Red glace cherries on yellow marzipan
For me, the glace cherry is a staple ingredient of Christmas cooking. I include them in both my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding recipes – both are based on ‘Delia Smith’s Christmas’ although her original version of the pudding recipe does not have cherries in.
Cherry in English derives from the French ‘cherise’ which in turn comes from ‘cerasum’, the Latin for cherry which refers to the geographic origin of cultivated cherries; Kerasous ( Κερασοῦς, an ancient Greek name for Giresun in modern day Turkey). Some cherry species have this name embedded in their scientific name (e.g. Prunus cerasifera, Prunus cerasus, Prunus cerasoides) but, rather ironically, not the sweet cherry of cultivation! Continue reading
Hazel gloves (Hypocreopsis rhododendri), a rarely recorded fungi thought to parasitise the Glue Crust fungus Hymenochaete corrugata, which in turn parasitises the plant host
A large part of the Lost & Found Fungi (LAFF) project involves aiding our volunteer collectors in their mycological education. A field week in Cornwall therefore involves much more than simply keeping our eyes peeled for rarely recorded fungi!
In many ways we could not have picked a worse week for a field trip; with the ‘beast from the east’ providing less than ideal conditions for field collection and cutting our planned 2-day microscope workshop in half. However, despite such adverse weather, finds of #LAFF100 target species Favolaschia colcera, Xylaria crozonensis, & Hypoxylon fuscoides (yet to be confirmed) along with returning the great input of the Cornwall Fungus Group with three days of forays and a single day of microscope and identification training, meant the week was a success. Continue reading
Having graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy and completed the promotional tour, I was lucky enough to be accepted as ‘Community Fungal Survey Technician’ for the Lost & Found Fungi Project (LAFF); a project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and run from the Identification and Naming dertment of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Continue reading
Posted in Public Engagement with Science
Tagged #LAFF100, Botanic Garden, Fungi, Kew, LAFF, Mycology, Powdery Mildew, RBG, Royal Botanic Gardens, The Lost & Found Fungi Project, Workshop
This survey has now closed. Thanks to all BSBI vice-county recorders who completed the survey.
I have recently started a PhD at the University of Reading titled ‘Garden plants: a threat to the natural environment due to climate change?’ This NERC SCENARIO project is supervised by Dr Alastair Culham and Dr Brian Pickles at the University and by Dr Eleanor Webster at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). I will investigate the possible impacts of climate change on the distribution of garden plants, and their interaction with our native flora. I am particularly interested in garden plants which are showing early signs of naturalising or having invasive potential in the ‘natural’ environment. We are often told about the impact of invasive garden plants, such as Rhododendron x superponticum, but which of our garden plants might be problematic in the (not-so-distant) future?
Rhododendron x superponticum (© Alastair Culham)
The initial element of this project is an online survey. The aim is to gather information on which garden plants are perceived to be a future threat to the natural environment in different parts of Britain and Ireland. Are you a vice-county (VC) recorder for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI)? If so, you are invited to take part in this survey.
The survey can be completed in 15-30 minutes and can be accessed here. You should read the information sheet before starting the survey. If recording duties are shared for your VC, both VC recorders are welcome to complete the survey. Alternatively, if you would prefer to complete a hard-copy version, please email me. The survey has now closed. There are 153 VCs in Britain and Ireland and I will keep updating my return rate here.
Number of returned VCs (survey closed)
The data from the survey will inform subsequent elements of the PhD, including bioclimatic niche modelling and a citizen science initiative. This will encourage people to observe patterns of garden plants naturalising ‘beyond the garden fence’. So, if you are not a BSBI VC recorder – don’t worry! There will be an opportunity to engage with this PhD project at a later date. The results from the survey will be made available on this blog page.
This is the 100th #AdventBotany blog and the fourth for Christmas day. The first Christmas blog featured the Star of Bethlehem, the second, Christmas Cactus, and the third, a tough and Christmas flowering heather. This is the first Christmas blog to feature an edible plant. This blog is a brief introduction to the potato, how to roast them, their varieties, where they are grown and a little on their morphology. Continue reading
Juniperus communis with cones
Juniperus communis is the most widespread of the juniper species. Juniperus is within the conifer family Cupressaceae. Whether as a small evergreen tree or a shrub, it is one of the most globally widespread woody plants. J. communis is cultivated in the horticulture trade as an ornamental, with its timber and other non-timber products collected mainly from the wild, which have a wide variety of human uses; some dating back to prehistoric times. Continue reading
Rosemary makes a tasty addition to many savoury dishes. My favourite is a rub of salt and crushed fresh rosemary leaves put on potatoes before roasting but it’s also lovely with lamb and even with citrus based desserts. Rosemary was probably introduced to the U.K. in Roman times and it is reported in Banckes’s herbal (1525) as a plant with a remarkable range of reported uses: “take the flowres and make powder therof and bynde it to the ryght arme in a lynen clothe, and it shall make the lyght and mery… Also take the flowres and put them in a chest amonge youre clothes or amonge bokes and moughtes shall not hurte them…. Also boyle the leves in whyte wyne and wasshe thy face therwith…thou shall have a fayre face. Also put the leves under thy beddes heed, and thou shalbe delyvered of all evyll dremes…. Also take the leves and put them into a vessel of wyne…yf thou sell that wyne, thou shall have good lucke and spede in the sale…. Also make the a box of the wood and smell to it and it shall preserne [preserve] thy youthe. Also put therof in thy doores or in thy howse and thou shalbe without daunger of Adders and other venymous serpentes. Also make the a barell therof and drynke thou of the drynke that standeth therin and thou nedes to fere no poyson that shall hurte ye, and yf thou set it in thy garden kepe it honestly for it is moche profytable….” Continue reading
Wine corks. Composite (upper), cut (lower) (Photo A. Culham)
It’s decided, 2017 is the year I finally contribute to this fine festive botanical blogging tradition. But what should I write about? Holly? Ivy? All the usual suspects have already been covered –and excellently to boot. Maybe a glass of wine would help me mull the problem over. As I open the bottle the answer is in my hand. Cork! Whether it is a stopping the bottle of red enjoyed with Christmas dinner or shooting out of the champagne on New Year’s Eve, where would we be without it?
Christmas day at the North Pole is dark. In Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homelands of Canada, the Arctic Circle (66.6 degrees), marks the latitude where the noon sun is just visible on December 21st, the northern winter solstice. The sun rises above the horizon for about 2 hours. On Christmas day in Iqaluit, day length will be 4 hours and 22 minutes.
Photo 1. Lighted qulliqs tended by Inuk women in Pond Inlet (left) and Cape Dorset (right), with traditional and modern lamp wicks
Christmas gift tags from Gallery Oldham collection.
The Winter Solstice has been celebrated in many cultures for thousands of years. In our northern latitudes evergreens show how life continues even in the depths of winter.
In pre-Christian times evergreen boughs were hung in winter to encourage the return of the sun gods. Christians preferred holly with the red berries representing the blood of Christ amid eternally green leaves. Continue reading