Wake-up and smell the roses

March 09, 2009
Written by Canada Newswire
robert_ragusoMarch 9, 2009, Toronto — Dr. Robert Raguso, scent expert from Cornell University, will welcome spring with his presentation, “Wake Up and Smell the Roses: Floral Scent and its Impact on Pollinators and People” at Canada Blooms on March 20.

The inaugural speaker in Vineland research and Innovation Centre’s new speaker series, Dr. Raguso has spent his life in passionate pursuit of floral scent. His presentation will examine the intriguing secrets flowers hold within the folds of their perfumed petals. He will be speaking on the Canada Blooms Main Stage at 7 p.m.     

Dr. Raguso is an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University.

He describes how flowering plants and their animal pollinators inadvertently stock our tables with food, our medicine chests with drugs, and inspire our art, literature and popular culture with their beauty. He notes that, collectively, the ecological dance between flowers and pollinators represent one of the great expressions of biological diversity on planet Earth. In deserts, grasslands, rainforests and alpine meadows across the world, they are the glue that binds together entire ecosystems. Without figs and fig wasps, there are no toucans, hornbills, fruit bats or any of the thousands of rainforest insects that survive on the bounty of ripe fruit, or the hundreds of migrating birds who raise their young on such insects.

FAST FACTS
• Who would guess that the clove and ginger scented Bulbophyllum orchids of Malaysia are code-breakers, whose odors mimic the sex pheromone of Asian fruit flies? These flowers provide the potential to trap thousands of agricultural pests without pesticides, a strategy known in Integrated Pest Management as “mating disruption.”      
• Likewise, whrobert_raguso_streamo would imagine that the basic principle behind the repellence of insects by marigold odors would suggest an environmentally friendly way to repel pests by “pushing” them towards “throw-away” plants situated alongside crops? 
• Who would guess that commercial roses don’t smell as sweet, because domestic breeding for colour compromises the biochemical pathways that make fragrances?      
• Or that ancient cycads would embody the axiom “the dose makes the poison” by turning up the scent – and the heat – on their pollinators to ensure that they carry pollen to a female cycad cone and complete the cycle of fertilization?      

Find out more by joining Vineland Research and Innovation Centre at the Main Stage of Canada Blooms’ on March 20 at 7 p.m.

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is an independent, not-for-profit corporation established to create a world-class centre for horticultural science and innovation.

Now in its 13th year, Canada Blooms was founded by Landscape Ontario and The Garden Club of Toronto.
This year’s edition of Canada’s largest flower and garden festival will be held from March 18 to 22 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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