Field of Science

Botany 2015 by the numbers and some plant identification

TPP has been struggling with a few plant identifications these past couple of hours; a sunflower (just checking the id - Helianthus laetiflorus var. rigidus), a rosinweed, a couple of species (maybe?) of Solidago, and an unknown Aster with tiny little rayless heads. Does everyone know what SYC stands for? At any rate if you have ever waded through identification keys for any of these, especially the aster and goldenrod, you'll understand why TPP is allowing some email distraction followed by a bit of blogging.
The final report on the North American botany meetings that TPP just attended in Edmonton, Alberta, provided some encouraging numbers and demonstrated that this was one of the most diverse and best attended botany meetings in any ones' memory. Over 1600 students and faculty, and at least one dean, were in attendance, and while largely from the USA and Canada, over 50 countries were in represented. Over 900 talks and lectures were presented and there were acres of posters (almost 500 posters) and not enough time to see any thing close to all of them. This meeting was a collaboration among 14 scientific societies. It was just great. If you want to get a flavor of all this botanical science here's a link to some youtube videos of people presenting their posters. There are a couple of TPP's favorite colleagues in there, but they won't be identified so as to not sully their reputations.
Back to plant IDs. Ah, TPP guessed rightly about the aster being an Aster; it was tricky because it's a species that lacks ray flowers. Surprisingly, only one herbarium specimen exists of Aster brachyactis for positive comparison probably because of this plants drab, ho-hum floral display and weedy demeanor. However, that was an old field guide (but familiar) and the Flora of North America indicates that this species has been moved to another genus and reduced to synonymy with Symphyotrichum ciliatum. Here's a link to this beauty. 

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