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Dr M’s Lizard Diary – Caution: eXtreme botanists at work!

The final verdict: A week at the Lizard is really not enough!

Dr M and his students have seen beautiful landscapes, fascinating vegetation and lovely plants both common and rare, and much fun has  been had along the way!

Dr M’s final Lizard Diary entries for 2014 are galleries of images of people and of plants, between them they tell their own story, a story of eXtreme botanical beauty, diversity and enjoyment!

This second final post is a gallery of images of eXtreme botanists taking their work eXtremely seriously!

What is it with botanists and car parks?

Take a botanist to a car park and they’ll stay there for hours, pouring over tiny sprigs of this and that in amongst the gravel and tarmac. The Lizard was no exception, took us about an hour to extricate ourselves from the carpark and no plant more than a few millimeters tall! It’s botanical masochism let’s face it!

Oh I do like to be beside a quadrat!

No sooner out of the carpark than the botanist rushes into the nearest quadrat, counting all the species, woodies first, then monocots then dicots, then assigning DOMIN cover-abundance values to each species and then and only then moving on… to the next quadrat!

First rule of eXtreme botany: hand lens always at hand!

Little more needs to be said, it’s the must-have for the field botanist, the #1 essential item for the eXtreme botanist, without your hand lens you’re botanically naked!

The vegetation survey and assessment assignment

Students soon warmed to their task of describing the vegetation at Horse Rock, near Kynance Cove using the National Vegetation Classification. Locating those mysterious, even elusive, “representative stands of homogenous vegetation”, doing quadrats then  taking the data back to the camp site for analysis using MAVIS (bless her) and preparing a group presentation to communicate the findings to the trio of tutors, Dr M, Wizard Carter and guest tutor Hermione. A tall order indeed, but a challenge to which they rose admirably!

Teaching eXtreme botany

It’s the best job in the world and Dr M, Wizard Carter and guest tutor Hermione drew on well over a collective century of botanical experience to illuminate and elucidate and illustrate the botanical diversity at the Lizard. Skills such as looking carefully at plants, taking in all the vegetative and floral details using the hand lens, practicing keying using the veg key and the Book of Stace and checking the results carefully by reading the descriptions and making sure the plant fits the description. Important skills these, and skills which can be taught, but which can only really be learned through botanical dedication, concentration and love!

Dr M says: Botany rocks and eXtreme botanists rocks eXtremely muchly!



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