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 3 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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The Date Palm: A Special Plant from the Old World

Traditional date palm farm in  Oman (R Al-Yahyai)

Traditional date palm farm in Oman (R Al-Yahyai)

The Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is grown throughout the arid and semiarid regions of the world, particularly in West Asia and North Africa. It is well adapted to the desert environment, where a dry and warm climate is important for fruit maturity and ripening.

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Tacca chantrieri – Halloween in the plant world!

Tacca chantrieri has a purple-black, curious yet magnificent inflorescence with wide-spread wings and whisker-like bracts hanging from the side. The inflorescence of this tropical plant almost looks like a bat or jungle cat in the wild. Thus giving the plant a common name of the Black Bat Flower. 

Tacca chatrieri

Tacca chantrieri – Wikimedia Commons: photograph by Jef Poskanzer, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

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University librarians enjoy the Dew(e)y atmosphere

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.

Hiding behind the papyrus, some of our visitors from the Library.

Hiding behind the papyrus, some of our visitors from the Library.

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