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Botanical Selfies: Joshua Ajowele

Dr M says: It’s always a pleasure to introduce a young botanist to these pages and it is a total delight to introduce Joshua Ajowele who joined the MSc Plant Diversity at the University of Reading in September 2019.  Joshua is one of those special people who walks into the room and immediately makes an impact, he is a gifted scientist and botanist and I have really enjoyed his enthusiastic and questioning approach to learning botany with me and my colleagues at Reading.  He is relatively new to the UK but has made a point of joining and participating in the BSBI and with local flora groups in the region and he has given generous support to our 50th Anniversary Celebrations of Reading Botany in 2019.  Definitely one of the next generation of botanists to watch out for!

I am Joshua Ajowele, currently studying for a MSc in Plant Diversity at the University of Reading.

Celosia argentea in my mother’s farm

Celosia argentea in my mother’s farm

I got into botany when my mother started growing vegetables, I was about 8 years old. Eventually, she began to sell some of her produce to other people in the community. This ultimately resulted in the need for more hands. I helped with irrigation and subsequently with clearing, tilling, planting and even plant sales.

I studied plants while I was helping my mother in her garden. I learnt to cultivate vegetables such as Telfairia occidentalis, Amaranthus hybridus, Celosia argentea. Also I learnt how to break seed dormancy in Corchorus olitorius. From these beginnings I later studied and gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Science from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Nigeria.

I have worked with plants for some time now, as explained above, this started in mother’s garden. More recently I have participated in recording the phenology of Cassia fistula population in Olabisi Onabanjo University Main Campus for 3 years. I have also assisted with making ecological observations and recording bryophytes’ habitats as a research and field assistant to Professor Olubukunola Oyesiku. I recall seeing a Hornwort (Anthoceros) for the first time on a field trip to Chappal Hendu (a mountain in Taraba State, Nigeria) in 2016. I have experienced the joy as well as the challenges associated with reaching 312 villages in Ago-Iwoye (Ogun State, Nigeria).  Indeed, some extinct villages with mud houses and clay pot relics were discovered while making bryophyte collections and assessing the condition of the forest vegetation. I have also carried out practical horticulture and landscaping during my placement as an undergraduate.


I am interested in every area of botany, however, I am especially interested in the study of how plants can be effectively used to restore degraded habitats.

In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges for botany today is that most young people are not exposed to the study of plants. During my secondary school education, the only time I can recall there was any sort of a plant in class was the use of pawpaw (Carica papaya) fruit to demonstrate osmosis.

Telfairia occidentalis

Telfairia occidentalis

I do not really have a favourite plant. However, I do appreciate Telfairia occidentalis (Flutted pumpkin). It provides food as well as medicine for both the rich and the poor in Nigeria.




Professor O.O. Oyesiku waiting to cross a river with crocodiles

Prof O.O. Oyesiku waiting to cross a river with crocodiles

My botanical superhero is Professor Olubukunola Oyesiku. He is one of the reasons I love going out on the field. His enthusiasm when it comes to plants is contagious.

You can find me on Twitter @JAjowele or Joshua Ajowele.