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Arctic plants

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by SimonZ, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. SimonZ

    SimonZ Gardener

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    Hi, I've been watching the magnificent Private Life of Plants by David Attenborough, and was struck by some of the plants he shows in the Arctic, Wexplaining that their survival is largely due to their small size, being very close to the ground and as such less vulnerable to being blown over by the severe winds. A bit later he says tat it is the environmental conditions that "compel" the plants to grow low. This has me wondering - is it that the plants somehow "know" to exert their growth only so far in order to reap maximum environmental advantage and thus survive the harsh conditions, or is it purely that they have evolved to do this? I know essentially that it is the latter, but the use of the word "compel" made it seem as if the growth habits of those individual plants were affected by their environment, and that had the weather somehow grow less harsh they would have extended their growth in a single lifetime rather than through evolution. Most of the plants appeared to be Saxifrage-like flowers, and I can say with certainty that one was the Arctic poppy, Papaver radicatum.
     
  2. Mike Allen

    Mike Allen Gardener

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    Hi Simon. So you enjoy Davids programs too. Many of my friends, shudder at the mere mention of his name. This being related to his often mentioning evolution and in a scenceignoring Divine creation etc. With David's narratives, quite often he is simply working from a script, so perhaps his thoughts/ feelings might differ.

    Setting all that aside. How ignorant we all would be, without such programs.
    Simon please forgive me, but you tend to ask some scientific questions at times. No problems. However, have you a particular leaning towards science?

    In the meantime. You ask.
    is it that the plants somehow "know" to exert their growth only

    After all these tears, generation etc. Medical science is only just scrating the surface about us humans. DNA and Cell Genomes etc. Then to plants. Biblical reference mentions the tiny Mustard seed. Trust me. You need a microscope to see it. There you have it. Being one who has worked my way up from, bog standard gardener to that of a horticultural plant scientist and pathologist. Believe me. That tiny seed contains so so much yet undiscovered creative information.

    A plant being able to think, deduce??? Ok try a simple at home experiment. Go to the supermarket and buy some exotic fruit. Eat and enjoy the fruit. Now in your Greenhouse sow the stone pip or whatever. Wowee! a green shoot. Perhaps over a long period the shoot develops into a tiny tree, then in time perhaps some fruits may appear. Nothing like the real thing. Here you have your answer. However complicated creation might be. That seed, stone pip has it's own DNA and God given program.

    Examples. Mankind. Yes we can mate and reproduce with our own kind. Yes mankind does adapt to natural enviroment. Like the exotic fruit seed planted in the GH but. The seed or whatever cannot respond to local conditions. Just imagine. You have sown a chipped stone of an avocardo. Yes you will in time get a result. However. Did you or I understand that. The whole fruit has to be buried not just the stone.

    Yes climate and territory play a vast part in the health and welfare of plants. Many experiments can be carried out in your GH. In the animal kingdom. Rabbits etc can actually reindigest their unborn young if a hard winter is in the offing. This is part of the natural world.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
  3. NigelJ

    NigelJ Total Gardener

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    In the Arctic and mountains many plants are low growing and this is compelled by the environment. Due to the conditions the growing season is short and at low temperatures plants will only grow slowly any way. Nutrients can be scarce as well. The wind will prune any growth putting it's head above the parapet, this can be seen in coastal areas in the UK. You can also find a plant with a bit more shelter making more growth than the same species on the more exposed side of the same rock (microclimates are very important in harsh conditions). Plants tend to grow to the maximum extent conditions allow.
    There is also epigenetics were genes can be switched on or off by environmental conditions and then passed onto the next generation, cold hardiness is one case. A plant growing in cold winter conditions produces seedlings that can survive cold winters. If these are then grown on in milder conditions their off spring will struggle when planted alongside their grandparents.
     
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    • pete

      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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      Just like to add, from my point of view, there are plants that are adapted to only grow in cold conditions, which will not grow well or survive in warmer places, in much the same way a tropical plant cant stand a slight frost.
      I'm guessing these have evolved to suit certain climates.

      On the other hand there are some plants that are very adaptable and will tailor their growth to the conditions available.
      Others just cant compete in certain conditions, so although able to survive, they get pushed out by other species.

      When I'm at work I often look at the growth rings on a piece of timber, the really close grain stuff is usually the best, the ones that are grown slowly, often for reason of cooler temperatures, but that mainly applies to temperate growing species.
       
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      • NigelJ

        NigelJ Total Gardener

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        @pete you are quite right. Many Alpine plants struggle to grow in milder conditions, this why with climate change they are in danger of displacement by faster growing plants. They can only move so much further up the mountain before they run out of mountain.
         
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        • PaulB3

          PaulB3 Gardener

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          Agree entirely with Pete and Nigel J ; many high latitude (and altitude) plants will undoubtedly suffer as the planet warms .
          I have a Black Spruce (Picea mariana) ,originating from N.Canada and extreme N.USA , this tree only makes around 6" of growth per year . It makes no difference how much water , heat or light you give it (aspect also seems irrelevant) , it simply will NOT alter its growth habit .
          Totally adapted and evolved to a very brief growing season , how will trees of this kind adapt ?
          Speaking of low-growing species , lichens (though not strictly plants) apparently exist in the most extreme conditions of the Antarctic , living a precarious and wind swept life clinging on to bare rocks .
          I've read they share a symbiotic relationship with certain algae , which in turn dissolve the rock surface , thus releasing nutrients for the lichens .
          Evolution , not creation , is a marvellous thing .
           
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            Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
          • SimonZ

            SimonZ Gardener

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            [QUOTE=" So you enjoy Davids programs too.

            [/QUOTE]

            Absolutely. He has produced a body of work almost incomparable in its vastness, detail and combination of accessibility and intellectual quality. Although the style of the programmes are not always to my taste (I'm not as keen on some of the more recent series with short frames and obviously ultra-edited sequences, and have a soft spot for the 1970's Open University type nature films) its hard to think of anyone who has contributed more to the public understanding of wildlife, and who approaches the subjects with a compelling mixture of academic expertise and child-like wonder. Of course, at his level he can automatically count on working with the best producers, so the individual series and programmes are always going to be top quality in most other respects as well, and as a filmmaker myself I tend to see them as mini works of art as much as science documentaries.
             
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            • SimonZ

              SimonZ Gardener

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            • Mike Allen

              Mike Allen Gardener

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              Simon, many thanks for your reply. Yes David has certainly enlighten us to so much of the natural world. OK he at an early age was snapped up by the BBC, hence much of his work has been funded by the Beeb. As I mentioned, personal preferences and ideals play their part.

              I so often remark upon the 'supporting cast'. Especially the cameramen. I don't know, but I tend to think that for some viewers and followers, ethicle differences come into play. Meaning when say, David is working to a script, not simply some kind of casting or location editor but, someone whos basically puting words into his narrative. Anyway Simom. Continue to enjoy. Best wishes. Mike.
               
            • Clare G

              Clare G Super Gardener

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              Re: David Attenborough rather than arctic plants, I recommend to @SimonZ and others the 20-minute film he made last year for the Friends of Richmond Park, if you haven't already seen it. He lives nearby so it was very much a personal project, about the park and its role as a national nature reserve. Really excellent: Richmond Park Film
               
            • Flumpy

              Flumpy In with the bricks!

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              I love David Attenborough’s programmes, I’ve grown up with them, he’s such an intelegent man, I just wish the governments would wake up fast and do something about the plastic and the environment before it’s too late :sad:
               
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              • NigelJ

                NigelJ Total Gardener

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                They are a symbiotic relationship of a fungus and an algae and the Antarctic and high Alpine species are under threat from climate change as they grow so slowly and can be pushed out by mosses and faster growing lichens.
                 
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                • NigelJ

                  NigelJ Total Gardener

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                  @SimonZ "if the Arctic poppies for example, can be traced back to a common ancestor, as with human evolution, and a point in history when their predecessors became separated from plants from warmer climates."
                  Almost certainly using DNA "finger printing".
                   
                • SimonZ

                  SimonZ Gardener

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                  [QUOTE I recommend the 20-minute film he made last year for the Friends of Richmond Park,Richmond Park Film[/QUOTE]

                  Thank you for sharing this wonderful film, a thoroughly informative and yet affectionate portrait of a beautiful park! I've never been to Richmond Park, but shall certainly aim to get there now.

                  We have a pair of parakeets that visit this area from time to time, and I know of several in Manchester also.
                   

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