The green house collection was started all the way back to the 60s and was used for classes in botany back then:

- It’s quite large collection for a department using it for education and research, and not for the public, says Anna Pettersson, gardener at the green house.

Anna Pettersson, gardener at the green house.

A very rare collection

Anna Pettersson started working 2015 in the green house since the old Department of Botany and Department of Systems Ecology joined together and became Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences (DEEP) and moved into the current facilities. Anna managed the move of all the plants. DEEP currently has close to 1000 individuals in the collection:

- We have to be very careful with the collection we have, because we can’t get it back, says Anna.

The reason being that the broad spectrum of the collection was gained from the 60’s until the 2000 century. At the time, it was much easier to get plants from all around the world. You could just ask a teacher, research colleague or even a friend going for a tropical vacation, to take some seeds or parts of a plant. It is not possible any longer. It’s now difficult to take plants from other countries because of the Nagaya protocol, which is meant to protect a country´s living material to be exploited by another country or individual. To bring a plant for research or other use you need a contract with the country that states how you are allowed to use it.

Green house number two. Photo: Niklas Björling.

- The plants we have we regenerate by taking cuttings and seeds and replanting them. We do it twice a year, because otherwise they will grow too big. That’s why we are often putting out ‘giveaway plants’. We try to keep 3 plants of every species, says Anna.

Palm tree, Chamaedorea matallica is used for teaching. The leaves are shimmering in metallic and it has roots growing from the stem above the ground to support them in windy conditions. Photo: Niklas Björling.

Growing plants lacking nutrition or light

Students use the collection to view different plant parts and experience the diversity of the plants. The courses they are used for are; plant physiology, biodiversity and phylogeny of organisms, plant systematics and the biology of a garden. When it’s time for classes the teacher assistants come to the green house every day and take plants down to lab, depending on the purpose of the day and exhibit them for the students.

- We also grow plants with different impairments for example lacking nutrition, or examine how they react to stress or light. We can then see what they look like being grown in a certain condition, says Anna Pettersson.

Anna also tampers with the flowering times to make sure that the plants flower when they want them to – for the students taking spring and autumn classes.

- They can flower by themselves, but now, for example, we have taken some plants to a dark room and take them out just for a few hours of light every day. Right now we are using a closet as a dark room. That induces the flowering. Some plants won’t flower when it’s a long day, explains Anna.

Fir used in an experiment to test how well fertilization with silica on spruce can reduce beetle grazing and which substances the spruces release in the air, preventing the beetles from eating the bark of the spruce. Maria Greger’s research group is working on this project. Photo: Niklas Björling.

Keeping the plants neat and safe from predators

Anna likes all the plants for different reasons, but now her favorite is a plant in the same family as ananas:

- It’s a plant in the Bromeliaceae family called Puya. It hadn’t blossomed since when I started here, and suddenly not a long while ago it blossomed! It is really beautiful.

Puya blossomming. Photo: Anna Pettersson.
Puya bud. Photo: Anna Pettersson.
Pineapple - Ananas comosus.
Planting room where Anna Pettersson, Johanna Grahn, researchers and research assistants work with sowing, planting and handling of plants. Photo: Niklas Björling.

Anna Pettersson together with gardener Johanna Grahn take care of the watering of the plants as well as monitoring their wellbeing.

Johanna Grahn, gardener in the green house.

- I don’t water them every day, but I’m monitoring to see that they haven’t gotten any new pests. Johanna is takes care of them by preventing them from mixing with each other and caring for their physical wellbeing, says Anna.

One of the main jobs of Anna is thus to avoid spreading pests in the green house:

- If there is a pest problem, I can add pesticides, but I don’t really want to because it is damaging to the environment, says Anna.

This means they use predators such as nematodes, insects and mites to fight the pests.  Providing pest-free plants is one part of Anna Pettersson greater vision for the greenhouse:

- Our ambition is to provide the best possible service to the researchers and students using the greenhouse, finishes Anna.