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eXtreme botany at the University of Reading Bioblitz!

What is a Bioblitz?  A ‘BioBlitz’ is a large scale event run over 24 hours where people come together to identify as many species as possible. Where is this Bioblitz?  At University of Reading we are bringing together scientists, naturalists, local community groups, students and the public to learn about the amazing biodiversity on the glorious, green and prize-winning Whiteknights campus. When is this
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Liking lichens…

“Lichens? They are just wannabe plants!” as one of my past botany students put it – she didn’t like them very much!  Well I suppose there is some truth in this.  Lichens are a curious combination of an alga (a group of plants which includes the seaweeds) and a fungus (not a plant – in fact fungi (e.g.mushrooms and toadstools) are closer, in evolutionary
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Meadow Foxtail has all the anthers…

Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis) on the University of Reading campus is now looking splendid with a myriad anthers protruding from the spikelets (the grass flowers) in this characteristic spike-like inflorescence.  In the previous Foxtail post Dr M promised to explain more about the diverse types of grass inflorescence, all of which are variations on what, in botanical terms, is known as a panicle, it’s
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How many Buttercups are there?

In this picture thousands!   But of Buttercup species there are quite a few.  For example, according to the book of Stace, the latest flora of the British Isles, there are 30 species and hybrids of Ranunculus (the Latin name for the Buttercup genus). But there are three very common species which you must learn before you move on to the others!  There is Creeping buttercup
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How eXtreme can botany get?

Pretty eXtreme conifer ID  along the treacherous Chang Kong Cliff Road on the edge of  Huashan mountain, China!  A suitable location for Dr M’s next eXtreme botany video?


eXtreme botanical imagination – Karl Blossfeldt at the Whitechapel Gallery

  Not only then, in the world of art, but equally in the realm of science, Nature is our best teacher.”  Karl Blossfeldt “Wundergarten der Natur” (1932). Dr M is never one to let botanical imagination pass by… so check out the Karl Blossfeldt exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.


Poaceous Postcard from the Peninsula

Mid May 2013, and during Dr M’s annual botanical field trip to the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, we found over 300 different plant species during the week! Many plant families delighted us but we made a bit of a special study of Poaceae and, although we didn’t find every genus from Dr M’s legendary Poaceae song, we certainly found a decent number!


eXtreme botany challenge!

Following his post on defining eXtreme botany, Dr M has been asked: “Dr M, so can you identify a grass from just one leaf?” Dr M replies: “Hmmmm, I just love botanical conundrums!  This would surely be tricky if you were given a leaf of a grass at random, not knowing from whence it was plucked.  But if you know its geographical origin, e.g.
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Botanical postcard from Romania

Dr M is busy surveying in Romania north of Constanta on the Black Sea coast, nice work if you can get it, although the swarms of ferocious Mosquitoes are something else!  The vegetation I have been surveying includes coastal sand dunes, marshes and steppe grasslands. From my botanising, I find that the plant families are generally familiar here (loads of Asteraceae and Brassicaceae for
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Dr M: Trick Botanist on Channel 4 TV?

Back in early Spring, Dr M had a call from Channel 4 TV about a new high profile TV series “Ben Earl – Trick Artist” scheduled for the prime-time Friday evening slot.   The producer explained that this exciting new television star would explore a different theme in each episode – Crime, Art, Money. But it was the theme of the Nature, and a trick
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