BOTANY NEWS

Botanical Information

Welcome to this fifth edition of Botany News!

TOPICS:

  1. A note from the editor
  2. Plants growing in the interior of Iceland
  3. The worlds of beans
  4. The green tabloid
  5. Submit your own Botany News article!
  6. The flower box

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A note from the editor
Season's Greetings! Welcome back to Botany News the new botanical online e-zine. I hope you are enjoying still enjoying the outdoors, park visits and garden walks, wherever you are in the world! I am still looking for more communications from readers, telling us their own stories from the summer! If you like Botany News feel free to forward it to your plant-loving friends. Some of you are already signed up and are receiving this ezine via email. The future of Botany News depends on enthusiastic readers, willing to exchange information on plants and events in botany. I strongly encourage you to send in information of mutual benefit to botanists and all suggestions for improving the ezine are welcome. Enjoy reading Botany News during the holiday season!

Plants growing in the interior of Iceland
In Iceland, tundra is largely confined to the interior that has very short summers as well as extensive sands interspersed with stretches of wetlands along rivers. The barrens in the central highlands of Iceland have very sparse vegetation. The species growing there are well adapted to the short summer. The plants need to tolerate drifting sand and extreme soil conditions. Some of the species form dense cushions. Among them are Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) and Tufted Saxifrage (Saxifraga caespitosa), while Thrift (Armeria maritima) forms a smaller rosette. Moss Campion forms a dense cushion with small but fragrant pink flowers. When the flowers are absent the bright green leaves in the cushion are more pronounced. Tufted Saxifrage carries white flowers. This species is widespread in Iceland. Thrift carries a rosette of fleshy leaves. Grasses, rushes and sedges grow as stoloniferous or tussock-forming species on the tundra sand. These species depend on vegetative growth for many years but also reproduce sexually. Facilitation may occur when aggregations of some species, for example, Moss Campion, form cushions that provide shelter or otherwise suitable conditions for the establishment of other plant species. Plants of the barrens growing as perennial rosettes, cushions and tussocks may reproduce by seed and disperse into new sites in the vast sands of the interior.

The world of beans
Broad Bean (Vicia faba), is confined mostly to tropical regions of the world, while requiring a cool season for its development. This plant is grown as a winter annual in the warm temperate and subtropical regions and is cultivated for its seeds that are consumed either immature or mature. The beans are marketed in their green pods. Broad Beans are very popular in Europe, including the Mediterranean and in many tropical countries. French Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is a twinning plant believed to be derived from Central America and Mexico. These beans were brought to Europe by the Spanish and Portuguese. The beans tolerate a wide range of conditions in tropical and temperate countries, but do poorly in the very wet tropics where rain causes disease and flower drop. These plants are sensitive to diurnal fluctuations, folding their leaves together at night, while at dawn the leaves unfold towards the sun. Some cultivars yield yellow pods, but pods are more commonly green. Snap Beans are a cultivar of French Beans used as entire pods, other cultivars are eaten as immature green seeds, while the third group consists of dry beans. Lima Beans (Phaseolus lunatus) are climbing perennial plants. They grow over adjacent vegetation in the wet season and then die back in the dry season. The seeds are large and variable in colour. These beans are now cultivated in South America, Asia and Africa. They are now a very important crop plant in Africa. White Lima Beans contain smaller amounts of cyanogens and need less cooking. Mung Bean (Phaeseolus aureus) is an annual plant and is commonly grown in Asia, especially China, while also being a popular food plant in western countries. Sprouts are popular in salads and stir-fries. Soybean (Glycine max) is a source of edible oil and is now cultivate on a large scale in the United States. In Indonesia fermented soybeans are consumed as tempe, and as tofu in China and Japan. Soy sauce is a Soybean product. Soybeans are very popular nowadays, partly because they are very rich in protein. Most beans are nutritive and rich in proteins, they are a good source of B vitamins, mineral and fibre. Beans are best cooked in plenty of water and often require soaking before being cooked.

The Green Tabloid
Water, soil and Earth's green biosphere are the support system for animal life on planet Earth. Plants are a part of the continuum of life, where the important interactions of plants and animals occur. While both herbicides and pesticides have been with us for decades, and provide us humans with partial control over nature, the use of these compounds must constantly be reconsidered to improve methods for reducing their harmful effects to living beings in ecological food chains. Our garden hedges are homes for pollinating butterflies, beetles, bees and dipteran flies. Many of these insects are necessary for our cultivation efforts and the destruction of their homes remains questionable. Similarly, herbicides may destroy fertile soils, and as much as we would like to clear our gardens of weeds, the weeds are an indication of a healthy, organic garden. Herbicides and pesticides often end up in undesirable places in nature. Many toxic chemicals also have a way of persisting in the environment, both in food and water supplies for wildlife and humans. A toxic chemical, an insecticide or herbicide, may be sprayed or dusted onto crop plants. The chemical may enter the soil or remain on the plant's leaves until rain or irrigation washes the chemical further into ground-water, rivers and oceans. While high concentrations of toxic chemicals seldom accumulate in the hydrological systems, many compounds are found in higher concentration in fish and waterfowl as well as human beings. All in all, caution is needed in the use of pesticides and herbicides, while exploring alternative ways of keeping our garden and crop plants healthy.

Submit your own Botany News article!
You can write on any topic related to botany. Short essays on plant biology are especially popular. It can also be a review of recent botanical developments. Anything that will help your fellow botanists and make it possible for them progress in their work!

The articles need be approximately 300-1000 words. If needed or requested editing will be made of English and style. The editor may request some changes and articles that do not fit the profile or purpose of Botany News are not published. Your article is still yours and you keep the full copyright. Submit your Botany News article!

The flower box
The Iceland Touring Association was founded in the early 20th century and its goal is to promote travel in Iceland. All are welcome to join the society and members enjoy privileges when it comes to accommodation in huts and trips offered by the society. If you feel like visiting Iceland during the summer you could also sign up for Customized Botanical Tours in Iceland. Please, remember to fill in the Expression of Interest Form as this will greatly help us to make your visit better. The spring, summer, and autumn are good times to explore the nature of Iceland. Updated information about the tours will be published in this section. If you wish to participate and are planning a trip to Iceland contact us well in advance.

For vegetarians visiting Iceland there are several options. You could visit some of the downtown Reykjavik vegetarian restaurants including the modern Grænn kostur or more traditional Á næstu grösum. Alternatively, try Lækjarbrekka a cozy restaurant serving some vegetarian dishes or check the world's most northerly Indian restaurant, AusturIndíafélagið!

However, if would like to leave the Reykjavik city consider staying on farms and enjoying the tranquil countryside. This section publishes brief announcements about botany and related issues. Announcements about meetings, excursions, courses, jobs and other important items are consider for publication here. Announcements are generally less than 300 words. Readers located in Iceland are encouraged to check out Thund’s sales page for new botanical health products. Submit your Botany News announcement!

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Best wishes, Soffia Arnthorsdottir

BOTANY NEWS is published by Thund, Reykjavik, Iceland

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November 25, 2005 -- Botany News, Issue #005




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