October 13, 2009
Arboretum Library October E-News
Hello all and welcome newcomers:
Here is the new titles link to the online catalog. There are some interesting magazine articles. The Botanical Society of South Africa’s Veld & Flora comes through again with a wonderful story about a very dramatic looking plant that was thought to be extinct. Fire brought it back.This month, library volunteer, Pamela Wolken reviews Amy Stewart’s first book:
“The whimsically provocative title The Earth Moved (Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005) opens the door to about 1.5 centuries of earthworm scholarship. Amy Stewart does a superb job of framing a huge subject into a readable, informative, encouraging tale of an ancient creature perfectly suited for the 21st century. A vermicomposter for seven years (or so, at the time of her writing), Ms. Stewart is sparked to study by the story of Charles Darwin after the voyage of the Beagle. His uncle, Josiah Wedgwood, observed that objects left on the ground, would be covered in soil. He hypothesized that he was seeing the work of earthworms. The rest, as they say, has become “common knowledge” of an uncommon creature: worms are good for the Earth. Modern oligochaetologists (from the worm’s taxonomic class: Oligochaeta) have continued the work of this ubiquitous and elusive subject that eschews light while busily digesting all manner of soil and toxins. Not all is rosy, and there are plenty of cautions against dumping left over live fishing bait willy-nilly in the environment. There are studies in Michigan of non-native worms destroying forests in ways unimagined, yet observed by Darwin. Meanwhile, worms go on about their business whether on their own, in captivity for fertilizer, or in the service of scouring up the messes of people from DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and biosolids (human excrement). Worms are able to ingest environmental toxins with no harm to themselves, which can not be said of the worm’s predators. Birds dead of eating toxic worms helped lead to the banning of DDT and PCBs in the 1970s. Wetlands are being restored and rebuilt with the inestimable assistance of earthworms who, to date anyway, don’t seem to mind being exploited as long as they have adequate conditions for their own prosperity. Read this book.”
Our current exhibition on mushrooms in the Library Reading Room will be here until the end of the year. Come and visit.The Arboretum Library hours are:Tuesday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.Sundays, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.Remember we are circulating to Arboretum members. The circulation period for books is 3 weeks with 2 renewals if no one else wants the item. You can renew by e-mail, phone or in person. The circulation period for current magazines is 3 days with 2 renewals if no one else wants the item.Our Botanical Information Consultants (for plant advice) are currently available seven days a week. David.Lofgren@Arboretum.org or Frank.McDonough@Arboretum.org or 626-821-3239.Happy reading!