A visit to the temperate zone of the RHS Wisley Garden glasshouse by some of the MSc Plant Diversity students
The RHS garden at Wisley has one of the best curated plant collections in the UK so provided the ideal venue for today’s MSc plant family revision. After a tour of the herbarium and meeting some of the RHS botany staff we walked up to the glasshouse to work through some of the major plant families growing there.
Among familiar families such as Lamiaceae, Acanthaceae and Arecaceae we also picked up some more unusual ones such as Cyclanthaceae and Restionaceae.
The 2015 Powdery Mildew Survey is coming… Will yours be one of the 144 species previously recorded within the UK, on one of thousands of host plants previously recorded? Will it be one to have recently expanded its host range? A new species to the UK? Or a previously unrecorded species?! Continue reading
Posted in Herbarium RNG, PhD research, Public Engagement with Science, RHS research
Tagged #PowderyM, Ascomycota, Biodiversity, Erysiphaceae, Erysiphales, Fungal identification, Fungarium, Fungi, Oli Ellingham, Oliver Ellingham, Pathology, Plant Pathology, Powdery Mildew, RHS, Royal Horticultural Society, UK baseline
Equisetum arvense, the common horsetail
The horsetails, botanically the genus Equisetum, are perhaps some of the most distinctive plants in the world with their ridged hollow stems, that lack green leaves, and their cones bearing jumping spores. However they are also a problem to gardeners who do not want them competing with their flowers or vegetables. Unlike Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), a non-native for which there are now many control measures, the common horsetail is a native plant with no biological control.
As a botanist I appreciate this ancient lineage of plants, that is now classified with the ferns, and even grow some of the less invasive species including Equisetum hyemale of the form often sold as E. japonicum. In the University Tropical Glasshouse we have Equisetum myriochaetum, a horsetail that can grow several metres high but is not frost tolerant. At one time horsetails were even thought to accumulate gold! Continue reading
The question at the heart of my PhD is a very practical one: ‘How can we use the appearance of apples as an authenticity tool for industrial purposes?’
One of the usual suspects…
Total modelled plant species per 1km grid cell over the Iberian
In the lastest paper from Marshall Heap’s thesis we discuss the impact of near-future climate change on plant species in the Iberian peninsular (Spain and Portugal). 3267 MAXENT environmental niche models (ENMs) at 1-km spatial resolution for known Iberian plant species under two climate scenarios (1950-2000 baseline & 2020) were generated using a compute cluster. This is the largest 1km scale modelling exercise for plant species yet published. Continue reading
Edward Burne-Jones, Star of Bethlehem
The Star of Bethlehem guided the Magi from the east to the stable in which Jesus lay. This classic part of the Christmas story has given rise to the star on the tops of Christmas trees but also to much astronomical debate on what the star actually was. For a longer discussion of the various theories try the whychristmas web pages. Ideas for the nature of the star vary from a comet, through the conjunction of planet Earth with Jupiter and Saturn to a Super Nova. Continue reading
The botany of the Brussels sprout is remarkable, being merely a variety of the common cabbage (Brassica oleracea) and so is genetically the same as the cabbage but also to a wide range of other brassicas – cauliflower, broccoli, calabrese, kohlrabi, collards and kale.
The cabbage has been around for millennia – earliest records of cultivated cabbages are to be found in the writings of ancient Greece and Rome and date from around 600 BC, but in contrast, the sprout is a recent invention. It was first recorded in Belgium in 1750, near Brussels (well, it’s what it says on the tin!). From there it took about 50 years for the crop to spread to France and Britain. Continue reading