BEN # 131

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Mon Mar 25 03:31:05 EST 1996

BBBBB    EEEEEE   NN   N             ISSN 1188-603X
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BBBBB    EEEEE    NN N N             BOTANICAL
BB   B   EE       NN  NN             ELECTRONIC
BBBBB    EEEEEE   NN   N             NEWS

No. 131                              March 24, 1996

aceska at        Victoria, B.C.
 Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

From: Adolf Ceska <aceska at>

The  Annual Meeting of the Northwest Scientific Association took
place in Tacoma (Pacific Lutheran University) on March  20,  21,
and  22.  I  attended  sessions  on  "Rare Plants" and on "Puget
Through: Biodiversity of an Endangered  Ecoregion."  The  common
theme of both sessions was protection of rare taxa and vanishing

I  was  delighted  to  see several projects that dealt with long
term monitoring of populations of rare plants. Several  speakers
stressed  the  need  for  making good collections of plants (see
notes below). Most speakers were concerned about  the  state  of
the  rare  plants  protection and about the political process of
the  so-called  "listing"  of  rare  plants.  Kathryn  Beck  and
Florence  Caplow  almost  lost  their battle with a faulty slide
projector, but astonished everybody by reporting new species  of
Lesquerella  and  Eriogonum and a new variety of Astragalus con-
juctus discovered in  the  Hanford  Nuclear  Reservation.  Their
report  also showed how difficult it is to get the legal protec-
tion for plants in peril (see a note on  the  rare  plant  group

I  was surprised how many people knew about BEN and I was rather
embarrassed when they recognized me as  the  person  responsible
for  this  mischief.  By  the  way,  when  I  talked to Margaret
Willitts, a new  Washingtonian  originally  from  California,  I
forgot to ask her for her new e-mail address.

In  short,  the  Northwest  Scientific Association meeting was a
nice opportunity to meet old and  new  friends.  It  was  really
encouraging to see how many good botanical research projects are
being conducted in the Pacific Northwest.

From: Wilf Schofield <wilfs at>

It  is  impossible  to  over-stress the importance of depositing
voucher specimens in a well-curated  herbarium.  Like  all  her-
barium  specimens,  these  should possess a label that gives the
pertinent information concerning the  source  of  the  specimen,
whether  collected from nature or cultivated. If cultivated, the
source of the culture should be given.

The essential significance of a  voucher  specimen  is  that  it
serves  as  a clear indication of the identity of the plant upon
which research was based. In the case of a misidentification (or
upon a change in the concept of a  taxon)  the  voucher  can  be
utilized  to  determine  the  true  identity  of the taxon. Even
relatively cautious scientists can make  errors  in  identifica-
tion.  Ecologists,  in particular, need to obtain well-collected
and documented specimens that vouch for the identity of a  taxon
upon  which research is based. If immature or otherwise puzzling
specimens are the only available plants in the study plots, more
complete specimens should be taken from areas outside the  plot.
Indeed,general  collections  should be made from the area of the
study that would serve as a reference for identity of  imperfect
specimens.  These  should  be  deposited  in an appropriate her-
barium. Vouchers  should  be  deposited  by  plant  geneticists,
cytologists,  phytochemists  and  physiologists.  Such  vouchers
serve not only the identity of the research taxa, but  can  lead
one  to  the locality from which the taxa were obtained, and the
research checked or enhanced. There have been regrettable publi-
cations that appear to have misidentified  the  research  taxon,
and  the  lack  of  a  voucher  makes it impossible to verify of
revise the identity. Such published research is, at best,  ques-

From: Weber William A <weberw at spot.Colorado.EDU>

One important thing about vouchers occurs to me, and that is the
establishment  of  firm  records of occurrence. With interest in
state and local floras, some people at least  are  beginning  to
realize  the  importance  of  herbarium  vouchers  for state and
county records. I have always been obsessed  with  this  problem
because  at  COLO there were very few or no vouchers for a great
many species that had been collected by expeditions  and  salted
away at Harvard and Philadelphia. A lot of my substance has been
used  up  in  rediscovering  these  plants  and in borrowing the
specimens, which are really vouchers,  from  the  early  expedi-
tions.  Check  lists,  I  feel, are fairly useless when they are
merely lists of names. I want to learn the basis for the record.
Another problem with vouchers is  the  proprietariness  of  her-
baria.  It  would  not  hurt  herbarium  ZZZZ  to  send the only
Colorado specimen to COLO, but it belongs to  ZZZZ  and  no  one
would ever let it go. I am perfectly willing to let a voucher go
to the herbarium for which it is most needed. Why shouldn't this
be a part of the unwritten code of ethics?

A persistent voucher problem is that my dear friend Askell Love,
in  his  Chromosome  Number  reports,  said that vouchers of his
counts would be either at Montreal, Winnipeg, or Boulder. Damned
few of them are at Boulder, and it  appears  that  the  Winnipeg
specimens  must  have been thrown out by some assistant eager to
clear up messes. Askell's Colorado vouchers are very  important,
because, unfortunately he accepted his students' identifications
of the specimens for which counts were made; some Astragali turn
out  to be Trifolium and so on! People constantly ask us whether
we have this or that voucher, and mostly we do not.


The motive:  To  bring  together  botanists  working  throughout
Washington.  Many  are  quite  isolated from other botanists and
from the academic world of plant taxonomy. Perhaps  there  is  a
way  to  educate  ourselves and share information to improve the
quality of our own fieldwork and of rare plant botany  generally
in Washington.

The   spirit:   An   informal   group  to  provide  support  and
information-sharing among rare  plant  and  field  botanists  in
Washington.  The  group  would  be  open  to  anyone  engaged in
fieldwork or rare plant conservation  work,  regardless  of  af-
filiation or employer.

For  more information contact: Florence Caplow (360-592-5062) or
Katy Beck (360-671-6913).


Larson,  B.M.H.  &  P.M.  Catling.  1996.  The   separation   of
   Eleocharis  obtusa and Eleocharis ovata (Cyperaceae) in east-
   ern Canada. Canad. J. Bot. 74: 238-242.

Eleocharis engelmannii Steud., E. ovata (Roth) R. &  S.  and  E.
obtusa  (Willd.)  Schultes  of Eleocharis series Ovatae are dis-
tinctive in being CESPITOSE ANNUALS  with  smooth,  brown,  len-
ticular  achenes  and  differentiated tubercles. The southern E.
engelmanii is very rare and localized in eastern Canada [accord-
ing to  the  New  Jepson's  Manual  it  occurs  in  the  Pacific
Northwest from CA to WA]. It is distinctive because its tubercle
is  less than 1/3 as tall as wide, and although it is as wide as
the achene, it is depressed so that it is less than 1/4  of  the
achene  height.  This  species  may also be distinguished by its
short bristles that do not exceed the achene and  by  its  rela-
tively  long,  ellipsoid  spikelets.  Eleocharis  ovata  has two
stamens and the tubercle is less  than  2/3  the  width  of  the
achene  (tubercle  0.30  -  0.48  mm  wide when dry). Eleocharis
obtusa has three stamens and tubercle more than 2/3 the with  of
the achene (tubercle 0.52-0.83 mm wide when dry).

From: "M. Richards" <richardsmte at>

In reference to Norman C. Deno ( BEN # 129):
I  received  a postcard today announcing the First Supplement to
"Seed Germination Theory and Practice" It goes for US$15 at  the
address  given.  I  thought  you  might find this of use. - Mike

Ref.: Deno, N.C. 1993. Seed germination theory and practice. 2nd
   Edition. 242 p. Published and distributed by the author  [Dr.
   Norman  C.  Deno,  139  Lenor Drive, State College, PA 16801,

Submissions, subscriptions, etc.:  aceska at
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