BEN # 149
aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Fri Nov 8 11:27:32 EST 1996
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No. 149 November 8, 1996
aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2
THE OLDEST LIVING PLANT INDIVIDUAL
From: Rene Vaillancourt <R.Vaillancourt at plant.utas.edu.au>
[Several people forwarded me a Reuter article "Australian
Shrub Could be Oldest Life" and asked me to post it on
BEN. I found that this newspaper article was based on a
presentation given by Dr. Rene Vaillancourt et al. (1996)
at the Proteaceae Symposium in Melbourne, Australia. Dr.
Vaillancourt kindly sent me the following note for posting
on BEN. - AC]
A team of scientist working at the Plant Science Department,
University of Tasmania and Parks and Wildlife Service, Depart-
ment of Environment and Land Management, Tasmania (Jasmyn Lynch,
Jayne Balmer, Dr. Greg Jordan, Dr. Jocelyne Cambecedes, Richard
Barnes, and Dr. Rene Vaillancourt) have discovered the oldest
living plant individual known to date.
Lomatia tasmanica (common name King's Holly), which is a member
of the Proteaceae family, is known by only one population which
is located in the World Heritage area of South west Tasmania,
Australia. It grows along creek gullies in remnant rain-forest.
An isozyme analysis found that it possessed zero genetic diver-
sity (all living plants of the species are exactly the same). On
the other hand, a closely related species (Lomatia tinctoria)
which also propagates vegetatively had a normal level of genetic
diversity. Chromosome counts revealed that Lomatia tasmanica had
a triploid chromosome number and this genetic information ex-
plains the observations that L. tasmanica appears to be sterile
(it flowers but never forms mature fruits), and shows little
morphological variability. This evidence strongly suggests that
the entire species is a single clone that propagates vegeta-
The L. tasmanica clone (spanning 1.2 km) is the second longest
in the world after the box-huckleberry clone (Gaylussacia
brachycera) in North America (Pennsylvania) which is reported to
be 2 km in length. A clone of this size must be very old.
Indeed, under the cold climate of South-west Tasmania, vegeta-
tive propagation is likely to be very slow.
Fortunately, fossil leaf fragments, identical to living L.
tasmanica were found in a fossil deposit 8.5 km of the extant
population. These permit a more precise age estimate. These
fossils have a 14C age of 43,600 years. The oldest reported
plant clone is the box-huckleberry which was aged at 13,000
years (Wherry 1972). The oldest living tree is believed to be a
bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata) in Arizona which has been
dated using dendrochronology at 4,700 years. Lomatia tasmanica
appears to be the oldest living plant individual known to date.
A manuscript that details all the analysis has been submitted to
the Australian Journal of Botany.
Literature cited and further reading:
Cook, R. E. (1983). Clonal plant populations. American Scientist
Vaillancourt, R.E., G. Jordan, J. Cambacedes and A. J. J. Lynch.
1996. Is Lomatia tasmanica a 43,000 year old clone? Presented
at the Royal Botanical Gardens Commemorative Conference,
Proteaceae Symposium, Sept. 29-Oct. 5. Melbourne, Vic.
Wherry, E. T. (1972). Box-huckleberry as the oldest living
protoplasm. Castanea 37, 94-95.
RE: UPROAR ON THE LICHENS-L DISCUSSION LIST - FAX NO. CORRECTION
From: Sylvia Duran Sharnoff <sylvia at idiom.com> on
lichens-l at hawaii.edu
Many people have been having trouble getting through to Colin
Eades' fax number at the Canadian Museum of Nature. There seems
to have been something wrong with the phone line. As of today,
Tuesday, Nov. 5, there is a working number:
Irwin Brodo's meeting with Colin Eades has been postponed until
Nov. 18, so there is more time to get messages to Eades. Please
keep more coming!
Coe, Sophie D. & Michael D. Coe. 1996. THE TRUE HISTORY OF
CHOCOLATE. Thames & Hudson, Inc., New York. 280 p. ISBN 0-
500-01693-3 [hard cover] Price US$27.50
Dr. Sophie Dobzhansky Coe (daughter of the well-known
geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky) started to work on this
history of chocolate and cacao in about 1988, spent numerous
hours in various libraries, and collected a lot of original
material. After her death of cancer in May 1994, her husband
Prof. Michael Coe, an anthropologist specializing in
Mesoamerican research, finished the book and prepared it for
publication. Following a thread of Cacao Tree through history
you will learn about Maya and Aztec culture, go through the
Spanish conquest of Central America, and explore the choco-
late conquest of Europe. This book is a work of love, not
only the love of chocolate, but primarily the love of his-
tory, life, and of a deceased spouse. Even if you don't like
chocolate, this book is a feast. I could not find any mention
of Carob, although the authors listed other substances (such
as ground bricks) as cacao substitutes. Address of the pub-
lisher: Thames and Hudson, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
Brayshaw, T.C. 1996. TREES AND SHRUBS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA. Royal
British Columbia Museum Handbook. University of British
Columbia Press & Royal B.C. Museum, Vancouver - Victoria. 374
p. ISBN 0-7748-0564-1 [soft cover] Price CND $24.95
This book deals with about 300 species of trees and shrubs
both native and escaped from cultivation that occur in
British Columbia. All the species are illustrated with
author's own excellent line drawings of branches (or whole
plants) with leaves, flowers and fruits. Important iden-
tification characters are also illustrated in detail, and
this, together with good (indented) keys helps to reliably
identify the plants. There are 76 plates of plants together
with 3 plates explaining morphological terms. The arrangement
of plants on plates, however, dictated the order of genera
within families and the order of species within genera.
Descriptions of closely related species are sometime far
apart, if their illustrations fell to two different plates
(e.g., Vaccinium ovalifolium and V. alaskaense). Once you
know this, you can get through the book faster, but it took
me a while before I understood the strange sequence (neither
alphabetic, nor phylogenetic). You can order the book
directly from the UBC Press (phone 604-822-3259, Fax 1-800-
668-0821, e-mail orders at ubcpress.ubc.ca), and of course, in
Victoria, you can get it from the Royal B.C. Museum gift shop
or from The Field-Naturalist.
Cannings, R. & S. Cannings. 1996. BRITISH COLUMBIA: A NATURAL
HISTORY. Graystone Books, Vancouver. 310 p. ISBN 1-55054-497-
7 [hard cover] Price CND$45.00
Some time ago I admired a book on natural history of Alberta
and I wished British Columbia would have a similar treatment.
Richard and Syd Cannings came with this fine summary. The
first chapters deal with geology, oceanography, glaciation,
and post-glacial history of the Province, and establish a
framework for description of its major ecological regions.
The book is richly illustrated with great photographs and
line drawings, the text is well balanced (you will recognize,
but forget that the Cannings brothers are zoologists!) and
the general text is accompanied with numerous "boxes"
describing and illustrating various interesting special
aspects of our natural history. Address of the publisher:
Graystone Books, Division of Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 1615
Venables Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5L 2H1
Davis, Wade. 1996. ONE RIVER: EXPLORATIONS AND DISCOVERIES IN
THE AMAZON RAIN FOREST. Simon & Schuster, New York. 537 p.
ISBN 0-684-80886-2 [hard cover] Price US$27.50
This book is a fascinating account of ethnobotanical studies
done in South America by Prof. Richard E. Schultes and his
students (namely the late Tim Plowman). ONLY IN VICTORIA:
Wade Davis will talk here on November 25, in the Crystal
Garden at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($5.00 or no charge if you buy a
book) in the Munro Books and possibly some other bookstores.
Adams, Scott. 1996. THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE. HarperCollins Pub-
lishers, Inc. New York. 336 p. ISBN 0-88730-787-6 [hard
cover] Price $20.00
Scott Adams is the creator of "Dilbert" - a cartoon serial
that is syndicated in many North American newspapers and
highly valued for its true reflections of corporate America.
Compared with the Parkinson's Law or Peter Principle, Adams
does not try to find how the corporations and similar systems
work; he is a passive observer of modern management
processes, such as downsizing, rightsizing, flattening, and
creating quality teams. He does not analyze their functions,
but only shows the reader what is the accepted norm in the
modern management (or managerial?) practices. It's not
without interest that shortly after the publication of "Dil-
bert Principle" the Government of British Columbia launched
its Blitz reorganization in order to get even closer to the
norms described in the book.
Submissions, subscriptions, etc.: aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca
BEN is archived on gopher freenet.victoria.bc.ca. The URL is:
Also archived at http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/
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