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All Rights Reserved
Postings are excerpts from the exhibition catalog edited by Carol Woodin

Friday, June 17, 2011

Losing Paradise? to Open at Kew

Shirley Sherwood Gallery
of Botanical Art
Photo courtesy
 of RBG Kew
After its debut at the Missouri Botanical Garden in October of 2009 and its subsequent tour around the United States in 2010, Losing Paradise? opens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK on Saturday June 25th, 2011 as part of a broader exhibition Plants in Peril at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art.  The exhibit runs thru Sunday, October 16th.  All 44 paintings from the Losing Paradise? travelling exhibition will be on display portraying threatened and endangered plants from North & South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Also running this summer (thru July 31st) at The New York Botanical Garden is the ASBA curated Green Currency, Plants in the Economy exhibition of botanical art.  For more information visit http://www.asbagreencurrency.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Losing Paradise? in Your Classroom



The latest issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom produced by the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies and distributed to school districts across the country is titled Botany & Art and their role in conservation and is based on ASBA's Losing Paradise? exhibition.

The magazine provides lesson plans that introduce students to plant conservation and take them through the process of creating their own botanical illustration. Students compare herbarium specimens, photographs, and artwork of six endangered plants all from Losing Paradise? Endangered Plants Here & Around the World.

Materials may be reproduced by teachers for use in the classroom and are available for download at http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/lesson_plans/botany/

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wollemi Pine, Watercolor by Beverly Allen, Australia

Wollemia nobilis

Listings: Critically Endangered, IUCN Red List; Endangered, Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

The Plant’s Story:

The distribution of fossil remains indicates Wollemia nobilis was once widespread in Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica, but it was thought to have been extinct for about 2 million years. Its discovery in 1994 by David Noble, a ranger with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in Australia, stunned the plant world. Found about 100 miles outside of Sydney in a deep narrow canyon in the rugged Wollemi National Park, its home is protected as Critical Habitat and is now off-limits to all but a few scientists and rangers. Wollemi National Park is part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area of Australia, a 2.5 million acre natural area known for its rare fauna and flora and included on the World Heritage list.

The Artist’s Story: Beverly Allen

The location of surviving trees in the wild is closely guarded, and access is extremely difficult and restricted to necessary scientific research. I contacted the Botanic Gardens Trust, which I knew had been involved in propagating the tree. Working with research scientists, I was given access to living plant materials at the Trust’s research facility at Mount Annan Botanic Garden. The graceful form of the leaves and branches and intricate pattern and detail have been a delight to paint.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cyprus Tulip, Watercolor by Gillian Barlow, UK

Tulipa cypria

Listing: Endangered, Red Data List of Cyprus

The Plant’s Story:

Many Cyprian plants are threatened by habitat loss, in part due to the impact of building and mass tourism around the coastal areas, as well as heavy grazing and fertilizer use on poor land. The lowlands host habitats of thickets, open scrubland, coastal dune ecosystems, marshes and two salt lakes, important for winter migrating birds. During the rainy season, wildflowers follow one another, beginning with scillas and narcissus, then cyclamen, anemones, lilies, and of course, the beautiful red Cyprus tulip. It is found at three locations on Cyprus, in the northern Akamas peninsula, near Mammari, and in the area bounded by Myrtou and Kormakitis-Panagra.

The Artist’s Story: Gillian Barlow

Visiting Cyprus with a holiday group, mostly of bird watchers, I met Dr. Yiannis Christophides, who was our expert botanist leader. On that first visit, he prepared so well, showed us so much, and was so passionately concerned with his native island’s botany and wildlife that I longed to return for a longer and more flower-focused visit. Since then I have done so several times. We have driven all over the island to search for special rarities some of which I sketch, beginning to paint the series of endemic and endangered plants of which this was the first subject.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ring Gentian, Pen and Ink by Bobbi Angell, US

Symbolanthus jasonii

Listing: Newly discovered, not yet listed. Using IUCN criteria it is critically endangered.

The Plant’s Story:

Symbolanthus jasonii, a member of the Gentian family, was collected for the first time during a recent expedition to the poorly-studied Cordillera del Condor on the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border. The plant is 10-feet tall sparsely distinct from other species in the region. This area of South America is dotted with neotropical montane microhabitats that are surrounded by large disturbed areas, so individual plant populations can be many miles apart. Many plants here are found in a very small area, so the odds of any given species being lost completely to habitat conversion is high.

The Artist’s Story: Bobbi Angell

I have drawn over 20 species and varieties of Symbolanthus, but most have been reconstructed from single pressed herbarium specimens. In contrast, the new species provided me with refreshingly complete material from which to prepare an illustration. I was able to dissect a pickled flower (a flower preserved in a liquid solution) to show the distinctive corona (the ‘ring’ that gives the genus its common name of Ring Gentian).

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Slipper Orchid, Watercolor by Angela Mirro, US

Phragmipedium kovachii

Listing: CITES Appendix I

The Plant’s Story:

The discovery of Phragmipedium kovachii set the botanical world alight and may be the most important orchid find in the past one hundred years. Its large size and brilliant color led many to wonder how it had remained so long secreted in the Peruvian jungle. Although reported to have been discovered in 2001 by a local farmer in northeastern Peru, it was brought to the public’s attention in mid-2002. In 2003, the Peruvian government, through its Department of Natural Resources authorized two established Peruvian plant nurseries to obtain five Phragmipdium kovachii from the wild for a captive breeding program.

The Artist’s Story: Angela Mirro

I first painted Phragmipediu kovachii in 2003. In May of that year, I traveled to Peru and joined a small group of Peruvians and Americans interested in seeing and studying the plant in its habitat. It was an experience I shall never forget! We embarked on a rough and treacherous trail. We were ill-prepared for what lay ahead. I decided to stay behind with a few other people. The others continued onward. A few days later, I was able to sketch and study one of the legally collected plants. Alfredo Manrique Sipan was kind enough to invite me to visit his nursery in Lima in late 2004, and there I started the painting exhibited here. I made many color studies and sketches from life, then completed the painting back in Brooklyn.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Slipper Orchid, Watercolor on Vellum by Carol Woodin, US


Paphiopedilum vietnamense

Listing: CITES Appendix I

The Plant’s Story:

For untold centuries in a remote area of northern Vietnam, this handsome slipper orchid graced a dramatic landscape of eroded crystalline cliffs and crevices. Undisturbed under a lush canopy of broad-leaved evergreen forest until its discovery in 1997, the attractive variegated plants were abundant in this setting, forming extensive colonies. Sadly the wild populations of this striking orchid were plundered within days of their discovery. Local people, dispatched by a commercial orchid company, collected mass quantities of this orchid and others for the horticultural trade. When CITES-listed plants, illegally imported into the country are seized by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors, they offer to repatriate them to the country of origin. When return of seized plants is not possible, they are sent to one of 62 participating institutions around the country in its Plant Rescue Center Program. The plants remain the property of the U.S. Government but the institutions are allowed to propogate them and the offspring become the property of that Center. The bittersweet result is that this slipper orchid has become plentiful and available everywhere people avidly grow orchids…but not in its natural habitat where only a sparse population can still be found. (Thomas Mirenda, Orchid Collection Specialist, Smithosonian Institution)

The Artist’s Story: Carol Woodin

Having specialized in orchids for almost 20 years, I’ve sought them out in habitats and greenhouses in North and South America. Studying orchids in the wild brings its special challenges, first and foremost is taking care not to damage the habitat and especially the plants. They are also difficult to find, and are often at a great distance from roads. Once found, enduring mosquitoes and black flies, muck, hot sun and rain are all part of the deal and over time I learned that the more drawing and painting done while out there, the better the results in the studio. Before Slipper Orchids of Vietnam was published in 2003, Dr. Phillip Cribb, one of its authors asked whether I might be able to paint Paphiopedilum vietnamense for the cover. That first painting was done from the scientific description and detailed digital photos. Painting plants from photos is very difficult. Over the ensuing years since the book’s publications, seed-grown plants have matured, so it was a great pleasure to finally paint this plant from life.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mortoniodendron, Pen, Brush, and Ink by Alice Tangerini, US

Mortoniodendron uxpanapense


Listing: Newly described, not yet listed. Using IUCN Red List criteria it is critically endangered.

The Plant’s Story:

Mortoniodendron uxpanapense was named for the place it was collected in the rainforest of Uxpana, in the state of Veracruz, Mexico along a steep rocky limestone drainage that seasonally becomes flooded. The genus Mortoniodendron represents a group of tropical trees of which only nine species had been described.

The Artist’s Story: Alice Tangerini (link to NPR interview)

My illustration of Mortoniodendron uxpanaense began as do many of my drawings here in the Botany Department of the National Museum of Natural History, with a request for a drawing to accompany the publication of a new species. I received the plant as a series of four herbarium specimens. The first step in my drawing process was to make photocopies of the herbarium specimens. By tracing the photocopies the plant can be rendered at natural size. After the finished pencil sketches were completed and arranged on the plate, the final drawing was inked with brush and pen.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lycaste, Watercolor by Angela Mirro, US

Lycaste macrophylla

Listing: CITES, Appendix II

The Plant’s Story:

Lycaste orchids grow on tree branches or rocky outcrops and are a genus of about 50 species found in mid-elevation forests from Mexico through Bolivia. This Lycaste macrophylla is found from Nicaragua to Bolivia. The major factors that threaten its numbers are agriculture, logging, fires and the collecting of plants from the wild for horticulture.

In Peru, where the artist found this plant, there is a push to increase tourism, leading to worries about its impact on local communities, and on cultural and natural treasures. Restrictions have been increased on visitors to the 125 square mile Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, a World Heritage Site that recently has seen 800,000 tourists a year. Hundreds of orchid species are found throughout the Sanctuary.

One of many private companies attempting to mediate the effects of visitorship and have a positive impact on natural, social and cultural environments is Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, part lodging, part sustainable ecotourism destination, and part conservation organization.

The Artist’s Store: Angela Mirro

The plant depicted in my painting was grown in the Orchid Trail at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, part of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. During my initial trip in 1997 I started sketching and painting studies of the orchids, to eventually return many times over the past twelve years. Lycast macrophylla interested me from the beginning and I finally completed the painting exhibited here in 2007.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tupa Rosada, Watercolor by Ann Fleming, US

Lobelia bridgesii

Listing: Vulnerable, IUCN Red List

The Plant’s Story:

Chile’s temperate rainforest, where Lobelia bridgesii grows, has been identified as one of the world’s key biodiversity hotspots by Conservation International, known as the “Chilean Winter Rainfall – Valdivian Forests”. In 1991, the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland initiated the International Conifer Conservation Program to inventory, research, and establish protected sites for the world’s conifers, with one of its focal points being the Chilean rainforest.

Rain forest trees of all kinds are being removed from the Valdivian forest for construction lumber and industrial and home fuel, both for domestic use and for export to countries as far-flung as Japan and North America. Plantations of non-native pine and eucalyptus trees are changing groundwater and soil composition, and affecting surrounding areas.

Lobelia bridgesii, called tupa rosada in Chile, is one of the giant lobelias, and it can be found in a tiny range of only about 6 miles. The Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, and the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, are collaborating on rainforest research and conservation efforts and have established in-captivity propagation programs.

The Artist’s Story: Ann Fleming

In July, 2007, anticipating a trip to Scotland to visit my mother, I learned from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s website that they have an extensive collection of very threatened plants from Chile. I contacted their conservation department and discussed my interest in finding a plant to illustrate for this exhibition. I was able to arrange a day at the Garden. Lobelia was prolific, growing up to 5’ tall in a walled garden. I was able to spend the entire day doing preliminary sketches of the plant and taking notes. Along with photographs that I took, I had all the necessary information to complete the illustration in Denver.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blue Latan Palm, Watercolor by Monika DeVries Gohlke, US

Latania loddegesii


Listing: Endangered, IUCN Redlist

The Plant’s Story

The Republic of Mauritius consists of two major islands, Mauritius and Rodrigues, as well as a number of smaller islets, surrounded by coral reefs. The Blue Latan Palm as well as other plants unique to these islands have been yielding their habitat to agriculture and development, and have also been affected by grazing goats and rabbits. Although it is very rare in its native environment, this palm tree is cultivated as an ornamental tree in gardens. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation works to conserve rare plants and animals and maintains an endangered plant propagation program.

The Artist’s Story: Monika DeVries Gohlke

This beautiful “latanier bleu” as it is called in Mauritius, is currently being cultivated as an ornamental in some of the gardens on the island. It was in one of these private gardens that I was privileged to observe the tree and paint the maturing fruit.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

As Seen Through Color

For an indepth discussion with Artists Jean Emmons and Heeyoung Kim about their use of color in painting their entries in the exhibit, read Losing Paradise? As Seen Through Color, an article by Carolyn Payzant.

Green Ixia, Watercolor on Vellum by Jean Emmons, US

Ixia viridiflora

Listing: Endangered, National Red List of South African Plants

The Plant’s Story

The Cape Floral Kingdom is a global biodiversity hotspot. The wine industry in South Africa is the world’s ninth largest, and nearly all of it takes place within this global hotspot. Over 100 vineyards have joined the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, a consortium with the Botanical Society of South Africa, Conservation International, and the Green Trust, setting aside lands for conservation purposes, removing non-native vegetation, and implementing sustainable practices in grape cultivation. South Africa has created teams of mostly volunteers who have gone through training to learn how to identify at-risk plants and habitats, called CREW teams (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers). CREW teams have found several notable species on the property of Theuniskraal Vineyard including this beautiful Ixia viridflora. A portion of the property Tulbagh Alluvium Fynbos, is considered a critically endangered habitat.

The Artist’s Story: Jean Emmons

Brooklyn Botanic Garden grew plants of Ixia viridiflora from seed for their Warm Temperate Pavilion, one of the most diverse collections of Cape flora in the United States. Cut flowers and a small plant were mailed to me in order to create a previous painting for the Brooklyn Garden Florilegium Project. I was so taken with the turquoise color of the Ixia, I wanted to try another painting of it. My technique involves starting with multiple layers of pale washes in many different colors. Slowly, I work dryer and dryer and finish with very tight drybrush using the local color of the plant.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.  This artwork is on the cover of the Losing Paradise? exhibit catalog.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Moss, Watercolor by Maria Alice De Rezende, Brazil

Itatiella ulei

Listing: Critically Endangered, List of Endangered Flora of the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

The Plant’s Story

Mosses are notoriously difficult to identify due to their small size and remarkable diversity. Tropical Atlantic rainforests of Brazil are havens that nurture a richness of mosses. Atlantic rainforests cover just a small portion of the area of Amazonian rainforest, but their biodiversity is just as great. In addition to moss diversity, the entire flora of the region is rich, with over half of its tree species found nowhere else. New York Botanical Garden researchers counted over 450 species of trees in less than 3 acres!

The Artist’s Story: Maria Alice De Rezende

The idea of making a watercolor painting of this endangered moss arose when I was working with the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden illustrating “Endemic and Threatened Species from Itatiaia National Park”. These mosses are so small it is difficult for people to see what they look like. We decided a painting of an enlarged plant would allow people to be able to see how beautiful they can be, and maybe provide an increased understanding of the importance of preserving them in nature.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Iris, Watercolor by John Pastoriza-Pinol, Australia

Iris winogradowii

Listing: Red Data Book, Republic of Georgia

The Plant’s Story

The Republic of Georgia is one of six nations considered part of the Caucasus biodiversity hotspot, which encompasses the isthmus between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea and nearby areas. The former Soviet Union was largely isolated from the rest of the world for many years, and this isolation was also botanical. Although people around the world can now visit its alpine meadows and high mountain oak forests, development pressures have accelerated, with natural resource extraction proceeding at a rapid pace. Political and economic upheaval have contributed to this acceleration, and poaching of wildlife, fuel wood, timber, and plants have increased significantly. Infrastructure development, such as roads, dams and pipelines have fragmented and degraded habitats. In the wild this iris is found in the area of Mt. Lomtismta, now a reserve, and it was once found in Abkhazia as well. Iris winogradowii has a number of unique features for an iris; it has a bulb rather than a rhizome, its leaves are triangular in cross-section, and it dies back completely by mid-summer. The Karamov Botanical Institute published a massive 30-volume Flora of the USSR during the mid twentieth century.

The Artist’s Story: John Pastoriza-Pinol

The purpose of my art is to capture the unique features of plants and to engender appreciation for contemporary botanical art and accurate realism. My academic background as a botanist influences the plants I choose, as well as my compositions and painting style, and I enjoy searching out rare and unusual plants.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Negev Iris, Watercolor by Irene Blecher, Israel

Iris mariae

Listing: Endangered, Red Data Book, Israel

The Plant’s Story

Irises of the section Oncocyclus grow throughout the Middle East and are distinguished by conspicuously large, mostly dark flowers on separate stems. Ten species of this section have been recorded in Israel and adjacent countries. All are found in a very small range. These flowers are a focal point for nature lovers during the flowering season and are a symbol for nature conservation in Israel and Jordan. All eight Israeli species of Oncocyclus irises are endangered plants. Negev iris is one of the most threatened species of this group. This beautiful plant has suffered in recent decades mainly from disturbance of its habitat by new construction, intensive agriculture and grazing. Research is currently being conducted by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in collaboration with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The project includes rescuing rhizomes of some endangered iris species from threatened habitats, propagation in captivity, and relocation for the creation of new populations in protected areas.

The Artist’s Story: Irene Blecher

In the last two years I prepared illustrations of a few rare Irises. Employed as a researcher by the Dead Sea Institute, I am participating in several conservation projects. My time is divided between botanical painting and doing ecological research.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Marsh Gentian, Watercolor by Gillian Barlow, UK

Gentiana pneumonanthe


Listing: Protected Status, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

The Plant’s Story

Marsh gentian is being studied all over northern Europe, mainly because of its fascinating relationship with the rare Alcon blue butterfly. Adult Alcon blues lay their eggs on the outside of marsh gentian flowers, and when the larvae hatch, they emerge inside, where they begin to feed on the flower. After molting 3 times, these caterpillars chew through to the outside of the flower, then lower themselves to the ground on a “silken thread”. The caterpillar awaits the arrival of a Myrmica ant, which adopts it and carries it back to the ant’s nest. There it is fed by the ant colony through the fall and winter, growing quite large. In spring it forms a chrysalis, then emerges and exits the colony as quickly as it can to avoid being killed by the ants. Encroaching tree cover is one of the reasons for the marsh gentian’s shrinking range. Their largest threat however, is the modernization of agricultural practices.

The Artist’s Story: Gillian Barlow

Since we both live nearby, I became close friends with a botanical artist and a volunteer warden of Tadnoll Heath, which is close to Winfrith Heath. This area, though small is very richly varied and contains a multitude of plants. In late summer the brilliant blue flowers look spectacular with the orange yellow of bog asphodel and the crimson haired sundews that thrive in the same damp conditions, all together making a glorious mosaic of colors. I spent many happy hours walking on the heath, hunting for plants.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Heath, Watercolor by Jennifer Johnston Davidson, South Africa

Erica verticillata

Listing: Extinct in the Wild, National Red List of South African Plants

The Plant’s Story

Erica verticillata can be seen as representing one of the worst “paradise lost” scenarios – the extinction of a species and severe loss of its natural habitat. But it is also a story of great hope, where a species extinct in the wild is saved by a few plants preserved in botanical garden collections. It is now being reintroduced into small isolated remnants of its natural habitat, where it is producing viable seed. Erica verticillata is being saved by collaboration between dedicated horticulturists, botanists, conservationists, volunteers, civic and corporate entities in Cape Town and supported by colleagues in South Africa and round the world. However, its habitat continues to be threatened and its future, and that of other Acid Sand Plain Fynbos plants is still tenuous.

The Artist’s Story: Jennifer Johnston Davidson

I was speaking to a horticulturist at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden when she suggested I paint Erica verticillata. The next thing I knew, thanks to Anthony Hitchcock Nursery, Plant Collections and Cape Millennium Seed Bank Manager, I had a permit in my hand and a couple of horticulturists were taking me around Kirstenbosch Gardens collecting the different forms of Erica verticillata. I had read Anthony’s article in Veld & Flora, the Botanical Society of South Africa Magazine, “Restoration Conservation at Kirstenbosch” earlier and found the whole story quite amazing. I was committed from the start even though I quivered at the prospect of recording all those little leaves! Because of the help I received, I had the luxury of working from live plant materials, depicting five of the different forms discovered and those used in the breeding program.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Golden Barrel Cactus, Oil on Paper by Ingrid Finnan, US

Echinocactus grusonii

Listing: Critically Endangered, IUCN Red List

The Plant’s Story

Mexico is “diversity central” for cacti, a family native only to the Americas. Over 650 species of the world’s 1500 cacti make their home in Mexico. Golden barrel cactus is one of the many cacti found in only a very small area, in this case one of about 15 square miles. Growing on volcanic slopes at about 3500’ in elevation, it is estimated only 250 golden barrels remain in the wild. Its range was reduced in the early 1990s by construction of a dam flooding the Mactezuma Valley. El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden, Guanajuato, Mexico engaged in a rushed rescue effort to save the golden barrels and other rarer plants from the valley, incorporating them into their conservation-focused collection. Although development and grazing are the greatest threats to endangered cacti, there still remains a thriving market among cactophiles for illegally collected plants, which affects the already reduced populations.

The Artist’s Story: Ingrid Finnan

Over the years I have made numerous visits to the Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, where the perfectly round form of the Golden Barrel Cactus has fascinated me. But how to make a round cactus suitably fit the rectangular format was the question. My solution was to flank the primary cactus with two others painted in more subtle manner, hoping to suggest that the species is vanishing. I begin by sketching a plant that has caught my imagination. On my sketch I make detailed notes of the dimensions and the colors of the plant and take numerous photos with a composition in mind. In my studio, I prepare a detailed drawing and transfer it to a sheet of watercolor paper. I quickly paint the whole image in thinned oils, laying in the lights and darks and capturing the colors as closely as possible. Then comes the time consuming process of refining the work, blending colors, adding textural effects, and fine details.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bowl Flower, Watercolor by Jee-Yeon Koo, South Korea

Cypripedium japonicum

Listing: CITES Appendix II

The Plant’s Story

Cypripedium japonicum is known in Korea as Kwangreung Yogang Flower, so named because the shape of the flower resembles a bowl. It has always been rare in cultivation outside of Asia. On the brink of extinction in Korea, only about 200 individuals remain in the wild. The Korean government is actively seeking to safeguard Cypripedium japonicum and several mountains and villages have been designated as protected habitats. Numbers of this orchid in China and Japan are greater, but they are all protected by CITES Appendix II. China is the center for Cypripedium diversity, being home to two-thirds of the world’s Cypripedium species, with a further centralization in Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, areas experiencing rapid habitat change.

The Artist’s Story: Jee-Yeon Koo

I’ve been a fine artist and teacher in Korea for many years, specializing in flowers in the eastern style of painting, using traditional materials and techniques. As principal art director for the national project for illustrating rare and endangered Korean plants sponsored by the Korea National Arboretum, I have painted many rare Korean plants. I was interested in Cypripedium japonicum because it is the most important endangered plant in Korea. My technique consists of many layers of dry brush watercolors.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Longolongo, Gouache by Rita Parkinson, Australia

Cycas seemannii

Listing: CITES Appendix II

The Plant’s Story

Cycads are found throughout tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world and can thrive in harsh conditions, from high elevations, windy and cold paramo in South America to beach dunes and island limestone terraces, as with this Cyas seemanni, in the South Pacific islands. Of the 300 or so species found around the world, about half are considered at risk. In North America, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida, maintains a large collection of cycads for research, exhibition, and conservation, linked with conservationists and institutions around the world.

The Artist’s Story: Rita Parkinson

Fiji has been a holiday destination for my family for more than 20 years. I saw the Cycas seemannii of my illustration in a coastal area near Sigatoka on Viti Levu Island. The flora is diverse and what interests me is that much of it has not been illustrated in detail before. I will first and foremost do detailed drawings, and make a photo essay that includes habitat, close ups, details and mid-views. Then, I will begin the process with many roughs using all these sources as reference.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Begonia, Watercolor by Lizzie Sanders, UK

Begonia samhaensis

Listing: Endangered, IUCN Red List

The Plant’s Story

The isolated archipelago of Socotra lies in the Indian Ocean about 200 miles southeast of mainland Yemen. There are four islands in the group, Socotra, by far the largest, Abd al Kuri, Samha, and Darsa, surrounded by coral reefs profuse in marine diversity. Its tropical flora is one of the richest and best preserved in the world, with over 850 flowering plant species, of which some 300 are found nowhere else. At low altitudes its strange, otherworldly landscape is dominated by stem succulents along with dense woodlands. At higher altitudes, micro-niches among its jagged peaks support species such as Begonia, thriving in crevices, sustained by moisture from monsoon mists. In 2008 the archipelago was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and about 75% of its lands are in national parks and sanctuaries under protection of the Yemeni Conservation and Development Authority. Begonia samhaensis is found only in the northwest part of Samha’s high plateau, on sheltered vertical limestone cliffs above 2,000’ in elevation. Known from only 3 locations, its total population is estimated at fewer than 1000 plants.

The Artist’s Story: Lizzie Sanders

I first became interested in plants from Socotra some 10 years ago. I was taking classes at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and as a result met Dr. Tony Miller and his assistant Mark Hughes, who at that time were involved in a conservation program for the sustainable development of Socotra. The Paintings I made at that time included Begonia socotrana and the newly described Begonia samhaensis. My painting, the first ever of this plant, is now in the RBGE collection. Fast forward to 2008 and Losing Paradise? I had first thought of painting an endangered Scottish plant, but these proved elusive and generally inaccessible. Talking to botanists at RBGE, where I am now teaching, the flora of Socotra was suggested. Begonia samhaensis is one of RBGE’s ‘star’ introductions and together with the other flora of Socotra is under considerable threat.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Atamasco Lily, Gouache & Colored Pencil by Julie Martinez, US

Zephyranthes atamasca

Listings: Endangered, Maryland; Threatened, Florida

The Plant’s Story

Atamasco lily was one of the first North American flowers encountered by the colonists of Jamestown. At the edges of its historic range, it is at risk, although in some states it is quite common. Atamasco lilies enjoy a habitat of moisture-prone regions bordering wetlands, the edges of flat forestlands, and moist meadows. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Bulbs in the amaryllis family, as this lily was originally described by Linnaeus in 1753, contain chemical compounds being studied for their promising anti-cancer properties.

The Artist’s Story: Julie Martinez

During the winter, my husband and I live in the midst of the Ocala National Forest in central Florida. One morning I noticed occasional clumps of delicate white flowers along the roadside. After identifying them in our guidebooks, I learned they were a threatened species in Florida. I wanted to capture them in a painting and immediately started working on not only painting the flower but all aspects of the plant including the bulb, bud, pollen, seedpod and seeds.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Painted Trillium, Mixed Media by Anne Marie Carney, US

Trillium undulatum

Listings: Endangered, Michigan, Ohio; Threatened, Kentucky

The Plant’s Story

Painted trillium is a rare and delicate spring woodland wildflower. Its range extends from eastern Canada southward through the Smoky Mountains. They like cool, moist, acidic woodlands. The most well-known trillium, Trillium grandiflorum, is a sure sign of spring, and can often be seen carpeting moist deciduous florest floors both on hillsides and in lowlands in large numbers. The painted trillium is more secretive, seen near the base of large deciduous trees or tucked into rock-strewn nooks.

The Artist’s Story: Anne Marie Carney

Growing up in Ontario, Canada there was an abundance of Trillium grandiflorum and Trillium erectum. However, I never saw the elusive Trillium undulatum. Finding an informative website called Asheville Natural, I called Fiona Dudley its creator. The website is a guide to native wildflowers and other aspects of the natural world in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Fiona helped me to find all the trilliums along a hiking trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Asheville, NC. In the studio, after an indepth rendering in graphite pencil on watercolor paper, I used fine pen and ink pens and colored pencil to complete the piece.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fuzzywuzzy Airplant, Colored Pencil by Karen Coleman, US

Tillandsia pruinosa

Listing: Endangered, Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act

The Plant’s Story

This member of the pineapple family lives attached to branches of trees in hardwood swamps and cypress forests. Tillandsia pruinosa’s tentacle-like leaves emerge from a swollen, bulbous base and are covered with dense, silvery hairs; thus its common name, fuzzywuzzy airplant. In the United States, its range is limited to Lee and Collier Counties in Big Cypress National Preserve and nearby areas. The “river of grass” of the southeastern Everglades gradually gives way to rising elevations, which support the cypress swamps, hammocks, mangroves, and prairie habitats of Big Cypress. Nourishing a variety of unique plant and animal life, the diminutive Tillandsia pruinosa’s existence depends on the continued protection of these special areas. In spite of the great size of the preserve, non-native species penetrate its deepest coves. Its most recent intruder is a Mexican weevil whose larvae tunnel through the base of bromeliads decimating bromeliad populations.

The Artist’s Story: Karen Coleman

In January 2006, my husband and I joined a group from the Audubon Naturalist Society on a nature trip to the Florida Everglades. I was intrigued by the name and description of the fuzzwuzzy airplant. I fell in love with the fuzzywuzzy. I made a quick sketch and took lots of photos in order to do a finished work when I returned home. I completed the piece in colored pencil in 2008.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lakeside Daisy, Watercolor by Dianne McElwain, US

Tetraneuris herbacea

Listings: Threatened, Federal Endangered Species Act; Endangered, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan; Threatened, Ontario, Canada

The Plant’s Story

Historically found in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, it is now estimated about 95% of the world’s remaining population of lakeside daisy makes its home in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada. It favors limestone areas with good drainage that dry out quickly, called “alvar” communities. The lakeside daisy has been affected mainly by quarrying, but also by other forms of development, human foot traffic, and foraging by animals. In Ohio, the property containing what was believed to be the last naturally occurring US population of the daisy was purchased in 1989. These 19 acres in the middle of active quarry lands form the Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve. Golden daisies carpet its open sunny landscape in May.

The Artist’s Story: Dianne McElwain

I found this particular group of lakeside daisies at the Ohio Governor’s Garden in Columbus, Ohio. I arrived at the Governor’s Garden in late April, 2008, just when the daisies were beginning to bud. When I returned in May, I found the flowers all dropped to the ground and the stems twisted, because they follow the movement of the sun. They were very artistic looking and that’s when I decided to paint the entire plant in its habitat. First I did very detailed drawings from life of the flowers and leaves. Then I did color studies of the flowers. The final painting is done in watercolor.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stenogyne, Colored Pencil by Wendy Hollender, US

Stenogyne kauaulaensis

Listing: Newly described, not yet listed, Using IUCN criteria it is critically endangered.

The Plant’s Story

Recently a new species of Hawaiian mint in the endemic genus, Stenogyne was found within the steep, rugged mountains of West Maui, Hawaii. This extremely rare species is known from only 15 naturally occurring individuals and easily falls into the IUCN Critically Endangered (CR) Red List category which designates it as facing the highest risk of extinction in the wild. - Courtesy of Ken Wood, Field Researcher and Conservation Biologist, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii.

The Artist’s Story: Wendy Hollender

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work on endangered and newly discovered plants at the same time. This drawing started in the field using colored pencils on hot pressed watercolor paper. The beauty of working with colored pencils is that the materials needed are simple and few. With colored pencils, there is virtually no set-up or clean-up, no time spent preparing a palette and mixing colors, no time waiting for colors to dry. With a small case of no more than twenty or so pencils, a small plastic ruler, an eraser, a battery-operated pencil sharpener, magnifying glass, and spiral pad of paper – all of which easily fit into a small backpack, I go anywhere in the world and create detailed colorful botanical drawings!

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Royal Catchfly, Watercolor by Heeyoung Kim, US

Silene regia

Listings: Possibly Extirpated, Tennessee; Endangered, Illinois, Kentucky

The Plant's Story
America’s Midwestern prairie has steadily declined during the last two hundred years, and now only fragments of the once expansive ecosystem remain. Some of North America’s most endangered plants and animals are prairie and grassland species. One of these is the royal catchfly, so named because it literally catches insects in the sticky base of the flower. Although appearing throughout the Midwest, its numbers are declining due to habitat alterations, picking and digging. Missouri is the only state with substantial populations remaining.

The Artist’s Story: Heeyoung Kim

I was introduced to this beautiful, rare species in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Dixon Prairie in August 2007. My eyes were drawn to the red royal catchfly among hundreds of wildflowers dancing in the prairie garden. I did detailed pencil sketches and took notes about subtle changes as time passed. Since I live very close to the Garden I often go there with my sketchbook and camera. Based on my sketches I could compose the whole life cycle of the plant from buds to fruits.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yellow Pitcher Plant, Watercolor by Joan Geyer, US

Sarracenia flava

Listings: CITES Appendix II; Extremely Rare, Division of Natural Heritage, Virginia

The Plant’s Story

Pitcher plants are carnivorous, luring insects into their hollow tubes (leaves) with nectar and fragrance, leading them to drown in the liquid in the tube. Insects, once trapped, are digested by enzymes and bacteria. Since the plants grow in areas with few nutrients in the soil, it is important to their survival to digest bugs! This yellow pitcher plant can be found throughout the southeast in bogs and other acidic wetlands. Threats are mainly due to over-collecting for the horticultural trade and to hydrological alterations for agriculture, urban development, and roads. The State of Virginia’s Department of Transportation seeks out appropriate habitat along roadways to serve as homes to rare plant communities. Once suitable habitat areas are found a group of endangered wetland plants, including yellow pitcher plants are introduced to recreate the bog plant community. This project established 500 yellow pitcher plants grown from seed by the Meadowview Biological Research Station in Woodford, Virginia.

The Artist’s Story: Joan Geyer

Milledgeville, once Georgia’s capitol, sits in the center of the state. One of its attractions is the Lockerly Arboretum. One April day the head gardener led me across a small bridge to an island in the middle of a large pond. Here, at the sunny shoreline, masses of bright yellow blooms rose above amazing foliage – my first encounter with the Golden Trumpet! I have returned to the tiny island many times to study this fascinating species.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bog Asphodel, Watercolor by Robin A. Jess, US

Narthecium americanum

Listing: Endangered, New Jersey, North Carolina (believed extirpated in NC)

The Plant’s Story

Bog asphodel is an endangered lily that grows about a foot high. Its habitat is very limited and specific. It prefers the edge of slow-moving water that may cover the base of the plant intermittently. Extended periods of flooding or drought caused by disruptions in hydrology due to development are its main threat, although water patterns are also compromised by beaver dams and cranberry cultivation.

The Artist’s Story: Robin A. Jess

I have been interested in flora of the New Jersey Pine Barrens for over 30 years and in the early 1990s, I produced a series of 40 paintings of Pine Barrens plants. I first saw bog asphodel at Webb’s Mill Bog in the Pine Barrens. One hot July day, I saw shimmering in the heat rays across the bog, a small but bright mass of yellow. I found a few plants nearer to me, allowing closer observation. I photographed the plant and made some color notes. Between my sketches, slides and several visits to the New York Botanical Garden herbarium, where I studied pressed specimens, I produced this painting.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Glade Mallow, Watercolor & Graphite by George Olson, US

Napaea dioica

Listing: Threatened, Minnesota

The Plant’s Story

This inhabitant of the tallgrass prairie and meadows along streams and rivers is included in the National Collection of Endangered Plants. Often found growing along railroad tracks, plants can occasionally reach 9’ in height when in flower. Its range, being ideal for farming, has been widely converted to cropland. Flood control projects and increasing shade are added challenges.

The Artist’s Story: George Olson

When I started to concentrate on prairie plants and grasses in the 1980s, I was living in northern Ohio. I discovered a restored prairie in Stark County surrounded by prosperous Amish farms. This prairie was small but it was well stocked with coneflowers, grasses, blazing stars, and silphiums, and in a moist creek bottom, a vigorous collection of glade mallows. As I became better acquainted with glade mallow as a subject, I was anxious to learn more about its history and ecology. I was fortunate to meet some of the scholars who had included it in their research. The first of these was Joseph Ewan, an eminent and widely published scholar at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Our first meeting led to an opportunity to serve as artist-in-residence at the Garden in 1992 as a prairie artist. Working in the library, the garden and at the Shaw Nature Reserve was a real pleasure.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wood Lily, Watercolor by Carol E. Hamilton, US

Lilium philadelphicum var. philadelphicum pterourus glaucus

Listings: Endangered, Extirpated, Maryland; Endangered, Tennessee

The Plant’s Story

There are two varieties of the North American wood lily, one of more western distribution and one of more eastern and northern distribution. The western variety, Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum is fairly common, however populations of the eastern variety have fallen, leading to its listing as endangered in two states, and threatened in several others. Wood lilies are usually found in meadows or along edges of forests. Their decrease has occurred in tandem with the increase in white-tailed deer and human populations, the former grazing on them, the latter picking them or digging them up, and converting their habitat to housing and other developments. Some tribes of Native Americans used the wood lily for food, eating the bulbs as potatoes are eaten today. The University of Michigan maintains an on-line database of Native American Ethnobotany which was begun in the 1970s.

The Artist’s Story: Carol E. Hamilton

The structure and color of the wood lily are outstanding and it is little wonder that it attracts both pollinators and predators. Only after I have sufficient understanding of the species, can I accurately depict my subjects. I take photographs and make sketches while studying a plant in the field. I wanted to share the flower’s vibrant color and graceful shape, and to draw the viewer into the painting by following the flight of the butterflies into the lilies. The challenge is to put the knowledge of the plant and the glory of its beauty on paper for the viewer.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hawaii Tree Cotton, Pen and Ink by Lesley Randall, US

Kokia drynarioides

Listing: Endangered, Federal Endangered Species Act

The Plant’s Story

Kokia drynarioides is a beautiful tree with large red flowers, found only on the island of Hawaii. It is nearly extinct in the wild, formerly occurring in dry forests on lava fields in the North Kona District. Its population declined through the last century primarily due to cattle and goats browsing on the mature trees and grazing any seedlings that managed to sprout. Kokia seeds are eaten by roof rats that arrived in the 1800s with the ability to climb trees. By the 1980s introduced fountaingrass began to cover the formerly bare lava fields, inhibiting regeneration of the Kokia and other native plants and increasing the frequency and intensity of wildfires. Hawaii has been severely affected by invasive aliens. The National Tropical Botanical Garden, the Hawaii Forest Industry Association, and the Nahelehele Dryland Forest Working Group have made progress in outplanting and fostering K. drynarioides at the Ka’upulehu Preserve in North Kona.

The Artist’s Story: Lesley Randall

The pen and ink technique I use is the traditional form for scientific botanical illustration. Pen and ink allows one to show very fine details that aid in describing a species or in identifying one. Accuracy is of prime importance, but I try to create a piece of beauty as well. I use both the stipple and cross-hatch styles for shading. Once I have completed my pencil sketches, I transfer the drawing to illustration board using tracing paper. First I draw all the outlines in ink, then detail each piece of the drawing.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Small Whorled Pagonia, Watercolor by Beverly Simone, US

Isotria medeoloides

Listings: Threatened, Federal Endangered Species Act; Endangered in 17 States; Endangered, Canada

The Plant’s Story

Although widely distributed in the eastern US, the small whorled pagonia is considered imperiled throughout its range and has disappeared from several states where it historically occurred. Since its colonies tend to be small, an entire site can be lost with the construction of one rural home. In addition to residential and commercial development, some logging practices, and off-road vehicle damage are its main threats. Ranging from Canada south to Georgia, about 80% of Isotria medeoloides’s population occurs in New Hampshire and Maine. There has been no sign of it in recent history in New York, Maryland, Missouri, and Vermont. Thanks to federal and other funding sources, considerable information has been gathered on the status and life history of the small whorled pagonia by groups such as the New England Wild Flower Society. Volunteers collect data and monitor rare plants in the field, remove invasive species, perform plant surveys, and work to raise awareness of rare plants.

The Artist’s Story: Beverly Simone

David VanLuven, Hudson River Estuary Landscape Director of The Nature Conservancy was kind enough to put me in touch with Sara Cairns, Ph.D. Sara, Data Manager and Biologist for the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau in Concord.  She has done extensive research on Isotria medeoloides, and not only generously shared her knowledge and photos, but graciously answered my many questions. With her help, I was able to bring my small whorled pagonia painting “alive”.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Louisiana Quillwort, Watercolor by Lee McCaffree, US

Isoetes louisianensis
Listing: Endangered, Federal Endangered Species Act

The Plant’s Story

Quillworts are considered to be descendents of very ancient plants. They are aquatic plants that reproduce by spores located at the base of the leaves. Louisiana quillwort’s habitat is sand and gravel bars along backwater stream banks in woodlands in a few sites in Louisiana and Mississippi. Threats to their survival are many, but they all result in altered stream quality and dynamics. Feral hogs, beaver dams, timber harvests, sand and gravel mining, off road vehicles, roads, and stream dredging and channeling are the culprits. The plant was federally listed as endangered in 1996.

The Artist’s Story: Lee McCaffree

I became a volunteer at Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Houston and worked with native plants. Meanwhile I had started to create a series of threatened and endangered plant paintings for an exhibit at the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK. I went to several sites in the wild to photograph and sketch. I painted at Mercer during the time they were establishing the Endangered Species Garden, which has become an important showplace for many endangered and threatened plants. Mercer is the primary custodian of this plant for the Center for Plant Conservation. Mercer’s conservation program cultivated 70 quillworts rescued by the Louisiana Natural Heritage Office in 2002. They have been successfully propagated and now number over 600. When the series was complete, my “Plants in Peril” paintings helped promote the Endangered Species Garden.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goldenseal, Watercolor by Gillian Harris, US

Hydrastis canadensis
Listings: CITES Appendix II; Endangered, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersy, Vermont

The Plant’ Story

Once abundant in the forests of the eastern US, Goldenseal has long been collected for its medicinal properties and is still sold as an herbal remedy. As early as the 1880s, over-collecting and loss of woodland habitat led to some concern over the plant’s survival. It wasn’t until the 1990s that it began to be listed by some states as an endangered species. Pressures on plants collected for sale, such as mosses, ferns, ginseng and goldenseal are contributing to their dwindling numbers. Added to this, goldenseal’s forest habitat has been fragmented from development of all types.

The Artist’s Story: Gillian Harris

Goldenseal, native to my area of southern Indiana, grows readily in the woodland shade garden here, spreading via its yellow-orange rhizomes. I now have a small patch that has expanded from a single rescued plant I bought at an Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society sale. I chose to feature it in the fruiting stage, when its leaves are fully expanded and the habit is more evident. I also wanted to include the root, which is beautiful in its own right and possesses the alkaloids that have made this plant a widely-collected medicinal herb. I rinsed the soil from the root and took several photographs of it before replanting it in my garden.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hibiscus, Colored Pencil by Wendy Hollender, US

Hibiscadelphus distans, Hibiscus brackenridgei, H. kiokio ssp.saintjohnianus, H. clayi
Listings: Endangered, Federal Endangered Species Act, Hibiscus clayi, H. brackenridgei, and Hibiscadelphus distans; Species of concern, Federal Endangered species Act, Hibiscus kokio ssp. Saintjohnianus

The Plant’s Story

Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful native members of the cotton family (Malvaceae). The ones pictured here are also some of the most endangered. Hibiscus clayi, (lower left) one of Kauai’s rarest. H. brackenridgei, (upper right) is uncommon but found throughout the archipelago. H. kokio ssp. Saintjohnianus (lower right) is a beautiful yellowish orange rarity known only from a few locations in northwestern Kauai. Hibiscadelphus distans (upper left) is an endangered cousin with a tiny population in Kauai’s spectacular Waimea Canyon. All these rare native flowering shrubs are struggling in the wild, but thrive in the living collections of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. (courtesy of Dr. David Burney, Director of Conservation, Living Collections and Horticulture NTBG)

The Artist’s Story: Wendy Hollender

In February of 2008 I spent a month in Hawaii. While there I hoped to work on a series on endangered plants for consideration in this exhibition. I spent a week doing field sketches of these and other endangered plants and began these four drawings, which I completed back in New York.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Large Witch Alder, Watercolor by Rose Pellicano, US

Fothergilla major
Listing: Threatened, Tennessee, Georgia

The Plant’s Story

Fothergilla major is a rare shrub of the southern Appalachians, favoring well-drained acid soils in mountain woods. In the wild, although it has a pretty broad range, it is not common anywhere, being sparsely dispersed. Its bottlebrush-like flowers are composed of long yellow stamens with long filaments. Its fragrance and autumn color add to the visual interest of the spring flowers. Dr. Fothergill, physician, naturalist, and philanthropist, had a garden in Essex, England, in which he grew “a variety of most curious plants”, according to Linnaeus, who named this genus after him.

The Artist’s Story: Rose Pellicano

Although I had never seen Fothergilla major, in my research on endangered plants I found that a specimen grew at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I’ve been working with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for ten years, as one of the artists in its Florilegium project. Established in 2000, the Florilegium is a project to document Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s living collections through botanical art. Artists from around the country have contributed 175 artworks to the project.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

Links to other Florilegium projects: Chelsea Physic Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, Australia, Filoli, Woodside, CA and Highgrove Estate of HRH Prince of Wales

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ghost Orchid, Watercolor, Body Color on Vellum by Kelly Leahy Radding, US

Dendrophylax lindenii
Listing: Endangered, Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act

The Plant's Story

The ghost orchid of the Everglades seems hidden from sight when not in flower. It has no leaves and uses its roots to collect both water and sunlight. Its white flowers appear to float in the air, hence its nickname. The ghost orchid’s range includes humid areas of Florida and Cuba. Found in secluded groves of deep swamps, it is pollinated by the giant sphinx moth. This dependence on a specific pollinator and the pollinator’s dependence on a specific orchid in turn, leads to increased susceptibility to habitat alterations. The deep swamps of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge shelter the gohost orchid. Management of the Refuge is focused on providing suitable panther habitat, and that means restoration of its functional ecosystem and its native plant communities. Also located in Florida, the American Orchid Society is the world’s largest organization devoted to the huge family of orchids, estimated to contain more than 30,000 species.

The Artist’s Story: Kelly Leahy Radding

I wanted to portray this plant as otherworldly, or ‘ghostly’. I started it with a graphite under-drawing from which I could then develop the roots growing out of the gray of the graphite into full watercolor. The white body color, layered with watercolor for the colored portions, had the necessary opacity to give the illusion of the flower appearing out of the calfskin vellum background. I wanted the flower to have an ethereal quality; to appear as if it materialized from the background like a ‘ghost’.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.