledge of: goldenrods. This group is among the most beautiful and important of Midwestern plants, and I'll attempt to sell their virtues.

Ohio Goldenrod, Oligoneuron (Solidago) ohioense, one of two species of goldenrods originally discovered in the Buckeye State. Woven into the fibers of our goldenrods is some fascinating human history, and I hope to touch on some of that.

The striking lemony flowers of Wrinkled-leaf Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa, form a showy pyramidal inflorescence. Collectively, goldenrods can form a dominant part of the vegetative biomass in certain habitats, and their abundant nectar and pollen serve an abundance of insect life.

Wherever nectar-seeking bugs gather, you can be sure that predators will be waiting. In the case of goldenrods, several species of insects (and spiders), such as this Goldenrod Ambush Bug, have coevolved with goldenrod and match their substrate to a remarkable degree.

Other insects use goldenrod tissue for food, and nurseries. Perhaps you've seen these swollen protrusions on the stems of Tall Goldenrod, Solidago altissima. They're the work of the tiny Goldenrod Gall Fly. The fly's grub is seemingly safely ensconced within the hard growth of plant tissue. But alas - no one is safe! A Downy Woodpecker has drilled into the gall and excavated the tasty grub. Just one of many ecological chains formed by goldenrods.

Again, complete conference info is RIGHT HERE.


Anonymous said...

I am hoping the goldenrod guide will still be available. The aster guide is great. Brian

Ron Gamble said...

I'm registered, and like Brian, I'm hoping Sigrid Neilsen has a goldenrod guide and booklet available ... Her asters help was great.