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  • December 09, 2016 12:52 PM | Anonymous


    by azhadminKM

    azh-2017-postcard-draftThe AZH Program Committee is now accepting proposals for presentations for the 2017 AZH Annual Conference Program in beautiful Naples, Florida. The Call for Presentations has all the information that you will need to submit a proposal for all presentations including directions, guidance, and deadlines. We rely heavily on professional zoo horticulturists for program presentations. Please consider sharing your experience and knowledge with your colleagues in AZH by being part of the AZH Conference program. If you have any questions or if you need motivation, please contact me at daileyc@jacksonvillezoo.org. We have experienced AZH Program Committee members ready to assist and guide you.

    Chris Dailey, AZH Program Committee Chair

  • June 15, 2016 12:59 PM | Anonymous


    by AZH

    Zoo arborists and municipal arborists share in common the need for high-level communication skills, the pursuit of excellent tree care amid a myriad of environmental stresses, and the ability to perform work safely in sensitive areas. The contributors to this Roundtable are professional members of the Association of Zoological Horticulture (AZH) (www.azh.org).    Full Article

  • June 14, 2016 12:05 PM | Anonymous


    An Inside Look at Zoo Arboriculture
    By: Michelle Sutton

    Whether they’re in-house or contracted, arborists who work in zoos have to be high-level communicators, coordinating work hour by hour with zookeepers. The tree work has to be done safely and without stressing the animals — yet efficiently, so that the animals are not removed from public view any longer than necessary.  



  • June 30, 2015 10:09 AM | Anonymous


    cartoon-certificateEver since its inception in 1980, the Association of Zoological Horticulture (AZH) has been dedicated to the advancement of zoo horticulture in zoological parks and aquariums. This dedication can be seen in AZH’s creation of its Zoo Horticulturist Certification Program. The program produced its first class of graduates in 2011. The program is offering its membership training that emphasizes the best practices in horticulture from the specific perspective of how these are utilized in the zoo and aquarium environments. Among the program’s goals are to provide an integrated and comprehensive training program on the unique aspects of zoo and aquarium horticulture that will ensure the highest level of excellence, technical expertise and professionalism among AZH members. These professional development courses also promote the exchange of ideas and networking opportunities among zoo horticulture colleagues.

    Certification consists of four two-credit core courses and two elective courses at one credit each. Horticulturists who participate in a course and who successfully pass the in-class examinations will earn credits towards the 10 credits required for certification. The core courses, as determined by the AZH Board, are: Integrated Pest Management, Soils, Exhibit Design I, and Browse and Toxic Plants. Elective courses will include Water Management, Plant Conservation/Education, Record-keeping, and Design II. Initially, the training was part of the schedule of the AZH Annual Conference. The first full-day training course on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was offered in conjunction with the 2007 AZH Annual Conference in Tulsa.

    Instructor Carol Glenister, IPM Labs, Inc., works with Rick Knight (Topeka Zoological Park) to identify insect pests with a hand lens at the inaugural course in Tulsa in 2007. Photo by Terry O’ConnorInstructor Carol Glenister, IPM Labs, Inc., works with Rick Knight (Topeka Zoological Park) to identify insect pests with a hand lens at the inaugural course in Tulsa in 2007. Photo by Terry O’Connor

    Creating the courses and administering them has been a full out endeavor and one of the primary areas of work for AZH. The development of each course begins with the assignment of a course administrator who works closely with the outside consultant AZH has hired to facilitate course development and management. This team first defines the course goals and outcomes, and determines pertinent topics that need to be covered in the course. Instructors with relevant expertise are then selected from within the AZH membership and from universities, businesses, agencies and other organizations.

    Online courses are currently being developed through San Diego Global Academy. The first online course, "Browse and Toxic Plants," is now available (click on the "eLearning Site" below).
    eLearning Site

    AZH’s mission is to promote excellence in zoo horticulture. The Zoo Horticulturist Certification Program supports this mission by providing its graduates with the tools they need to apply new skills and practice quality horticulture in a zoo or aquarium environment. Certification will advance the profession of horticulture within the zoo and aquarium industry and enhance the ability of horticulturists to contribute to the success of their organization’s mission..

  • June 30, 2015 9:34 AM | Anonymous

    What comes to mind when you think about zoos? Well animals, of course! But just imagine a zoo without plants... Animal exhibits lacking the natural effect that plants provide. Few places for animals to interact, and visitor areas without plant displays and shady spaces to retreat to. What is "zoo horticulture"? A simple description might be "gardening and landscaping activities which occur in a zoo or aquarium setting." But there is so much more!

    Zoo horticulture encompasses activities that range from exhibit/landscape design, development, and installation, to managing plant material within exhibits and visitor areas; from providing plant material for animal "diets" and "enrichment" (things that "enrich" the lives of zoo animals), to assisting zookeepers in identifying potentially toxic plants; from establishing interesting plant collections to promoting the awareness of plants and plant conservation. Zoo horticulture is so much more than just gardening and landscaping!

    Animal exhibit and landscape development:

    Most modern zoo exhibits incorporate the idea of placing animal species within the context of a "natural" environment as much as is possible. Plant materials, both living and non-living (such as logs, roots, and limbs), are vital to creating this natural environment. The zoo horticulturist is an important part of the planning and design process, and installation of new zoo exhibits. The zoo horticulturist interacts with architects, animal curators, administrative staff, construction companies, landscape contractors, nurserymen, and others in all stages of exhibit development. As an adviser to the project, the zoo horticulturist recommends suitable plant materials and offers strategies to ensure critical plant requirements are met for the successful growth and development of plants used in the project.

    Managing landscapes within exhibits and visitor areas:

    The zoo environment is a "rigorous" environment for plants to say the least! The zoo horticulturist is challenged with the task of keeping exhibits looking natural and "fresh"—not an easy task when one considers the "abuse" which plants incur. Whether it's soil compaction from hoof stock such as zebras, giraffes, etc. or defoliation from herbivores, plants are damaged or have difficult growing conditions to contend with, and it's the zoo horticulturist's job to meet the challenge!

    Development of browse and plants for animal enrichment:

    The zoo horticulturist is called on to assist curators, zookeepers, and commissary managers in identifying, locating, and nurturing plant materials for a zoo's animal collection. The zoo horticulturist's knowledge is invaluable in providing "browse" plants for specialized animal diets and supplementing regular diets. Many zoos maintain blocks of plants ("browse") specially suited and available for the dietary needs of the zoo's animal collection. Of special concern is the identification of potentially toxic plants and ensuring that zoo animals do not have access to them.

    Establishing interesting plant collections:

    At the heart of the horticulturist or gardener is a desire to share the world of plants with others, and what better way than to establish and maintain collections of plants to capture the interest of zoo visitors. Zoos are often recognized for their beautiful, engaging collections of plants. Plant collections allow visitors to learn fascinating facts about plants and their importance to all life on earth.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAConservation of plants and the environment:

    Zoo horticulturists are actively involved in conservation efforts and reminding the public that many plant species are also threatened from habitat destruction and other forces. Zoo horticulturists are often the key people in their institution's efforts to "reduce, reuse, and recycle." Composting of zoo wastes is often the job of the horticulture/grounds maintenance department.

  • January 30, 2015 11:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The first time I noticed considerable foliar damage on our tulip poplars was last June. The reason I noticed it may be due to the fact that I planted some young trees two years ago and they are still relatively small, about six to eight feet tall. Most of the foliage is at eye level so it was easier to spot. I observed brown spots and yellowing, and upon closer inspection, saw many black beetles on the leaves. I couldn’t identify them immediately but they had elongated appendages near their noses that looked like snouts—a feature that distinguishes weevils. After an internet brief search, I identified them as yellow poplar weevil, Odontopus calceatus. Once aware of them, I started scrutinizing all our tulip poplars and found that even the tall ones (30 feet and taller) showed similar damage.
    Generally, this pest is found east of the Mississippi River, where its native, preferred hosts, tulip trees (yellow poplar) and sassafras occur. The adults create bean-shaped pits where they feed on the leaves—especially those of tulip trees, sassafras, southern magnolias, and sweetbay magnolias. The larvae also cause blotchy leaf mines. The adults are more conspicuous, as a summer generation emerges suddenly in late June. They look like large ticks and people often mention the “flying ticks” they find on their clothes.

    As with most leafminers, this pest is easier to manage if the adults are targeted. Every few years, an overabundance of adults emerge in June and July. This turns out to be more of a nuisance than seriously damaging to plants. Various control methods for this beetle include biological control, which involves natural parasites and predators that attack the larvae and pupae within the leaf mines. Cultural control can be achieved by eliminating preferred host species, such as sassafras trees and sweetbay magnolias. Chemical control involves applying a contact or stomach insecticide to kill the adults as soon as they begin feeding on the leaves. Several systemic insecticides are registered for control of leaf-mining insects and are effective in controlling the larvae. The best time for application is when the eggs have just been laid or while the mines are still greenish in color. Once the pupae are present in the mines, it is too late for the insecticides.

    This must have been one of those bumper crop years for the weevils as there were numerous adults on most leaves. Much of the damage by the larvae had already occurred so I set out to deal with the adults. Since the trees were planted close to the gorilla yard, I could not spray any conventional insecticides. I decided to dislodge the adults with daily blasts of water from the hose. I also set up an impulse sprinkler to help knock them off and discourage repopulation. After a few weeks they disappeared, but I understand that the adults would normally persist for only a few weeks. Next year I will be vigilant and check for the adult weevils, which overwinter in leaf litter until spring temperatures cause trees to produce new leaves, usually in April and May. The adults feed for a period of time and eventually, mated females hollow out a small pit in the lower mid-vein of a leaf and deposit one to 15 eggs. And the cycle begins again. Most of the information in this article and more details about this insect can be found at:  https://bugguide.net/node/view/51464

    Submitted by Susan Pierce, Pittsburgh Zoo

  • June 12, 1982 7:26 AM | Anonymous


    There has been a need for many years to exchange horticultural information and ideas among zoos and zoo horticulturist. To that need the First International Conference for Zoo Horticulture was held in Philadelphia during the last week of August, 1980. An outgrowth of that gathering was the beginnings of a loose organization to promote a better understanding of the role and needs of horticulture in zoos. One of the ideas of this group was the wish to exchange a newsletter directed to the area of horticulture. Our hope is that this newsletter can be an aid in the ever growing needs of an effective horticultural program in all zoos. The AZH Newsletter will be mailed quarterly as information, news and articles are made available. We need your help by supplying ideas, articles and information. Features in this issue include a listing of some sources of native seeds and plant material. Articles and information that should be of particular interest to zoo horticulturists. And a listing of 2 articles in national publications that have some interest for zoos. Features to be added in future issues:

    THE PLANT EXCHANGE - information that could lead to seed and plant trading and exchange among zoos.

    WHATS NEW IN OUR ZOO - a gossip column supplied by our reader's relating successes and attempts at new directions in zoo horticulture.

  • June 10, 1982 9:18 AM | Anonymous


    I was asked to speak with you today, among other reasons, because I'm an amateur horticulturist with an amateur’s acquaintance with toxic plants. Clearly, from your point of view, this has some disadvantages. What you may not realize is that my amateur status may be all that is needed to keep you out of the ranks of a new human subspecies which I have named Homo sapiens hysterics, and which I suggest is gradually, supplanting Homo sapiens. Homo hysterics lives in a world of perpetual and imminent danger, and is prone to damage more from the violence of his efforts to avoid danger than from the threat itself. A few weeks ago in this very city, at a large public gathering on the Parkway, 59 people were treated for minor injuries when the crowd panicked at the sound of a few firecrackers. Not too many years ago I think . . . . I hope . . . we'd have taken this kind of thing in stride. So, that I propose today is a non-hysterical approach to the problems of toxic plants in zoological gardens.

    Frankly, I'm not sure there is a problem. Our host has stated that he has no knowledge of any zoo deaths from this cause. Well, then? How do we provide answers if there are no questions? Faced with this dilemma, to prepare for today I set out to locate the questions? The list is short. I came up with three. Perhaps some of you could lengthen it.

    1. Are there plants which have been known to cause death of zoo animals?
    2. Is the intrusion of local flora which may damage human visitors to the zoo such as poison ivy, thorny bushes, etc. a problem for zoo managers?
    3. Occasionally domestic animals succumb to plants in pastures or silage (water hemlock, cockleburr, Jimson weed). Must the zoo manager be alert to these?

    We'll talk more about these problems, if they are problems, but first let's go back to the emotional approach. The typical book which deals with poisonous plants can be frightening. It prints lists whose length is astounding and which include names whose presence is astounding. Consider Walter Conrad Muenscher's POISONOUS PLANTS OF THE UNITED STATES, with a list of 99 plants that cause dermatitis. . The list includes the young stems of asparagus, the flowers of Catalpa speciosa, the leaves of the Wild Carrot, English Ivy, primroses, lily-of-the-valley and Viper's Bugloss, and the rhizomes of Iris species. Surely we humans are surrounded with dangers there are even reports of "a number of cases of contact dermatitis. Among farmers and others handling large quantities of celery" I However, be of good cheer. Muenscher says and I quote: "Most poisonous plants... are harmful only when they are eaten. Relatively few plants produce poisoning by contact'. In a sense 99 isn't all that many (even if it does include such common species as Ailanthus, Burdock, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Box, Daphne, Larkspur and Ginkgo) seeing that there are at least 30,000 from which to choose.

    All this may be interesting but of no great significance for zoos since dermatitis from contact poisons isn't significant for animals other than humans. As always, there are exceptions. Some plants contain chemicals called photosensitizers which can cause animals to develop a great sensitivity to light. Now the animals are subject to sunburn, which can be serious for albino or partly white individuals. Even death may follow, from starvation, because the animals' mouths become so badly burn that they can' t eat. St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum and H. crispum), Ladies Thumb (Polygonum) and Alsike Clover all cause photosensitization. I looked this up in a couple of books with titles like A VETERINARY GUIDE FOR ANIMAL OWNERS. Photosensitization was not mentioned.-In fact, there was no mention of any disease brought about by toxic plants. Obviously, there is no crying need for preventive work here.

    I do not mean to deny that there are toxic plants in the world. The legion of sufferers from exposure to Rhus radicans and others of its genus would surely raise a brow. Also, in a recent year, of 161,500 and some cases of possible ingestion of poisons which were reported to the National Clearing House for Poison Control Centers, over 11,000 involved plants. Since most cases are probably not reported it is difficult to come by a true total. Some authorities like to talk about 50,000 to 100,000 a year. True to the principles of Homo hysterics, most of these so-called "cases" weren't actually poisoned. To be counted, it was only necessary for a person to swallow a plant or plant part that was suspected of being poisonous. For instance, 442 of these cases involved Pyracantha berries, which taste terrible but aren't dangerous.

    Nevertheless, there are poisonous plants which can and do have serious if not fatal effects. A recent listing of the top ten gives Philodendron, Yew, Pyracantha, Bittersweet, Marijuana, Holly, Poinsettia, Dieffenbachia, Elderberry and Oleander. These aren't necessarily the most poisonous plants around, but they are among the most accessible. Four are house plants, reflecting the recent national preoccupation with potted and hanging plants. Holly and Bittersweet often find their way into our homes. Marijuana . . . well, what can I say? Yew and Pyracantha are cliché plants in the suburbs, as I gather is Oleander in the warmer parts of the country.

    PHILODENDRON, with calcium oxalate in the leaves, causes burning of the mouth, vomiting and diarrhea. I first met calcium oxalate on a college botany class field trip. The instructor, an old-timer, invariably served slivers of JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT corms to unsuspecting students, whoe burning mouths were instructive in an unpleasant way. I suppose if you did this in 1980 the students would sue the university, so I leap to assert that I do not endorse this instructional technique. Incidentally, the starchy corms of JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT were boiled and eaten by Native Americans. YEWS have fleshy red berries about the size of a pea, open at one end showing the single hard seed inside. The seeds of most species are poisonous, capable of causing vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, weakness and convulsions. Sometimes the foliage is poisonous when eaten by livestock. In his book, POISON PLANTS, Alan Eshleman says "Very few gymnosperms are poisonous, but the YEW makes up for this be being very poisonous. All parts . . . contain the poisonous alkalois taxine. Animals are sometimes killed from eating the bark, leaves or seeds. People are most often poisoned by the fruit of the YEW tree. (I contend this phraseology is typical Homo hysterics style. Most or all of us have grown up with large populations of yews and have lived to be here today.) If children eat enough of these berries they can get very sick, but luckily the fruit is the least poisonous part of the plant, so death from yew poisoning is very rare." PYRACANTHA was mentioned earlier, not too seriously, BITTERSWEET, or WOODY NIGHTSHADE, also known as BITTER NIGHTSHADE and DEADLY NIGHTSHADE, is a climbing vine from Europe which has become naturalized in North America. It has attractive purple flowers and brilliant scarlet berries. Both leaves, berries and shoots are very poisonous when eaten, so the plant should not be near children or grazing animals. The related COMMON NIGHTSHADE, Solanum nigrum, with black-purple berries is also an enemy. MARIJUANA leaves and flowers are said to be poisonous, overdoses producing nausea, poor coordination and rarely, coma. Various species of ILEX or HOLLY have berries which may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Eshleman says "probably more than twenty" berries, need to be ingested, which would seem to indicate that nineteen are okay. POINSETTIA leaves and stems can cause stomach upset, but this plant's reputation is probably far more fierce than it deserves. DIFFENBACHIA, DUMBCANE, has a highly acrid sap that irritates the mucus membranes so much that speech is difficult or impossible for several days “After it is- eaten. It has been said the Dumbcane used to be given to slaves as punishment. Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, grows wild over much of the U.S. Fresh leaves, flowers, bark, young buds and roots contain a bitter alkaloid, producing I prussic acid and causing fatal results if eaten by cattle and sheep. Poisoning of children has been ascribed to chewing or sucking the bark. However, jellies, preserves "- and wines are made from the small, blue-black berries which ripen in the late summer. Finally OLEANDER, common in the south, California and Hawaii has leaves which are highly toxic both in green and dry condition; all parts of the plant are toxic. It can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, slow and irregular heartbeat, dilation of pupils, bloody diarrhea and respiratory paralysis. Phew:

    The poisonous properties of a plant may be due to a single chemical, several similar compounds, or to substances with very different chemical properties. Most common are alkaloids, which are found in the lily, poppy, buttercup and potato families and in certain legumes. Correctly used, alkaloids of some plants have medicinal value, such as atropine, caffeine, cocaine, morphine, nicotine, quinine, strychnine and the extract of curare. Other poisonous substances are glucosides of Prunus, Sorghum and flax; resinoids in heaths; phytotoxins of Black Locust and the Castor Bean. Oxalic acid is the poison in rhubarb leaves. It is present in many other plants but seldom in quantities sufficient to cause poisoning.

    Most cases of plant poisoning in humans and animals (setting aside skin irritants) are caused when the toxic principle is eaten. Clearly, then, it must be present it must be there in sufficient quantities and it must be palatable. This last requirement rules out the vast majority of plant poisons, for relatively few plants taste good. Most people confuse the terms "inedible" and "poisonous", assuming that anything inedible is poisonous. Now I am an inveterate taster (and smeller) of plant parts as an aid in identification and probably have indulged in a substantial number of those mentioned so far.  Most of them taste awful, or are relatively tasteless.  Few incite one toward gluttony.

    There is an article in the April 1977 issue of Horticulture by a pediatrician at the Kaiser/Permanente Medical Center in Fontana, CA. Dr. Guy Hartman describes The Sinister Garden, a collection of poisonous plants growing just outside the Pediatric Clinic. Some visitors who see azaleas, poinsettias and iris officially labeled poisonous are determined to rush home and redesign their gardens. Don't, says he. "Replant your azaleas. Rescue the poinsettias, and defend the iris. I will personally guarantee that none of them will kill any of your progeny A sound thinker, This: To quote further: " . . .it would require 1/4 to 1/2 pound of azalea vegetation to seriously poison a 2 5 l b child . . . the poinsettia is not entirely harmless (but) the myth of its fatal toxicity has been thoroughly debunked by recent research; and I cannot imagine and toddler digging up the iris rhizome for an afternoon snack . . . The Sinister Garden was planted not to terrify concerned parents... but to educate the public to potential dangers lurking unsuspected in their backyards." This article says that of the 700-plus poisonous plants in the United States probably only the castor bean and oleander ought to be kept away from young children.

    A reasonable question along about here is. Does any of this have anything to do with zoo animals? Of course, you know more about this than I do. However, as in humans the frequency of poisoning is often a result of a lack of more palatable food, a condition not likely to confront captive animals in the modern zoo. Of course, some poisonous plant may be present in hay and coarse feeds, and a few cause trouble only or primarily when fed in ground feeds. A noted authority, Dr. John M. Kingsbury, writes -.1 of toxic effects occurring in animals after ingestion of 1-11% to 5% of their body weight, or after they have grazed on a certain plant exclusively for a number of days or weeks. Again, these are unlikely scenarios for zoo animals. To sum up this point here is a quote from Muenscher: "Most cases of stock poisoning occur either in the early spring when the grass is still short...or in late summer when the grass is dried up . . . Under such conditions of scarcity of forage, animals are frequently forced to eat poisonous plants which would otherwise be left untouched." So we are given to understand that undesirable plants will not be consumed if an adequate supply of good feed is provided.

    Are you beginning to accept that this is, or could be, or ought to be a very dangerous world? Azaleas, caladiums, delphiniums, flax, tobacco and jimson weed carry toxins in all of their parts. Agave, avocado, ranunculus and foxglove concentrate them in their leaves. Holly, ivy, privet and mistletoe offer us poisonous berries. Elder, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, eggplants and tomatoes produce edible fruits on plants otherwise hostile, and with many of these the seeds inside the edible fruits are dangerous. Pokeweed and acorns can be in your diet, but beware of them improperly prepared. Get your medicinals from foxglove and lobelia, but for heaven's sake don't eat them, enjoy the leaf stalk of rhubarb; beware of the leaf blade. Be sure to swallow the seeds of cherries, castor beans the rosary pea intact so the seed coat can protect you from the toxic substances inside.

    With all these hazards can animal life as we know it survive? Well . . . yes. Of course. Our own life experiences tell us so. The problem is manageable. In fact there is very little we need do about it.

    The Philadelphia Zoo has performed autopsies on all of its casualties for more than 65 years and has no record of a death from plant toxins. To my knowledge no zoo has been sued for exposing visitors to poisonous plants. Finally, hay or feeds which cause problems are easily replaced.

    We've answered our three questions. What's left? I contend there is a good point to be made for extending the educational functions of the zoo in this area. Why not your own Sinister Garden? Why not try to get across the truth about poison ivy, yew, and dieffenbachia? The crowds that come to see captive animals make a beautiful captive audience. Why not inject them with a bit of the horticultural along with the zoological? With more than just name tags? Arboretums will never compete with zoos as crowd gatherers, so I think there is a tremendous opportunity for zoo-Hort folks to perform an additional public service. We should be introducing toxic species in a controlled way, not eradicating them. Planting is what you are all about. The real challenge is to eradicate- not toxic plants - but the Homo hysterics subspecies along with all those fears which a little reason and knowledge can show to be unnecessary.

    * Paper given at the First AZH Conference by Val Udell, Director of Product Development, D.C.A. - Educational Products, Warminster, Pa., Subsidiary D.C.A. Inc.

  • June 10, 1982 7:29 AM | Anonymous


     The Sedgwick County Zoo, Ron Blakely, Director, will be hosting the second conference for zoo horticulture to be held October 17-20, 1982 in Wichita, Kansas. More information can be found on the back cover. At this conference the first - set of Officers for the Association for Zoological Horticulture will be elected -- and a simple set of by-laws considered. Virginia Wall, Horticulturist for the Sedgwick County Zoo, is planning a great conference with plenty of time for the exchange of ideas.

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