Hello, my name is Alice Nette-Thomas. I am a first-year undergraduate studying Ecology and Wildlife Conservation at Reading University. I am volunteering in the University’s Herbarium because species identification skills are something many Ecology graduates lack and I would like to ensure I am not one of them. Moreover, my plant identification skills are worse than my animal identification skills, both of which I hope to drastically improve with my time here!
I am currently working on learning to identify all British species of Trifolium (Clover), which are important to many species as they are legumes and given it is a grassland species it is extremely commonplace. Thus making knowledge of identification of its species important. Using this knowledge I can then document the clover species found on campus. Once I have improved my knowledge of clover to a reasonably competent level I plan to move onto learning to identify the many species of trees found on campus seasonally, so I can recognise a species by a bare twig/tree stump as well by its leaves.
So far I have found my studying of clover to be surprisingly enjoyable. It is fascinating to see how each species differs. In particular I have found Trifolium fraigerum (strawberry clover) to be rather pretty as it has the most delicate and intricate fruiting calyces. It is particularly enjoyable to look at the pressed plants, some of which I may never see either because they are so small I would miss them, or are extremely rare. I hope to look at more of the plant families available in the Herbarium in the future.