Garden News Blog

Forest Plots in Parc des Grandes Fougère

We had an excellent field day in Parc des Grandes Fougères with a team of botanists from IRD. The park was established in 2008 adjacent to (and accessed via) Réserve Spéciale de Faune du Col d’Amieu and its name means park of large ferns. We worked mostly in previously surveyed plots established within the park’s forests by IRD. Within the plots, all of the woody plants with trunks above a certain diameter are tagged and recorded.

Young fern leaves are called fiddleheads and several brown fiddleheads are shown in this picture among the stalks (botanically = stipes) of mature fern fronds.”

Our US team and Austrian graduate student, Barbara Turner, helped IRD locate specific trees within their plots in order to verify questionable identifications that had been recorded earlier. We also located Anacardiaceae trees so that Jérôme Munzinger could collect samples of them for our project. It was a very successful day in which we collected another three Anacards (and Barbara collected several samples for her project).

The most exciting collection of the day was our first fertile New Caledonian Anacard: Euroschinus elegans. This is the first fertile Euroschinus we have ever collected or even seen alive, and the fruits were beautiful (okay, maybe only to the eyes of Anacardiaceae enthusiasts)!

I do quite a lot of tropical fieldwork and often travel to exotic places of interest to tourists. With this type of travel comes many, many offers for free field assistants from New Yorkers interested in escaping the long northeastern winter. This next photo should be a warning to those of you who make this offer thinking that you are signing up for a tropical vacation…

In addition to gear, her backpack carries lunch for four and a day’s supply of water for two. The orange bag in the front is my field press made by the Herbarium Supply Company – I have been using this type of soft field press for four years now and wouldn’t go into the field without one ever again. The long silver bag with the rainbow strap on Keren’s shoulder is the very fancy carrying bag that our friends Dave and Ely made for my homemade clipper poles. These poles are cut into three-foot sections and are also a must for my field expeditions because they fit into my luggage and can be extended up to ca. 30 feet. The binoculars are for spotting high fruits and flowers in trees and the occasional bird.

Susan Pell is the director of science at BBG, where she studies the evolutionary relationships of the cashew family. She holds a PhD in plant biology and teaches continuing education and training courses in genetics, angiosperm morphology, and systematics.


  • Uli Lorimer March 24, 2011

    I want to be a porter too!!!

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Image, top of page:
Tagged tree in an IRD plot (left). Apex of a tree fern trunk in Parc des Grandes Fougères (right). Photo by Susan Pell.
Anacardiaceae Euroschinus cf elegans JM6642_5
Euroschinus elegans (Anacardiaceae). Photo by Susan Pell.
Keren field botanist extraordinaire
Keren carrying all of the collecting equipment while I’m looking for Anacards in the dense forest. Photo by Susan Pell.