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Titan arum timelapse videos

If you missed last week’s bloom — or would just like to see the whole thing — check out these videos:

View more timelapse videos or learn more about ‘Stinky Science’ on our YouTube channel.

Wolfe, Smart receive Academic Venture Fund awards from the Atkinson Center

David Wolfe and Larry Smart are among the recipients of $1.2 million from Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF)’s Academic Venture Fund. The program funded 11 new projects selected from 37 proposals.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe

“We make seed grants to multidisciplinary teams with exciting ideas that address sustainability problems and opportunities. The process is very competitive and usually brings together faculty who have not previously worked together,” says Frank DiSalvo, Atkinson Center director and the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science.

Wolfe is part of the Ecological Calendars for Climate Change project. A time-tested tool for climate adaptation—ecological calendars—helped generations of indigenous and rural societies anticipate seasonal patterns for farming, herding, hunting, and fishing. These calendars rely on natural cues, such as the arrival of birds and nascence of flowers. This transdisciplinary team will use ecological calendars to guide communities as they adapt to climate change. Working in partnership with Great Plains Native Americans and rural communities near Oneida Lake, the researchers will identify key climate vulnerabilities, document existing ecological calendars, and revitalize or develop new calendars for local use by combining folk knowledge with cutting-edge climate forecasting. Other investigators in the project are Karim-Aly Kassam, Natural Resources/American Indian Program; Christopher Dunn, Cornell Plantations; Art DeGaetano, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Amanda Rodewald, Lab of Ornithology.

Larry Smart

Larry Smart

Smart is part of the Cornell Climate Plan Reflections project. Cornell has embraced a carbon-neutral campus by 2035. Establishing forests on campus lands and transitioning to biofuels are options for reducing carbon emissions, but the carbon calculation is not straightforward. Forests and biofuel crops could reduce the land’s surface reflectivity, or “albedo”—an important but complex climate feature—and the warming effect may counterbalance the biofuels’ benefits. The researchers will develop an accounting tool to assess the net climate benefits of land management plans with more accurate climate projections. By revealing the trade-offs in land-use decisions, this much-needed tool has the potential for broad application beyond Cornell. Other investigators in the project are Timothy Fahey, Natural Resources; Natalie Mahowald, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Christine Goodale, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;  and Peter Hess, Biological and Environmental Engineering.

More information:

Dougherty receives Perrine award

Laura Dougherty, horticulture graduate student in Kenong Xu’s lab, is the recipient of the 2015 Perrine Award. David Perrine (Pomology ’22), a prominent orchardist from Centralia, Ill., established the award in memory of his wife, Fanny French Perrine. The award supports research by an undergraduate or graduate student in pomology. Congratulations Laura!

Steve Reiners, association chair, Horticulture Section, Laura Dougherty and her advisor Kenong Xu.

Steve Reiners, association chair, Horticulture Section, Laura Dougherty and her advisor Kenong Xu.

Planting season at Bluegrass Lane

It’s a busy time of year at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility adjacent to campus …


Christian Lesage, Sam McClung and Amber VanDyken plant annual flower and foliage plant trials that will be on display at the Cornell Floriculture Field Day August 11.

done's eye view of sod planting

Drone’s-eye view of newly laid sod ready for turf trials.


Horticulture professor Mark Bridgen, director of the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, planted more than 1,200 hybrid Glossy Abelias (Abelia x grandiflora) with lots of help from (left to right) Plant Breeding and Genetics graduate student Nor Kamal Ariff Nor Hisham Shah, visiting interns from the Universidad de Chile Pablo Tapia Figueroa, Constanza Rivas, and Agustina Hidalgo, and summer intern from North Carolina State University Kristin Neill.

Bridgen’s study aims to identify which varieties of the fragrant-flowering shrub normally grown in warmer climes can survive Ithaca’s Zone 5 winters.


New Hybrid Grapes Help Grow Wine Industry in Cold US Regions

Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

AP via ABC News [2015-06-07]:

The Marquette grapevines clinging to a steep, rocky hillside in the southeastern Adirondacks are among a host of new grape varieties that have enabled a boutique wine industry to take root in areas of the Northeast and Midwest that were previously inhospitable.

There were about 2,000 wineries in the U.S. in 2000; today, there are more than 8,000, according to the industry publication Wines and Vines.

“Across the country we’ve seen a huge expansion in wine and grape production and wine-related tourism,” said Bruce Reisch, who leads Cornell University’s wine and grape research and development program in New York’s Finger Lakes.

And the new influx of tourism dollars can be traced to, among other places, Cornell and the University of Minnesota, which have developed these hybrid grapes that withstand brutal winters and disease — and provide the quality and consistency needed to produce fine wine in places like Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio.

Read the whole article.

Leap of faith proves pollination can be honeybee free

Bryan Danforth inspects apple blossoms and native pollinators at the Cornell Orchards. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Bryan Danforth inspects apple blossoms and native pollinators at the Cornell Orchards. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle [2015-06-03]:

As the state’s land-grant institution, Cornell University was born to explore science for the public good – a mission that can sometimes require a leap of faith.

Just such a leap is paying off now at Cornell Orchards in Ithaca, as researchers and managers from the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and the Department of Entomology celebrate a solid spring pollination season for the site’s apple trees. While crisp apples and fresh cider are no strangers to fans of the 37-acre research and outreach site, this year’s crop provides an extra bonus for New York apple growers: proof that pollination can be done commercial honeybee free.

“This is a food security issue,” said entomology professor Bryan Danforth. “We need to know if growers can continue to produce food in the absence of honeybees.”

Read the whole article.

Also in the Chronicle: Pesticides harm wild bees, pollination in N.Y. orchard crops

Video: Entomology professor Bryan Danforth discusses the decision this year to let wild bees pollinate Cornell’s apple orchards, steering away from the practice of renting hives of European honeybees.

In the news

A round-up of recent news of horticultural interest:

Kenong Xu (Photo: Robyn Wishna/Cornell University)

Kenong Xu (Photo: Robyn Wishna/Cornell University)

Why Arctic Apples Were Approved By USDA [Growing Produce 2015-04-29] – Kenong Xu, assistant professor, Horticulture Section, discusses the journey genetically modified non-browning Arctic Apples took in order to get the go-ahead from USDA to be grown and sold in the U.S.

Backyard plants can pose dangers to humans, animals [Ithaca Journal 2015-05-22] – “We don’t want to be scaring people that everything out there is there to eat them, but it’s good to be aware if you have these plants around, especially if you have young children or you have pets. They do have poisonous properties, and one should be aware of them,” says Tony DiTommaso, weed ecologist, Soil and Crop Sciences Section. “That doesn’t mean they don’t have a place or a role in your backyard or as a wildflower.”

SoDel Concepts donates meal for students, professors working on Botanic Gardens [Cape Gazette 2015-05-22] – Don Rakow, associate professor, Horticulture Section, and Erica Anderson, Karen St. Clair, Emily Detrick, and Benjamin Storms, graduate students in the public garden leadership program presented recommendations for Delaware Botanic Gardens’ children’s garden and for a plant collection policy to ensure a diverse yet meaningful collection. DBG President Susan Ryan praised “… the contributions that Cornell University, Dr. Don Rakow and his inspiring students are making to the Delaware Botanic Gardens.”

Chef + Plant Breeder: The Future of Flavor [Culinary Point of View 2015-04-09] – Interview with Michael Mazourek, assistant professor, Plant Breeding  and Genetics Section and Chef Dan Barber exploring how they have spent the past 10 years working together to develop new organic crop varieties that emphasize flavor.

Commencement pictures

Last Sunday, Carol Grove attended her last commencement breakfast and ceremony as Graduate Field Assistant. (She retires June 5.) As usual, she took some great pictures.

Do you have pictures to share? Send a link to your album to

Bill Borgstede MPS '15 and his advisor and associate professor in the Horticulture Section Frank Rossi.

Bill Borgstede MPS ’15 and his advisor and associate professor in the Horticulture Section Frank Rossi.

New spacious greenhouses support research

Greg Inzinna, greenhouse grower with the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, is tending cassava plants in the new greenhouses. This breeding project aims to improve agricultural productivity and food security in Africa.

From Anja Timm (, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES):

Cornell researchers now have a new, state-of-the-art greenhouse facility available to house tall crops important to New York State growers, such as corn, trellised peas, alfalfa and biofuel grasses.

Part of the Guterman Greenhouse Range east of the School of Veterinary Medicine, the 8,000-square-foot facility is also home to research projects with international impact, such as the cassava breeding project.

Precision environmental controls, 16-foot double-pane glass side walls, and shade- and insulation-curtains in all eight compartments create a highly energy-efficient research environment.

CUAES manages 179,000 square feet of greenhouse space on and around the Cornell Campus, making it the largest non-commercial greenhouse facility in New York. They house 200 to 300 research projects at any given time. The facilities are supported by a dedicated greenhouse team that is committed to sustainable practices and continues to implement new ways to reduce energy use and waste.

Right: Greg Inzinna, greenhouse grower with the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, is tending cassava plants in the new greenhouses. This breeding project aims to improve agricultural productivity and food security in Africa.

young plants in greenhouse

Bassuk receives AHS Teaching Award

Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section and director of Cornell’s Urban Horticulture Institute has been honored with the Teaching Award in the American Horticultural Society’s 2015 Great American Gardeners Awards.

The award is given to an individual whose ability to share his or her horticultural knowledge with others has contributed to a better public understanding of the plant world and its important influence on society.

AHS notes that in addition to teaching college classes, Bassuk is co-author of Trees in the Urban Landscape: Site Assessment, Design, and Installation (Wiley, 2004), and has published more than 100 papers on urban horticulture such as evaluations of improved plant selections for difficult sites and improved transplanting technology. Bassuk is a member of the executive committee of the New York State Urban Forestry Council and received the Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal and Award in 2008 from the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. AHS previously recognized Bassuk with their Urban Beautification Award in 1992.

Earlier this year, Bassuk received the Frederick Law Olmsted Award from the Arbor Day Foundation and was named a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow.

Bassuk instructs students before planting.

Bassuk instructs ‘Urban Eden’ students before planting Tower Rd. bioswale, September 2014.