Cerrado ecosystems and the Meskal Daisy on the cover

The Meskel daisy, Bidens pachyloma, from Ethiopia
The Meskel daisy, Bidens pachyloma, from Ethiopia

The third in a series of videoblogs from AoBBlog.com about the background pictures used on Annals of Botany covers.

The Youtube link is here, and it is best watched in HD/1080p resolution. An outline of the text is below the video insert below, and the text includes some extra links.

A shrubby tree, Plumeria ?rubra from the Apocynaceae featured as the background on the 2011 Annals of Botany cover. The picture was taken in the Brazilian cerrado. The adaptation to fire with the bark and rapid sprouting following the first rains after the fire is clear. This is an exceptional ecosystem with many species. While most people think about the threats to the Amazon forests and its conservation, those to the cerrado are less discussed and potentially as severe, with replacement of the vegetation with crops. Interestingly, one of the most downloaded papers from Annals of Botany each of the last three years has been from 1997 – yes, 1997 when downloads were hardly used – but clearly representing a manuscript well ahead of its time ( http://tinyurl.com/AoBcerrado )! Again, the GPS-encoded location from the Plumeria shows it was photographed to the south west of Brasilia, in the heart of the cerrado at 16° 5′ 39″S, 48° 17′ 00″W, and quite high at 882.3 m. It was taken about three weeks after the regular fires in the area, and a surprise for me was how rolling the cerrado ecosystem was.

Finally, we get to the launch of the new cover for 2012: the Meskel (or Meskal, Mekel) Daisy Bidens pachyloma from Ethiopia, culturally an iconic flower for the country that symbolises happiness and rebirth. It flowers for a relatively short period in early September around the time of the Ethiopian New Year and an important part of the ceremony of the finding of the true cross. The hillsides of central and Northern Ethiopia are covered with the bright yellow flowers, and it is cut and used to decorate floors and the pyres of the crosses which are then burned in joyful ceremonies around the country. In the January issue, the Meskel daisy is paired with another daisy in the inset picture – an important fossil of an extinct Eocene species from the work of Viviana Barreda in Rio Negro, Argentina ( www.dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcr240 ). Altogether, a cover that symbolizes the interest of plants – from the cultural to the ecological and through to their evolution.