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Biodiversity Blog

 

Shrubs of BFL: Catclaw Acacia

CatclawThis perennial shrub (Senegalia wrightii) grows 6-10 feet tall although some accounts say it can grow to triple this size. The lacey foliage is twice pinnately-compound and semi-evergreen. Pinnately-compound refers to a leaf that is divided into smaller leaflets and those leaflets are arranged along each side of the leaf's central stalk, or rachis....

Shrubs of BFL: American Beautyberry

Beautyberry 01 Ripe berries on Beautyberry (Photo: Nicole Elmer) Around this time of year, this shrub is difficult to miss. The normally inconspicuous green berries turn bright purple and become quite popular for wild bird and animal populations. This plant’s scientific name is Callicarpa americana, or better known as the Beautyberry or American Beautybe...

UT’s Non-Digital Biodiversity Specimens Join the Global Digital Revolution

mapThe prestigious journal BioScience just released "Natural History Collections: Advancing the Frontiers of Science," a compilation of recent natural history collection-related papers that sheds light on the importance of digitizing and publishing collections data, and the substantial obstacles confronting collections staff working on that. This come...

BACKYARD BIODIVERSITY: the Texas Live Oak

oaks2 One of the historic Battle Oaks on the UT campus. Describing a mature live oak as “stately” is a bit of an understatement. They can live several centuries and these older trees command quite a presence. Their trunks can grow 4 feet or more in diameter and their crowns can spread more than 100 feet, sometimes touching the ground in a sprawl...

Trees of BFL: Cottonwoods and Willows

Summary cottonwood  Cottonwood trees and willows are similar in many ways. They germinate through wind dispersion and colonize moist muddy areas exposed to full sun. Both are present in Brackenridge Field Lab, and the cottonwoods in particular have a close connection to the history of the field lab. COTTONWOODS Cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) are one of the ...

BACKYARD BIODIVERSITY: Dandelions

640px Taraxacum officinale 001   Photo: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.) Some make wishes while blowing their seeds into the wind. Others eat them or use them in medicine. And others frown when they see them popping up on their lawns. These are dandelions, probably a plant that just about everyone can identify,...

Trees of BFL: Spanish Oak

SpanishOak Photos: Larry Gilbert At Brackenridge Field Lab, the Spanish Oaks (Quercus buckleyi) is found mainly in the old pasture zone. This tree is sometimes also called “Texas red oak” or “Buckley’s oak.” The tree is native to Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It grows on average between 30 to 50 feet tall. The largest known species grows right here in...
Moth Threatens Prickly Pear Cactus

Moth Threatens Prickly Pear Cactus

   Moth damage to Prickly Pear (Photo: Larry Gilbert) Despite its iconic association with the Southwest, many people may not love Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia). However, various species of Opuntia are extremely important plants to most ecosystems in Texas and Mexico. They produce a huge quantity of fruits that are a critica...
The Trees of BFL: Pecans (Carya illinoiensis)

The Trees of BFL: Pecans (Carya illinoiensis)

   One of the burried pecans.  Pecan trees (Carya illinoiensis) generally live along river bottom forest, or in places with irrigation systems. You may even have one or two growing in your yard. At Brackenridge Field Lab, the pecans here have a unique relationship with the history of the field lab. In this article “The Dam that ...
One Plant of Thousands

One Plant of Thousands

 The Darwin specimen. (Click on image for larger view) International Darwin Day is observed on February 12, the day Charles Darwin was born. Darwin Day asks people to “reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin.” In 1831, when he was...

The Texas Eight: Love ‘Em, Hate ‘Em, or Drink ‘Em

Juniperus deppeana alligator juniperwebTexas has eight species of juniper native to the state. Some prevent slope erosion, some play havoc with allergies, and some go into a gin made by Integrative Biology professor, Dr. Molly Cummings. Dr. Cummings uses berries from two Texas junipers for two different gins made by WildGins Co., a gin company headquartered in Austin and run by Cummings...

Trees of BFL: Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)

BaldCypressby Nicole Elmer and George Yatskievych (Botanist, Curator: Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center) Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a deciduous conifer (cone bearing) in the family Cupressaceae. The genus consists of very distinctive trees. They can get very tall, growing up to 120 feet, with massive, lobed ...
Meet Amber Horning!

Meet Amber Horning!

  Amber Horning is our new Assistant Curator in the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center. Amber comes from the University of Mississippi, and took some time out of her busy day to tell us a little about herself. Tell us where you came from before UT, and what you studied. This past May, I received my Master’s of Science from the Universi...

Billie L. Turner Plant Resource Center Awarded Digitization Grant

47495452601 9886cd63b1 oThe National Science Foundation recently awarded the Billie L. Turner Plant Resource Center a new grant for approximately $817,000. The grant extends over four years to complete the digitization of more than 500,000 herbarium specimens collected in the states of Texas and Oklahoma and housed in the herbaria, as well as those of 10 partner instituti...

The Trees of BFL: Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata)

Screen Shot 2019 09 04 at 08.58.36    The sugar hackberry or sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) is a very common tree species at Brackenridge Field Lab. The tree has distinctive warty, gray bark, sometimes turning tan in very old individuals. The leaves have asymmetrical bases, are tapered with sharply pointed tips, and smooth or toothed margins. These trees grow quite ta...

CAMPUS BIODIVERSITY: Urban Orchids

Corallorhiza wisteriana patch  For the observant visitor to the UT-Austin campus, the 40 Acres sometimes reveal botanical treasures.  For example, not many local inhabitants are aware that the campus harbors native wild orchids. In recent weeks, the spring coral root orchids, Corallorhiza wisteriana have been experiencing an exceptionally good bloom.  Corallo...

Fall Colors at the Brackenridge Field Lab

BFL Flame Sumac Rhus lanceolata webFall is here in Central Texas, announcing its arrival through color. This time of seasonal change is a particularly vibrant time at Brackenridge Field Lab. Splashes of vivid yellow and red appear when Flame Sumac, Spanish Oak and Cedar Elm trees prepare to shed their leaves. But why do trees do this?  These new hues arise as trees begin breaki...

The History of UT's Herbaria

SpecimenThis article first appeared in the History Project for the Department of Integrative Biology on March 13, 2017    Lundell Herbarium 1964 specimen of Hibiscus lasiocarpus Cav. Few landmarks on the UT campus are as iconic as the Tower, visible to thousands daily as part of the Austin skyscape. Yet, not many people realize that eight...

A Springtime Visit to the Candelaria Ranch

Setting up a seine on a channel of Capote Creek RGby Dr. George Yatskievych (Botanist and Curator, Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center) and Dr. Dean Hendrickson (Curator of Ichthyology) The road to Candelaria, Texas is long and dusty, but well worth the drive. Candelaria is located on the Rio Grande in Presidio County. Rancho Pensado, headquartered in this tiny community, is noted for its swe...

Featured Species: Nolina nelsonii

Nolina nelsonii habit web   Nolina nelsonii growing at the corner of Inner Campus Dr. and Whitis Ave., the University of Texas at Austin by Dr. José Panero, Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center The gardens surrounding the BIO Building and the Teaching Greenhouse have several interesting plants donated in y...