Archivos de diario de diciembre 2020

01 de diciembre de 2020

December 2020 EcoQuest: Spot Spurge

Join the December EcoQuest: Spot Spurge.

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are often a botanical highlight of the holiday season, but this month we are taking a look at one of their relatives: sandmats. The red, white, and green colors of these plants and their matted growing habit can bring garland or knit sweaters to mind. There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to these tiny tenacious “weeds.” Get into the holiday spirit, get your closeup lenses ready and see how many sandmat spurge plants you can spot.


Join the EcoQuest here:
December EcoQuest: Spot Spurge
Species seen in metro Phoenix on iNaturalist


This EcoQuest is focused on sandmat spurge plants (Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum)

Overcoming some of the harshest urban conditions, these evolutionary champions can be found all over metro Phoenix. Often going unnoticed until they frustrate gardeners or lawn care enthusiasts, sandmats use their prostrate growing habit and exponential seed production to the best of their ability.
There are so many species of sandmats that they have their own section with nearly 400 different species. Sandmats are in the section Anisophyllum. This section is in the genus Euphorbia. A section is a taxonomic rank above species and below genus. The reason for botanical sections is to help with organization, especially when genera are very large, like this one.
Sandmats have interesting adaptations that make them well equipped for survival. They have evolved to grow in a prostrate form, meaning most of the plant grows on or just above the ground. This adaptation helps them go unnoticed underfoot and avoid being eaten by animals. The milky latex sap they produce when broken is also an animal deterrent. Adding to their survival expertise, these plants are allelopathic and each plant can produce several thousand sticky seeds that are explosively dehiscent. Allelopathic means they exude chemicals that keep other plants from growing around them. Having explosive dehiscent seeds means that their seed pods dry, split open and forcefully fling seeds for some distance.

Get ready for a challenge. Sandmats can be very difficult to identify, so great photographs and details are key. A hand lens or closeup lenses on a phone or camera can be very helpful. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of spurges is their flowering structure, called a cyathium, and cyathiums on sandmats are tiny! Other distinguishing characteristics of Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum include opposite leaves, generally asymmetric leaves, and a clear “upper” and “lower” side to their stems. There are both native and non-native species here in metro Phoenix. Don’t worry too much about identifying these plants to a species level, they can be really tricky! All observations can be helpful and contribute. (See the Description section for identification resources). @NathanTaylor has created a helpful guide for photographing sandmats: Making Great Sandmat Observations


Image by Matt Berger (@sheriff_woody_pct)

As amazing as these small plants are, little is known about their ecological interactions such as pollination. It has been found that ants can help disperse seed and that the smallest bee in North America pollinates sandmat species here in the Sonoran Desert: Perdita minima. Others have been found to be self-pollinating. Could there be other pollinators? Which pollinators visit which species? What insects interact with sandmats? What are the native and non-native distributions? Maybe you can help answer these questions.


Photo by Stephen Buchmann from USFS

Sandmats are a fascinating world of microstructures and adaptation. Understanding more about these common “weeds” can provide an appreciation and respect for them in their own right.

FUN FACT: Another relative of sandmats, fire stick (Euphorbia tirucalli) should be starting to turn bright reddish orange, putting on a show this month.


Observing and mapping sandmats in metro Phoenix can provide information and data about occurrences and species populations. Ecological interactions like pollination and seed dispersal are especially needed.
The data gathered through this EcoQuest can contribute to Ph.D. student Nathan Taylor’s efforts and research at the University of Oklahoma. Nathan is especially interested in Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum and has various projects to join on iNaturalist. For our area, it may be most helpful to contribute to "Organisms Associated with Euphorbia." The ecology of sandmats in metro Phoenix is little understood, and our efforts can contribute to this knowledge.


Nathan’s Projects:
Organisms Associated with Euphorbia
Sandmats of the World
Euphorbia Species of the United States



If you can’t get enough of sandmats, listen to this enjoyable, informative and fascinating podcast interview with Nathan on In Defense of Plants.
In Defense of Plants: Spurge is the Word

!!!PLEASE NOTE: Like all plants in the Euphorbia family, sandmats leak a milky latex sap when broken. This sap can be extremely irritating. Take care to not get the sap on your skin or in your mouth or eyes.

WHAT TO OBSERVE:
Scientific Name: (Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum)
Common Names: Sandmat spurge, prostrate spurge
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)

DESCRIPTION:
Please see the following resources to aid in identification of sandmats:
Section Anisophyllum Explained by Nathan Taylor
Key from Flora of North America
Nonexclusive list of species that have been found in metro Phoenix on iNaturalist
Sandmats on SEINet

WHERE TO OBSERVE:
All over metro Phoenix. These little impressive plants can be found growing in sidewalk cracks, through asphalt, in gardens and in natural areas. They are great at going unnoticed, so keep a sharp lookout!


Supporting Sources:
American Journal of Botany (Joan Ehrenfeld):
https://bsapubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.1537-2197.1976.tb11828.x
BioOne (William D. Wiesenborn):
https://bioone.org/journals/the-pan-pacific-entomologist/volume-91/issue-2/2015-91.2.148/Absorbing-incident-ultraviolet-light-decreases-landings-by-Diptera-and-Hymenoptera/10.3956/2015-91.2.148.short
iNaturalist:
https://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=1364&clid=3116
In Defense of Plants: Spurge is the Word with Nathan Taylor
https://www.indefenseofplants.com/podcast/tag/Anisophyllum
University of California
http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7445.html
USFS: Peridita minima-“World’s Smallest Bee”
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/perdita_minima.shtml




EcoQuests are month-long challenges that are part of the larger Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project.
You can learn more and join the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/metro-phoenix-ecoflora

Sign up for the newsletter at ecofloraphx@dbg.org.
Let's be social @ecofloraphx

PLEASE observe COVID-19 guidelines/recommendations.
This a great opportunity to get outdoors close to home as we all navigate the complications of COVID-19. However, it is imperative that you follow the guidelines/recommendations of your local governments and institutions (wear a mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands). Do what’s best for you and your community.

Arizona Office of Tourism: Responsible Recreation in AZ
https://tourism.az.gov/responsible-recreation-across-arizona

Please do not observe indoor houseplants or pets.
For your own safety and the protection of plants and wildlife, do not trespass when making observations. Please follow all posted rules and guidelines in parks/preserves and do not enter private property.
Do not remove or move natural materials (plants, animals, rocks).
Respect wildlife (do not touch, feed, or disturb animals and keep a safe distance).

Ingresado el 01 de diciembre de 2020 por jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de diciembre de 2020

EcoFlora Survey and Quick-Quests

Hello everyone and Happy Holidays!

As the year comes to a close, we have feelings of immense gratitude for how far the project has come and excitement for what will come with the new year. Thank you all for your support, encouragement, and participation in the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora. We cannot state enough that the project would not be what it is without you!

If you don't already know, the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora is part of a larger program across the country, with partner gardens in New York, Chicago, Denver and Sarasota-Manatee, each with their own EcoFlora. To help us continue to build upon and improve the overall EcoFlora, we really want to hear from you! Do you enjoy being a part of the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora? Has it increased your appreciation of plant life or understanding of urban biodiversity? Let us know with this short survey. The survey will close December 15th.
Take the Community Survey
Thank you!


In addition to the EcoQuest this month, there are two Quick-Quests. These "mini-EcoQuests" work just like EcoQuests, except for a shorter amount of time. From December 4-14, see if you can find desert mistletoe, and from December 18-28, look for Christmas cholla. These Quick-Quests are focused on urban areas only, meaning anywhere outside of natural areas like parks and preserves. There are currently less than five observations of these species in urban areas, can we change that? Join in on the fun and see if you can beat the clock to find these species in urban areas of metro Phoenix. All observers who can find these plants in urban areas will receive a Metro Phoenix EcoFlora sticker.
Quick-Quest: Desert Mistletoe
Quick-Quest: Christmas Cholla

One more note: again, if you have not signed up for the newsletter, we highly encourage you to do so. It is a great way to make sure you're in the loop about EcoQuests, events, and all things EcoFlora.
Newsletter Signup

That's it for now. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and wonderful holiday season!

Ingresado el 02 de diciembre de 2020 por jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de diciembre de 2020

November 2020 EcoQuest Results

The November EcoQuest was seeking desert broom (Baccharis sarothroides, with a focus on dense urban areas where data is lacking. As an added challenge, we were on the lookout for great purple hairstreak butterflies (Atlides halesus), who favor this plant.

Adding in the 105 observations made during this EcoQuest, there are now 318 observations of this plant in metro Phoenix. Way to go! Is there anything you notice about the location of the observations? Did you notice pollinators while making observations? More female or male plants?

By looking at the map, we can see that the majority of plants that have been observed tend to be near water or places that are close to areas with some natural features. Could this mean that heavy urbanization reduces desert broom populations? This could also support the necessity for natural areas to be woven into urban environments.

Although no observations were made of great purple hairstreak butterflies, there were sightings of bees and other pollinators. @kristen-c observed what looks like a ceraunus blue butterfly. (Hemiargus ceraunus). There were very few observations of great purple hairstreaks to begin with, but not seeing any this year could be due to a number of factors. Below is a summary from the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy's Parsons Field Institute butterfly count from this October.


Results by the numbers:

Totals:
105 observations by 22 observers
Most Observations:
@ecoexplorers with 28 and @donnawalkuski a very close second with 27

The graphs below also show the sex of plants that have been given an annotation.


We hope this EcoQuest helped you learn about this ecologically important native plant.

Thank you for your contributions, Neighborhood Naturalists!

Ingresado el 03 de diciembre de 2020 por jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de diciembre de 2020

EcoQuestions with Nathan Taylor

Join us for EcoQuestions with @nathantaylor and explore the world of sandmats.

Thursday, December 17th | 5 p.m. MST

You may have read about Nathan in the current EcoQuest: Spot Spurge. An avid and active iNaturalist user, Nathan has several projects and has likely identified some of your sandmat observations. Nathan is a Ph.D. student at Oklahoma State University working in the Department of Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution. His primary interest is sandmat spurges, focused in the high plains of Texas and New Mexico. Nathan will be sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm about these incredible plants, our local species, identification information and answering your questions.

This is a free virtual event open to the public. Click here to register.

Hope to see you there!

Ingresado el 09 de diciembre de 2020 por jenydavis jenydavis | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de diciembre de 2020

January 2021 EcoQuest: Seize the Cheese

Kickin' off the New Year with a new EcoQuest!

Join the January EcoQuest: Seize the Cheese.
Find and map as many cheeseweed plants (Malva parviflora) as possible.

An ambiguous leafy green plant, cheeseweed can be found all over metro Phoenix. Green and growing in January, this naturalized “weed” has both its uses and drawbacks.


Join the EcoQuest here: Seize the Cheese
See it on SEINet

Cheeseweed (Malva parviflora) is a somewhat low-growing forb that can form large, overtaking clumps, sometimes the size of small shrubs. It was documented in metro Phoenix in the early 1900s. The voucher below was created in 1940, in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa (Onk Akimel O’Odham and Xalychidom Piipaash) area. It is assumed to be introduced to North America from Europe in the early 1800s, possibly intended as an edible green.

The common name “cheeseweed” comes from the fruits resembling a tiny wheel of cheese (Garden Betty has some wonderful images here). No, they do not smell or taste like cheese, but these fruits are edible, along with the leaves. This plant has been eaten raw or cooked for ages in the Mediterranean Basin, often being used in ways similar to spinach. Medicinal uses have also been reported for cheeseweed. Pliny the Elder even wrote that “a spoonful of mallow would rid one of all diseases.” Caution needs to be taken, however, when harvesting and eating this plant, especially in urban areas. When growing in nitrogen rich soils, the leaves can accumulate high levels of nitrates, leading to nitrate poisoning. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant for food or medicine.


Image of flowers by Leslie Landrum. Cheeseweed fruit image credit: Ohio State Weed Lab, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org.

Ironically, cheeseweed can harm other crops. It can outcompete desirable crops and cause a decrease in yields. In addition, they can interfere with machines that are used for harvesting and can vector various viruses, including tomato spotted wilt, alfalfa mosaic, yellow leaf curl, and cotton leaf crumple. Once established, they are very difficult to remove due to their long taproot and seeds that can last for years in the soil. Since cheeseweed tends to grow close to farmland and pastures, it can be a considerable problem for farmers in the area.
In addition, cheeseweed can crowd out native plants and is considered invasive in certain regions. In our area, it has become naturalized (meaning it is a non-native that has been able to reproduce and maintain itself over time without human help). While not as tenacious as invasive grasses, it can be found in abundance in wilderness areas. Cheeseweed grows well in sites with disturbed soils, like vacant lots, alleys, and roadsides, which has landed it on ADOT’s list for maintaining right of ways. Near urban parks, playgrounds and sports fields, it can even be a trip hazard. Surprisingly, this plant has not been observed in abundance on iNaturalist.


Cheeseweed growing in the Superstition Wilderness area.

Fun Fact: Cheeseweed is in the mallow family (Malvaceae) and is related to the plant that marshmallow confections were originally made from (Althaea officinalis).

Cheeseweed is considered both an edible and medicinal plant, as well as a problematic weed. Data for these plants is lacking in metro Phoenix, with only a little over 100 observations.Observing and mapping cheeseweed in metro Phoenix can provide information about occurrences, population size and density, which has yet to be estimated. Using the observation map, we can possibly see areas where it could be beneficial to remove this plant. We can possibly see how it could be crowding out native species in certain areas, such as local parks. This observation data could also help farmers to prevent its spread and control disease.


WHAT TO OBSERVE:
Scientific Name: Malva parviflora
Common Names: Cheeseweed, common mallow
Spanish: Hierba de queso; malva de flor pequena
Pima: Tashmahak
Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)

DESCRIPTION:
Duration: Annual or biennial, sometimes stated as perennial
Nativity: Non-Native
Lifeform: Forb/Herb
General: Introduced annual trailing or ascending herb, slightly pubescent to glabrate
Leaves: Orbicular or reniform, 2-7 cm long, crenate, undulate, or 5-7 lobed
Flowers: Usually May- October, 1-4 in leaf axils, short-pedicellate, calyx 3-4 mm long, accrescent to 7-8 mm in fruit, petals lavender or white, 4-5 mm long
Fruits: Nearly glabrous, mericarps around 10, rugose or wrinkled dorsally and winged at the angle between the dorsal and lateral walls
Ecology: Found on roadsides and in fields, disturbed ground and urban habitats from 1,000-7,000 ft (305-2134 m); flowers most of the year
Distribution: Native to the Mediterranean region, widespread as a weed in North America, but only reported once from the Chicago Region in a railroad yard. Can be found all over metro Phoenix, including natural areas
Ethnobotany: Decoction of leaves or roots used as a rinse for dandruff & to soften the hair after the hair wash. Infusion of leaves, soft stems and flowers used as poultice on swellings. Also used as a tea.
Notes: Malva parviflora is most similar to M. rotundifolia, but in that species the mericarps are not winged, its flower and fruit stalks are longer (at least 1 cm), and it tends to be a more low spreading plant. Also very similar is M. neglecta, but its flowers and fruit have much longer stalks, the mericarps are not wrinkled or pitted but are densely covered with short soft hairs, and the petals are obviously longer than the sepals.

WHERE TO OBSERVE:
Anywhere within the project boundary. Can be found largely in sites with disturbed soils, vacant lots, roadsides, alleys, urban parks, pastures and fields. Observations made anywhere there is not currently a group of observations are the most helpful!


Sources:
SEINet: https://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=malva+parviflora&formsubmit=Search+Terms
Voucher: https://swbiodiversity.org/imglib/h_seinet/seinet/DES/DES00031/DES00031723.jpg
Native American Ethnobotany Database
http://naeb.brit.org/uses/search/?string=Malva+parviflora
Northern Arizona Invasive Plants
https://www.nazinvasiveplants.org/cheeseweed
University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources
http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74127.html
Plants for a Future
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Malva+parviflora
University of Arizona: Arizona Agriculture
https://www.azeconomy.org/2019/09/economy/arizona-agriculture-not-your-average-farmers/
https://climas.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/pdfcontribution-agriculture-maricopa-county.pdf
ADOT
https://azdot.gov/sites/default/files/2019/07/study-guide-for-row-herbicide-applicator-test.pdf




EcoQuests are month-long challenges that are part of the larger Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project.
You can learn more and join the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora here:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/metro-phoenix-ecoflora

Sign up for the newsletter at ecofloraphx@dbg.org.
Let's be social @ecofloraphx

PLEASE observe COVID-19 guidelines/recommendations.
This a great opportunity to get outdoors close to home as we all navigate the complications of COVID-19. However, it is imperative that you follow the guidelines/recommendations of your local governments and institutions (wear a mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands). Do what’s best for you and your community.

Arizona Office of Tourism: Responsible Recreation in AZ
https://tourism.az.gov/responsible-recreation-across-arizona

Please do not observe indoor houseplants or pets.
For your own safety and the protection of plants and wildlife, do not trespass when making observations. Please follow all posted rules and guidelines in parks/preserves and do not enter private property.
Do not remove or move natural materials (plants, animals, rocks).
Respect wildlife (do not touch, feed, or disturb animals and keep a safe distance).

Ingresado el 31 de diciembre de 2020 por jenydavis jenydavis | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario