Welcome to this sixteenth edition of Botany News!
1. A note from the editor
2. Arctic-Alpine rock gardens
3. Know your tropical fruit
4. A special announcement to Icelandic readers
5. The flower box
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A note from the editor
Greetings from the land of the midnight sun and a warm welcome to all our readers. Summer is here again, bringing light rain and warm weather to the shores of Iceland. As before, this issue of Botany News contains topics intended for readers from around the globe. You can show your appreciation by recommending our reading material to your friends. All suggestions for improving the newsletter are also welcome. Enjoy reading Botany News!
Arctic-Alpine rock gardens
The ideal location for a rock garden is a well-drained natural slope or terrace. Rock gardens often resemble naturally occurring stony grounds. Locally occurring rock types are usually your most economic and eco-friendly choice of stones. Depending on your preference, the rocks may be arranged as slab spreads, boulder piles, semi-natural rock formations, stone walls or terraces.
Many types of plants are suitable for rock gardens, but low-growing, tuft-forming or cushion plants are often preferred. Perennial plants are most common in rock gardens, although some annuals can be used. The following plant species are good choices for your Arctic-Alpine rock garden, and all occur in the wild here in Iceland. First, we recommend low growing woody plant such as Downy Birch (Betula pubescens), Dwarf Birch (Betula nana), Juniper (Juniperus communis), and the glossy-green leaved Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).
Succulents, as for example, the robust Golden Root (Rhodiola rosea) and the resilient Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre) are an excellent choice for sunny spots in your Arctic-Alpine rock garden. Plant some herbs like the blue-flowered Rock Speedwell (Veronica fruticans), the multi-coloured Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor), and the fragrant Wild thyme (Thymus praecox). The mat-forming Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) and Heath Pearlwort (Sagina subulata) add beauty to the garden. We also suggest you use strongly growing herbaceous plants, such as the large leaved Lady's-Mantle (Alchemilla filicaulis), the creeping Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) or the pink flowered Thrift (Armeria maritima).
The most exquisite rock garden will mimic the best your local flora and nature have to offer. Feel free to consult us for further advice on your Arctic-Alpine rock garden. Above all make your rock garden a natural and pleasant place for you to enjoy the summer.
Know your tropical fruit
Similar to other fruit, tropical fruit may be either sweet or savoury. Good examples are bananas and plantains, both are important staples for people in tropical countries, as well as a source of income. Bananas and plantains belong to the genera Musa and Ensete (family Musaceae). The Musaceae are native to Southeast Asia and have some African native species as well. Interestingly, Musa species are the largest perennial non-woody plants on Earth. Plantains are usually cooked or baked before consumption, whereas bananas are the sweet dessert fruit well know to most of us. There are many different cultivars available with a wide variation of fruit type and quality. However, all require warm weather, full sun and moist but well drained soil for good growth and fruit production. Bananas and plantains are among the most important food plants in the tropics, whether in Southeast Asia, Africa or South and Central America, but are most heavily exported from Central America.
In many developing countries fruit have great importance as food crops. Both mango and papaya are fine examples of fruit with much nutritional and culinary value. Mango trees (Mangifera indicaca) are large flower-producing trees in the Cashew family (Anacardiaceae). The Mango trees are native to Southeast Asia and India, where there is also much production of cultivated fruit. Outside the tropics, mangoes are now cultivated in subtropical and Mediterranean climates. The mango fruit is sweet and fleshy, and can be eaten fresh or prepared in various ways, for example, as mango chutneys. The Mango trees are tough and quite easy to grow in warm climates.
However, Papaya tree (Carica papaya) can only be grown in tropical climates. Given the right conditions, this fruit tree grows rapidly from seed to tree, and the tree then produces a yellow or orange fruit. The fruit of the Papaya tree is a large berry, the papaya, with many seeds surrounded by fruit flesh. The papaya is consumed as a fresh fruit and fruit jam or as a boiled vegetable using the unripe fruit. The Papaya tree is indigenous to southern Mexico, Central and South America, and is rather short-lived while growing well in full sun and good drainage.
The Granadilla (Passiflora edulis) is a large woody vine belonging to the family of Passion Flowers (Passifloraceae) and native to South America. The Granadilla produces white flowers that after fertilization develop into a sweet and juicy fruit, the passion fruit. The passion fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, essential minerals and vitamins, as well as dietary fibre. The fruit is purple or yellow on the outside, with a juicy pulp on the inside. The natural fruit juice is very aromatic. The fruit is very sweet, and best enjoyed as a fresh, ripe fruit or as a sweet liquid, jelly or dessert. The Granadilla is widely grown in tropical and warm climates around the globe, and is consequently an invasive species in certain places such as Hawaii and New Zealand where natural enemies are lacking. There are many other species of Passion Flowers that produce edible fruit, the most important of these being the fruit of the Giant Granadilla (P. quadrangularis).
People living in the tropics can buy fresh or dried fruit in their local food market, and sometimes even handpick fruit from local trees. However, tropical fruit is often transported a long distance to reach foreign markets. Nowadays, there is an increased variety of fresh tropical fruit available in western supermarkets. Even as far north as Iceland, fresh mangoes have recently become available in local markets. Whereas, imported bananas have been a part of our diet for decades and some bananas are even grown here in geothermal greenhouses. Most importantly, wherever you live in the world, eat plenty of fruit!
A special announcement to Icelandic readers:
Sendið okkur bréf og greinar um gróður og græn málefni til birtingar í næsta hefti Gróðurfrétta (Botany News). Hægt er að hafa tengla á ykkar vefsíður í blómakassa (flower box) fréttabréfsins eða á tenglasíðunni. Miðlið af ykkar eigin fróðleik til annarra um efni eins og plöntur, ræktun, og útivist. Sendið okkur tilkynningar og greinar um fjölbreytt efni tengt náttúruvernd, ferðalögum, náttúruljósmyndun, o. s. frv. Minnum einnig á heilsute og kryddvörur frá Þund. Mælum að þessu sinni sérstaklega með fersku óreganó!
The flower box
Botany News welcomes correspondence from persons working on any aspect of botany, ecology and biodiversity. In particular, we welcome contributions from people working for the environment and conservation around the world. Feel free to recommend new links to interesting green webs for the next Flower Box section. The summertime is a wonderful and easy time to visit Iceland and explore its amazing nature, where mountains, cliffs, lava and sands each have their own associated flora and fauna. Why not consider a going on a nature tour such as the Botanical Tours in Iceland?
We have added some interesting new sections for our readers; these include the Botany News Collection, the Links page, and the new resources page. Readers located in Iceland are reminded to check out Thund's sales page for herbs and other natural products. Feedback from readers is welcome whether through our survey or contact pages. You can also send in your own short items on botany and related topics.
BOTANY NEWS is published by Thund, Reykjavik, Iceland
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