Our first Inga agroforest plot four months on

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Inga seedling planted on February 27 with the Motacusal community. This picture was taken on June 27 and shows how quickly Inga edulis can grow on an abandoned slash-and-burn site. Click on image to watch a clip.

We have established Inga agroforest plots on abandoned slash-and-burn sites, degraded pasture and land used for road grading where the topsoil is removed with a bulldozer. Our seedlings have established on all of these sites but with slower growth and more ill-health on the bull-dozed and pasture sites.  We planted out our plot at Motacusal, an abandoned slash-and-burn site, four months ago and since then the seedlings have done very well, some growing to 1.5 m in height. At this site we have 1,200 plants growing and they look close to ‘capturing’ the site, that is to dominating the weeds and no longer requiring weeding. Thanks to the nectaries on their leaves most of the seedlings have their own group of ants taking the nectar and protecting the plant from leaf-eating insects such as crickets, grasshoppers and stick insects. As the dry season is just beginning here, with rainfall reducing to once a week, it will be interesting to see whether the seedlings continue to grow or become dormant until the rains return in November. Overall a very positive start! Continue reading Our first Inga agroforest plot four months on

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Weeding: essential for agroforest plot establishment


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Inga seedling six weeks after planting and already being strangled by a vine which if left unchecked will have killed within a few weeks

Although fast-growing Inga is not the fastest growing plant on a bare site. Several species of grass, vine, tree and shrub, commonly known as ‘pioneer’ species specialise in just such conditions. For the first few months they can outcompete Inga  which once over-topped will struggle to grow. Indeed some of the weedy vines are capable of strangling and killing seedlings after only a few weeks. Weeding is therefore essential and if not done can lead to the loss of the site. It is also risky though as it is easy to damage  seedlings by mistake and in the case of vines, disentangling them from a seedling, once they have tendrils or suckers firmly attached is a real challenge. Continue reading Weeding: essential for agroforest plot establishment

Baseline soil observations

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Small soil auger for making 30-40 cm soil profiles

The big assumption of our Inga-based agroforest system is that we will improve soil fertility, specifically by increasing soil organic matter, nitrates and in the case of cattle pasture countering compaction. These are all assumptions based on previous work, sometimes with different agroforest tree species. If our work is to have real impact with policy makers and local government in the Pando then it is also important not only that it serves the needs of rural communities but also that we can demonstrate this impact in a verifiable way. Hence the need to take some basic baseline observations. Continue reading Baseline soil observations

Online tools for nomenclatural revision


Together with species delimitation, a significant part of taxonomic revision involves establishing the validity and priority of names.  Usually the aim is to have one accepted name per taxon but where there are fewer epithets than  species, then new names need to be generated and published. Much more frequent, however, is the case of several epithets being associated with a single species and in these cases one of the epithets has to be selected as the accepted name . The remaining names are designated as synonyms. Within botany there are on average three epithets associated with each name. Continue reading Online tools for nomenclatural revision

Parsana malekiana Parsa et Maleki

Parsana malekiana Parsa et Maleki,  Fl. Iran [Parsa] Suppl. Gén.: 548. 1952. Holotype: Iran, Parsa & Maleki s.n. ’24 March 1949′ (TUH)

Parsana malekiana is an unusual and illegitimate name described by two Iranian botanists, Parsana and Maleki, and named after themselves, something not permitted under the rules of botany. As luck would have it they were also describing something that had already been described over a century earlier.

Parsana 550 IMAG1545

Parsana 548IMAG1539