Recently, Dr M discovered a botanical website called simply: “Go Botany“, based at the New England Wild Flower Society in the USA. This wonderful botanical site embraces botany in the 21st century with a whole suite of online teaching and learning tools, basic and advanced online keys, plant sharing and interaction with the botanical community young and old alike.
Dr M’s MSc New Year Plant Hunt (borrowed from the idea by BSBI) took place on Tuesday 14th January 2014. Three groups of MSc students walked the University of Reading Whiteknights campus for 1 hour each in the chilly sunshine collecting any plant in flower and these were taken back to the lab and identified
Dr M loves it when this happens! Stumbling upon some writing which leaves him speechless, thinking: “Oh my! What eXtreme creative botanical mind was at work there?”
‘Tis the season for jolly party games and Dr M is proud to present the World eXclusive botanical party game: eXtreme Carpology: seeds, fruits and flowers! Created for the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting in November 2013 by Christine and Waheed, two of Dr M’s Plant Diversity MSc students at University of Reading.
So, have you mown the lawn for the last time before Christmas? Well, if, like Dr M your answer is no, then, like Dr M, no doubt you can be found gazing guiltily out of the window at a scruffy, soggy mat of grasses, covered in equally soggy, manky leaves and praying for snow to hide it all away!
Can you recognise the commonest plant species in Britain? Dr M has previously posted the 30 most common British plant species based on data in the New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora and the Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora.
Dr M is always on the look our for useful resources for teaching an learning plant ID and recently he discovered (belatedly, for it has been around since 2009!) an illustrated manual by Lena Struwe, Associate Professor in the School of Enviromental and Biological Sciences and Director of the Chrysler Herbarium (CHRB) at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA.
OK, so you find this plant on abandoned railway sidings in West London. It looks like Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) but the leaves are all wrong, they are very thin, even grass-like, alternate and clasping the stem. The flower books are not a lot of help and none of the illustrations looks anything like it.
To key plant families, for example using the Book of Stace, it is very important to understand the structure of the flower very precisely, how many perianth whorls (e.g. petals and sepals), how many stamens (male parts – the androecium) and how many carpels, stigmas, and so on (female parts – the gynoecium).
Dr M has already posted on the top 20 UK plant families and the series is on-going. Here Dr M continues a series of cameos on a selection of these families together with his top tips for family recognition. Asteraceae: the Daisy or Dandelion or Composite or Aster family. A large and diverse family but the really key feature is the composite inflorescence. Yes, those
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