BEN # 175

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Mon Nov 3 04:24:47 EST 1997


                                                   
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No. 175                              November 3, 1997

aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca        Victoria, B.C.
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 Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2
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A LOST "LIVING FOSSIL" REDISCOVERED IN MADAGASCAR

From: http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/madagascar/takhweb.html
   [Abstract. The original, illustrated article was written 
   by  George E. Schatz, Porter P. Lowry II, & Annick 
   Ramisamihantanirina, Missouri Botanical Garden]

Takhtajania perrieri (Winteraceae) rediscovered in Madagascar

Spectacular  finds of early Cretaceous fossil flowers during the
past decade have fueled a resurgence of research on  the  origin
of  flowering  plants.  Now,  scientists  will once again have a
"living fossil" to study and  place  in  the  context  of  other
primitive  angiosperms.  Takhtajania  perrieri  (Capuron)  J.-F.
Leroy & Baranova, the only extant representative of  the  family
Winteraceae  occurring in the Africa/Madagascar region, has been
rediscovered in  northeastern  Madagascar  85  years  after  its
original finding.

At  the suggestion of Peter H. Raven, beginning in 1974 with the
late Alwyn Gentry, Missouri Botanical Garden botanists and their
Malagasy colleagues have searched in  vain  at  the  Manongarivo
Special Reserve in northwestern Madagascar where French botanist
Henri  Perrier  de  la Bathie had collected the only specimen in
1909. Then in 1994, the Malagasy plant collector Fanja Rasoavim-
bahoaka, carrying out botanical inventory as  part  of  a  joint
program  between  the  Missouri  Botanical  Garden (MBG) and the
World Wide Fund for Nature, collected a flowering  tree  in  the
Anjahanaribe-Sud   Special  Reserve  southwest  of  Andapa.  The
specimens were identified as Takhtajania in  late  May  of  this
year  by  MBG botanist George E. Schatz. The new locality is 150
km to the southeast of the original collection. In June, a  team
of  MBG  Malagasy staff botanists relocated the site of the 1994
collection, and have subsequently begun to accrue  material  for
the  numerous  specialized studies to be conducted in the coming
months by scientists throughout  the  world.  Preliminary  field
surveys indicate a large and thriving population.

Takhtajania  perrieri  was  originally  described in 1963 by the
French forest botanist Rene Capuron in the genus  Bubbia,  known
from  Australia, New Caledonia and the Lord Howe Islands. On the
basis of several anomalous features  unique  within  Winteraceae
(such  as  a  putative  paracarpous  bicarpellate  gynoecium and
anomocytic stomata), Jean-Francois Leroy and Margarita  Baranova
in  1978  created  a  new genus and subfamily to accommodate the
species, naming it in honor of the Russian [actually Armenian  -
AC] plant systematist Armen Takhtajan.

In  St.  Louis  in June, while celebrating his 87th birthday and
the publication of his latest synthesis on the classification of
flowering plants, Dr. Takhtajan was presented with a specimen of
Takhtajania  for  the  Komarov  Botanical   Institute   in   St.
Petersburg.  Both  he  and  the  entire  international botanical
community anxiously await  the  forthcoming  studies  that  this
wonderful rediscovery will engender.

[See also: http://38.214.184.12/sn_arc97/8_2_97/fob1.htm ]


FAMILY WINTERACEAE
From:  Woodland,  D.W.  1997.  Contemporary  plant  systematics.
   Second edition, p. 139. [See NEW BOOKS below.]

The family Winteraceae consists of  9  genera  and  100  species
distributed  in  the  montane  subtropics and tropics of Mexico,
Central  and  South  America,  most  diverse   in   southeastern
Australasia,  and  absent  from  Africa,  except Madagascar. The
largest  genera  are  Tasmania  (40  species)  and  Bubbia   (30
species).

Economically  the  groups is of very little value, except Drimys
winteri, winter's bark from South America, which is  used  as  a
tonic locally.

Along  with  the  Magnoliaceae, the Winteraceae is considered by
most modern classifications  to  be  one  of  the  oldest  known
flowering  plant  families.  Pollen  remains  attributed  to the
Winteraceae come from the Upper Cretaceous deposits, with  other
plant parts from Oligocene formations.


NEW BOOKS: CONTEMPORARY PLANT SYSTEMATICS, SECOND EDITION

Woodland,  D.W.  1997.  Contemporary  plant  sytematics.  Second
   edition. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs, Michigan.
   619 p. ISBN 1-883925-14-2 [soft cover]. Enclosed is a compact
   disk with "CD-ROM Photo-atlas of vascular plants" (with  3000
   photographs of vascular plants). Price: US$59.95
   
   Ordering   information:  Andrews  University  Press,  Berrien
   Springs, MI 49104-1700. Credit cards  accepted.  Phone:  616-
   471-6915,  or  800-467-6369  (restricted to individual orders
   paying with a VISA or MasterCard).
   E-mail: aupress at andrews.edu

The  book  was  written as a text book for universities and col-
leges, and it covers all major vascular plant  families  of  the
world.  Although  it  is most relevant to temperate flora, it is
not restricted to the temperate region. The first  part  of  the
book consists of introductory chapters on systematics, nomencla-
ture,  botanical literature, herbarium techniques, etc. The main
core of the book (Chapters 6 to 10) covers about 260 families of
vascular plants of the world. The final chapters (Chapters 11 to
15) cover the history of botanical classification, the origin of
vascular plants,  methods of plant systematics, problems  of en-
dangered species, and the role of botanical gardens.

The  book  serves  well  both  as  a textbook and as a botanical
reference. It is richly illustrated with line  drawings,  black-
and-white  photographs,  and summary diagrams. Enclosed with the
book is a compact disk with about  3000  colour  photographs  of
vascular  plants  from 264 plant families. (Family Winteraceae -
see above - is represented by 4 pictures on the compact disk.)

The book is well written, and it is extremely user-friendly. The
compact disk, on the other hand, is rather difficult to use. The
authors of the  CD-ROM  Photo-Atlas  recommend  Windows  95  and
Quicktime  1.1  or  2.1  to view the files. My computer-literate
friend discovered that you  can  use  a  web  browser  (such  as
Netscape  or  Microsoft  Internet  Explorer) and open the Photo-
Atlas files as local files. I found browsing  through  the  pic-
tures  exciting.  Imagine  getting 3000 of these selected slides
with your book! However, the selection of pictures is uneven  in
certain  groups (majority of Carex pictures refer to the section
Pseudocypereae), and you can find occasional  mistakes  ("Juncus
sp."  is in fact Luzula subgen. Pterodes, perhaps L. acuminata).
Overall, the quality of the CD-ROM Photo-Atlas is very good.

The book gives a clear, enjoyable introduction to  the  taxonomy
of vascular plants and it is an excellent textbook of systematic
botany for college and university courses.

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