Botanical University Challenge 2019!

YOUR STARTER FOR TEN: The first ever Botanical University Challenge took place at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, hosted by James Wong, on 10th March 2016 you can read more about it here. FINGERS ON BUZZERS! Dr M  is now planning BUC 2019 which will take place at the University of Reading on Wednesday 20th February 2019 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary celebrations of
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Dr M’s common grass quiz

It’s no secret that Dr M is raving potty about Poaceae so imagine his delight when he saw the new and wonderful @Wildflowerhour also getting into the Poaceous groove with their #grasschallenge! This time of year (June) is truly wondrous for Poaceae (but not hay fever sufferers!) as the vegetative shoots spring into action and come alive with flowering inflorescences bearing those strange yet magical
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White flowered trees in the hedgerow 3: The Elder Tree (Sambucus nigra)

Earlier this year Dr M wrote posts on two beautiful white flowered shrubs or small trees common in the British countryside and which tend to bloom in sequence from spring into summer.  Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) starts in April, followed by Hawthorn (Crategus monogyna – flowering in May. The final plant in this trio is Elder (Sambucus nigra) usually flowering from June into July, but
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White flowered trees in the hedgerow 2: The May Tree! (Crataegus monogyna)

Earlier this year Dr M wrote a post on the beautiful Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa one of the several white flowered shrubs native to Britain which tend to bloom in sequence from spring into summer.  Blackthorn usually kicks off the year being at its best in April, the clear white flowers of Hawthorn usually follow in May (indeed ‘May’ is one of the common names
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Dr M’s Botanical Selfies: The Orchid Hunter!

Dr M first encountered Leif Bersweden on the twittersphere, as you do these days, and with his regular attractive botanical tweets on orchids and other native British plants @LeifBersweden is certainly one to follow. The first real life encounter however, was at the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting at the Natural History Museum in November 2017 where Leif was signing copies of his new and
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Dr M goes wild about plant blindness in Japan!

Dr M is delighted recently to have taken advantage of a generous invitation to visit Japan again more than 25 years after his last visit!  Dr M visited botanical colleagues at the University of Tokyo and presented lectures, including one entitled “We eat, sleep or breathe plants so why are we blind to them?” Dr M says: Never in the history of human kind
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White flowered trees in the hedgerow 1: Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

A real favourite of Dr M, and a sure sign that spring is with us, is Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa.  Its pure white blossoms emerge before the leaves and so are set against the very dark, leafless, spiny twigs, surely one of nature’s simplest, coolest and mouth watering colour combinations.


Dr M’s botanical selfies enter 2018 with young botanist Josh Styles!

The latest in this series of botanical selfies features Josh Styles, one of the emerging young generation of British botanists who are filling oldies like Dr M with hope for the future of UK botany! Dr M says: I first came across Josh as a contestant on the Edge Hill University team of the very first Botanical University Challenge which I organised with John
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Advent Botany 2017 – Day 11: Let it Sloe, let it Sloe, let it Sloe!

This is Dr M’s contribution to #AdventBotany for 2017 the fourth fantastic year of this true botanical original from Alastair Culham and Dr M at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading!  The 2017 edition is curated by Alastair Culham and you can it all here. For day 11, ironically as I wrote this post it is snowing here in deepest darkest urban
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Dr M reaching out to the next generation with plants!

Following their successful visit to the University of Reading campus for Fascination of Plants day 2017, Oxford Road Community School and their teacher Mr Lyford invited Dr M to contribute to the school science club. The theme was classification and Dr M took in three bin bags of plants gathered from the University campus and invited the pupils to think about how we can group
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