At 9am sharp today the tropical glasshouse was invaded by a hush of Librarians. Led by the intrepid Helen Hathway (Head of Academic Liaison and Support) and guided by our biology subject specialist Tim Chapman more than 20 members of the library team explored the themed plant display. Showing rather less enthusiasm to dip their arms shoulder deep in murky pond water than the children from our recent 71st Beavers troop visit there was still evident interest in the tiny balloon whisk hairs on the water ferns that keep them afloat and there were gasps of surprise when a straggling green vine was dug to show plump sweet potatoes underneath.
The visit was themed around food plants and plants that cause problems. We saw, touched and sniffed at ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, grains of paradise, pineapples, rice and many other species.
There were lots of questions – most of which I could answer. There was some surprise at the lengthy process of converting sugar cane into sugar in a supermarket. You can read more about this complex process here.
For those who wanted to grow their own sweet potatoes have a look at these web sites: RHS gardening, Down the plot – a well illustrated but unfinished blog page, and for more on the botany of sweet potatoes see the blog by Irene Lucas.