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York University Plant Growth Facility


Map of directions to greenhouse The Greenhouse is connected to Farquharson Building at its east end, and can be entered from the north or from inside Farquharson.

Visitors are welcome! It's best to contact the Greenhouse Attendant --Glen Marlok (416-736-2100 extension 22307)-- to arrange a tour of the facility.


27 February 2015: Pineapple Flower Buds. An orphan pineapple that found a new home in the greenhouse is producing an inflorescence. Each bract develops into a single flower (and eventually fruit section). Pineapple flower bud emerging Pineapple flowers

Pineapple flower

Cyperus (sedge) flowers 14 February 2015: Cyperus alternifolius (Umbrella Sedge) Flowers. The flowers are small, but put on a show for Valentine's Day anyway.

Cyperus (sedge) flowers and pollen (high magnification)

11 February 2015: Steam Shutdown. When the steam supply is shutdown in the middle of the winter, things can get interesting. It happened at about 8:00 AM. The backup boiler wasn't working, so we watched the temperatures drop, by about 3-6 Celsius an hour. Greenhouse-grown plants are not cold-hardy. We are not sure of the 'death-point', probably 5-8 Celsius depending on the species. So, things got a little tense. Luckily, the boiler was fixed within three hours, and steam supply returned soon thereafter. Zone temperatures during the steam shutdown

23 January 2015: Lily Flowers. Lily bulbs from ecology experiments in the fall got re-potted, and some have flowered! Lily flowers

10 January 2015: Elodea. Sometimes we grow unusual plants, like the common aquatic weed, Elodea. We need to maintain cultures for teaching labs, and what better place to grow it than a greenhouse? After all, it is a flowering plant!
Elodea plants in aquaria tanks Elodea plants in aquaria tanks

27 November 2014: Amaryllis Flower. It took three years of patience, which finally culminated in flowers. Amaryllis flowers

20 September 2014: Passion Flower. The blossom is simply astonishing.Passion flowers

13 September 2014: Cactus Flowers! First Time Ever! The greenhouse attendant Glen Marlok gave me a heads-up. The flower bud was there Friday afternoon, and in full bloom Saturday morning. Cactus flower bud and blossom A look inside the Cactus flower: style and anthers

Senescing Cactus flower blossom By Sunday morning, the blossom is already starting to senesce. Some of the rips in the petals could be because of small rodents climbing into the flower (the recumbent stigma suggests rodents or even bats are possible natural pollinators).

14 August 2014: Turnera Flowers! It seemed like a good time of year to show some of the Turnera flowers. They like it hot! So, it was a good excuse to escape a chilly August day and go into the Turnera greenhouse zones and take some photos! various Turnera flowers --mid-August

16 March 2014: C-Fern Babies!images of older Fern Sporophytes We have been growing C-Ferns (Ceratopteris richardii) in the greenhouse in preparation for Science Rendezvous in May. After a month, they are half-way to maturity.

13 February 2014: C-Fern Babies! We have been growing C-Ferns (Ceratopteris richardii) in the greenhouse in preparation for Science Rendezvous in May. Here are more details about the event.

images young Fern Sporophytes

images of the Nepenthese insectivorous pitcher plants 3 November 2013: Nepenthes. (Could it be for BioControl of greenhouse insects?)

19 June 2013: East Asian Lilies Bloom!images of east asian lilies at various flowering stages

28 May 2013: More Greenhouse Flowers!a montage of flowers blooming in the greenhouse

a hairy, red and large cactus flower11--24 April 2013: Flowering Cactus! It's uncommon for the cactuses to bloom, here is the rare exception!

Ludisia flower buds 19 decemberLudisia flower buds 26 december19 December 2012: Budding Orchid! Orchid buds have started to bolt (left), flowers soon to follow..... (right, 26 December 2012)

Ludisia flower buds 29 december one and now have flowered! (right, 29 December 2012)

Ludisia flower buds 29 december two(right-hand click to view larger images)
After asking around, it turns out our mystery orchid is Ludisia discolor (the jewel orchid, popular for its dark and velvety leaves).

blue ginger flowers10 October 2012: Blue Ginger Blooms! Spike inflorescences of blue ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora) appeared over the weekend, providing a regal purple in the teaching zone of the greenhouse to complement the pale blue of Tradescantia.

Tradescantia flowers16 September 2012: Tradescantia Blooms! It's not really all that rare, but Tradescantia is beautiful and worth a photo!

Aloe flowers 6 August 2012: Aloe Blooms! A spike inflorescence of aloe appeared about 2 weeks ago, with the basal flowers now reaching maturity.

Plumeria flowers30 June 2012: More Flowers Bloom!. Philodendrons aren't the only recent surprise. Here's another rare bloomer: Plumeria

Philodendron flowers24 May 2012: Philodendron Blooms!. It's a rare event to have the Philodendrons bloom, showing off their stunning colors. You can find out more about Philodendrons on Wikipedia. The flowers form on the spike-shaped structure (the spadix). This photo was taken by Mike Belanger on Wednesday 18 April.

About the Greenhouse

Welcome to the Greenhouse banner The Greenhouse (or, more formally the Plant Growth Facility) is a multi-user facility that supports teaching and research at York University. It's mostly research on plants (ecophysiology and evolution), but York's scientists also use the facility for research on insects, or to prepare compounds for biomedical research.

spiky cacti Plants used for teaching demonstrations are grown and maintained in the greenhouse. This allows York's students to work with growing material, and, possibly (for the cacti collection), to experience first-hand examples of plant defenses against inquisitive humans (and other animals)!

Tuurnera flower The Greenhouse is separated into four zones, each with a controlled environment. Turnera plants like it hot. The plants are used to understand the evolution of species and mating strategies.
yellow sodium lighting at night Lighting has to be supplemented for optimal growth of the sub-tropical Turnera. The yellow color of the light is because high pressure sodium lamps are used to maximize light intensity during the Canadian winter nights.

Some plants are used to produce compounds of interest to researchers, such as anti-virals from Phytolacca (Pokeweed).
Phytolacca flower spike

The plant growth facility was constructed in 2002, and opened to visitors in a 2003 Open House. Please drop in and see it for yourself!

Contact Information

If you have any questions about the Greenhouse Facility, you can call the Greenhouse Attendant, Glen Marlok

Office and greenhouse: (416) 736-2100 ext 22307

Environmental Data

Here are the temperatures and relative humidities for the four zones (from mid-2010 to 30 July 2013) [txt]

Here are the temperatures and relative humidities for the four zones (from 18 October 2013 to 12 August 2014) [txt]

Here are the temperatures and relative humidities for the four zones (from 1 August 2014 to 31 December 2014) [txt]