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Tag Archives: botany

Gentianaceae: Rare Gentians and Common Centauries

The Gentian family has an air of the exotic about it, all those lovely deep blue arctic alpines seen on holiday in the Alps! Gentianeaceae are quite easily recognised by their opposite, entire and glabrous leaves, 4-5 petals (famously blue of course in Gentiana, but other genera are white, yellow or pink) with the petals fused into a corolla tube with 4-5 stamens borne
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Grass Identification: The Tribes of Grasses 1 – Poeae

Here is the first of Dr M’s promised grass identification blogs on the Tribes of Grasses and starts with The Poeae because?  Well just because it seems logical, we ARE talking Poaceae after all!  The Poeae is the second largest tribe of British grasses after Aveneae which will be the subject of the next blog in this series. Eleven British genera fall in the
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Some like it hot

This years weather has been varied to say the least!  The coldest spring since 1962 and a wetter than average May was followed by a heat wave which kicked off in July and is currently still with us.  This rather extreme weather has played some interesting games with the plants of our countryside.  The wet May seems to have been great for the grasses
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Tools of the eXtreme botanist’s trade #1: the hand lens

Dr M has been asked by his public to make a video about the hand lens – surely the main tool of the botanists trade, certainly for the field botanist.


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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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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