The Nigerian Field Society

How is Papyrus scroll made from the Papyrus plant, and where does the species come from?

How is Papyrus scroll made from the Papyrus plant, and where does the species come from?

On Saturday 4th July we welcomed the Nigerian Field Society UK branch to the Tropical Glasshouse.  This was an especially interesting visit for me because many of the visitors had far more experience of tropical biodiversity, and particularly tropical botany and agriculture than I have.  The result was a tour that operated as a question and answer session for me and the visitors.

Among the visitors were academics who had worked at the University of Ibadan, one of Nigeria’s most prestigious Universities, situated in the third largest metropolitan area in Nigeria.

Among the group visiting I was pleased to see Ayo, our Aframomum blogger and MSc student, who has returned for Summer graduation on Thursday.  She was keen to see how the plants had grown, to see the first flowering of our Plumeria shrub and the Tacca seedlings as well as to collect a few of the spare scotch bonnet chilli peppers. Continue reading

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A Multidimensional Greek Wedding

Church or TARDIS? it appeared too small to hold the congregation

Church or TARDIS? it appeared too small to hold the congregation

In March 2012 Kalman and Maria were helping prepare the tropical glasshouse for complete re-planting.  There was heavy digging to do while we mixed 4-5 tonnes of home produced compost for filling the glasshouse beds and some photography which involved lifting a camera.  Kalman and Maria got deeply involved with the work, splitting it equitably; Maria doing the heavy digging and Kalman taking the photographs.  Since then Kalman has completed his PhD and now works for the Royal Horticultural Society and Maria is in the final year of her PhD.  The two of them have not restricted themselves to botany though, they have, today, been married.  As far as I’m aware it’s our first Tropical Biodiversity related wedding. Continue reading

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Ranikhet Primary School – a rainforest experience

What's in the water? Plants that keep it clean and clear.

What’s in the water? Plants that keep it clean and clear.

Today pupils from Ranikhet Primary School visited the Tropical Biodiversity Greenhouse (Part of Reading University Herbarium in the School of Biological Sciences) to see, smell, touch and draw plants that grow in the tropics, and particularly the tropical rainforest.

Two classes visited to hear about the features of rainforest plants: leaves that shed excess water and often have drip-tips; adaptations to too much light, too little light, poor soil, strong winds, plants growing on other plants, things to eat and things to avoid.

We looked at members of the pineapple family, known to botanists as bromeliads, including a pineapple in fruit, a range of bromeliads growing on an artificial tree branch and even Spanish Moss, a plant that hangs from twigs and even from power lines in the Americas. Continue reading

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1st Whiteknights Brownies

Banana leaves tear in the wind

Banana leaves tear in the wind

We hosted a visit from the 1st Whiteknights Brownies this evening in a very warm and humid tropical atmosphere.  Over an hour we toured the world of plants asking questions such as ‘What eats chilli peppers and why?’, ‘how do banana plants stay upright?’ and ‘why doesn’t water hyacinth sink?’.    As well as seeing the water plants and food plants the brownies met an ‘ant plant’ – a species related to coffee that grows a big swelling at its base for ants to live in.  Continue reading

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Comfortable life with Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass)!!

This gallery contains 17 photos.

You have heard of name “lemongrass”, haven’t you? So, what is the lemongrass? Is Lemongrass same as a Lemon? The answer is definitely No! It is a completely different species from the lemon. Well, why do we call it the … Continue reading

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Nepenthes mira – The Wonderful Pitcher plant

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Nepenthes mira Tropical glasshouse Reading University

The Nepenthaceae, and in particular the only genus in this family, the genus Nepenthes, has been described in a previous blog, posted on this site by Garance (Wood-Moulin 2013). In that blog the morphology and development of pitcher plants has been illustrated together with an account on the overall taxonomy of the genus Nepenthes.

For additional information and illustrations on the Nepenthaceae, the reader should refer to “Flowering Plant Families of The World (Heywood et al. 2007). Continue reading

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You’re a botanist, what’s this then? (Or Tradescantia spathacea, this one’s for you mum!)

Tradescantia spathacea, from my parents garden. ©Phoebe Richardson-Moy

Tradescantia spathacea, from my parents garden.
©Phoebe Richardson-Moy

That sentence may sound familiar to many of you who frequent this blog (followed closely by “Botany, so you’re a gardener then?” but we won’t go in to that). Being asked about the identity of a random plant that mysteriously turned up in someone’s garden is something you get used to. This blog is what happens when the universe conspires and the planets align and a class project coincides with an innocent question from the mother of a botanist… Continue reading

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