Blogs & Videos: Plants

Science at FMNH : Ep. 16 - Illinois 300 million years ago

300 million years ago Illinois was a swampy forest located near the equator.  Fossil charcoal from this and other areas can be used to study past extinction events and help us to understand the mass extinction event that is happening in our time.

Prairie Dock: Up Close and Personal

Prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), a member of the Sunflower family, is one of my favorite prairie plants.  We saw several at a recent, ECCo-led, volunteer stewardship workday at Beaubien Woods in the Calumet Region. The plant has huge (1-2 ft) leaves covered in rough hairs, as seen in this photo. The best part about prairie dock is its insanely deep root system which can reach depths of 14 ft or more below ground. This deep root system can penetrate the water table, allowing prairie dock to withstand long periods of drought. 

Science at FMNH : Ep. 1 - Early Land Plants

Liverworts, hornworts and mosses may not seem like much at first glance, but big things can come in small packages!  About 450 million years ago liverworts made the jump from water to land and completely altered the evolution of life on Earth.  They can be used to assess environmental pollution, and contain chemical compounds which show activity against certain cancer cell lines and HIV. 

A special issue of Phytotaxa dedicated to Bryophytes: The closest living relatives of early land plants

The compilation of the volume can be attributed to a community effort and the high quality of papers is the product of all those who participated as reviewers, contributors and editorial support. In preparing for the volume, it became evident that the study of liverworts, hornworts, and mosses remains strong and has a healthy future as evidenced by contributions from senior scientists, post-doctoral researchers and doctoral students. We include 13 scientific papers from 35 authors.