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The Global Flora

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Before the Global Flora

- Margaret C. Ferguson (Wellesley Botany Professor and Chairman from 1901-1932)

“It is our purpose that the department shall stand, primarily, in the future as in the past, for the dignity and educational value of its scientific work. At the same time we shall not fail to emphasize the humanistic aspects of our subject; and we shall endeavor to form a center that shall be of interest to all.”

1925

The Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses were built in 1925. 

2010

By 2010, the greenhouses had one of "the most diverse collection of plants under glass in the Boston area" (Winter 2010 Wellesley Magazine).

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2017

In late July, seven large specimens were moved into the Science Center (Spotlight on Wellesley).

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2018

The greenhouses were torn down in the spring of 2018 and construction of the Global Flora began (Mogolov).

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Global Flora Design

The Global Flora is designed as a net zero water and energy building. It has a solar grid and is heated by on-site geothermal wells. The building manages rainfall and filters waste water from the Science Center roof. 

Other prominent features of the Global Flora are the large concrete wall and unique shape of the building. The building's east-to-west arc promotes passive heat gain and allows for varying tree heights. The concrete North wall also promotes passive air flow, heat, and humidity from dry to wet biomes. The visual contrast between the wet and dry biomes allows for interdisciplinary study.

Our Research

With the Global Flora's design, we are able to explore the wet and dry soil microbiomes. Soil microbial organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, play an important role in sustaining plant life. One of our undergraduate researcher assistants, Stephanie, is currently characterizing the soil microbiome in the Global Flora through the plant Moses-in-the-cradle.

Stephanie Consuegra '22

Moses-in-the-cradle (Rhoeo spathacea) plants are used for mass planting and have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Stephanie wants to answer: "are there any differences among the composition and functional roles of the R. spathacea soil-associated microbial communities across the wet and dry biome?"

Stephanie found no statistical significance between 

the average sizes of the microbial communities, however morphological differences were observed.  One interesting finding was the apparent communication between two microbial organisms. Pseudomonas migulae produces a pink pigmentation when in close proximity to Hymenobacter