PaperCity Magazine

March 2020- Fort Worth

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similar institutions worldwide. "We will be the only botanic garden in the state — and even beyond Texas borders — with a powerful partnership of public gardens, education programs, and scientific research," Lipscomb says. The merger will be a boon for projects such as the seed lab and its critical work as more habitats are threatened. Rare seeds collected at the lab can be used to repopulate depleted native prairies and areas destroyed by natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires. "We're gathering as many seeds from rare plants as possible to create a genetic stockpile, a seed bank for future generations," Lipscomb says. Seeds are stored in the lab's refrigerators, but they won't last forever. "Some seeds last thousands of years; others only last a few days," he says. It's not certain how long seeds from Edelmann's bladderpod will survive a refrigerated state, but over the years, some will be germinated and new plants grown to keep the seed stock alive. To ensure the plant's genetic diversity, Botanists will continue to hunt for other bladderpods in the wild and extract seeds. Botanists are midway through a 10- year project using electron microscopes that will make the full collection easily searchable online, at molecular-level detail. "Once we digitize the collection, it turns into another tool," Lipscomb says. "You can start to look at overall movements and shifts in plants: Are they moving or disappearing because of climate change and urbanization? Are they flowering earlier because of warmer temperatures?" The answers to those questions and many others will help decide the fate of Texas' rarest plants, including Engelmann's bladderpod. A HAVEN FOR TEXAS GARDENERS S cientists around the globe use the BRIT collections for research and plant identification, but the BRIT is also an amazing resource for Texas gardeners, who can: • Identify an unknown plant in your yard. It's a free service, and you can mail in your plant or drop it by. • Take group tours, horticulture and gardening classes, yoga, storytelling for children, and field trips. • Visit the BRIT Library. The 100,000 books and journals focus on natural history and botany, including 4,000 children's books. In the appointment- only Rare Books Room, some 3,000 volumes cover the 18th and 19th centuries, the Golden Age of gardening. Others are from the 16th and 17th centuries, when early botanists and horticulturists detailed plant-hunting expeditions. • View 1,700 rare botanical prints. Prints in the collection, which date to the 1800s, were originally used as teaching tools and continue to be used as reference. The works are on display in public spaces and the appointment-only Rare Books Room. • Check out "The Perilous Adventures of Mark Dion." The New York conceptual artist spent two years retracing the steps of early Texas explorers — including ornithologist and artist John James Audubon and Central Park landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted — accompanied by botanists from the BRIT. Dion's photographs and specimens from the Gulf Coast, West Texas, and King Ranch are part of this exhibition running concurrently at the BRIT Library and Amon Carter Museum of American Art, through May 17. For more information, call 817.332.4441 email, or visit Tiana Franklin Rehman oversees plant collections. A 1549 edition of De Materia Medica Botanical specimens BRIT Herbarium The BRIT Library

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