|Fred (on left) & Chris with copies of the Handbook|
Image: Jonathan Mitchley
Authors Chris Metherell (who wrote the text) and Fred Rumsey (who focused on the illustrations) welcomed their guests at noon on what we had decided in advance should be called Eyebright Day!
Those guests included some very well-known and highly respected names in botany, including Prof Mick Crawley, Emeritus Professor of Plant Ecology at Imperial College, London, and a BSBI trustee; John Swindells, President of the Wild Flower Society; Squadron Leader Martin Godfrey, President of the British Bryological Society and a member of BSBI Council; Dr Jonathan Mitchley, Associate Professor in Field Botany at Univ. Reading; and Dr Helena Crouch, joint County Recorder for North Somerset and Secretary to BSBI Council.
|Botanists at the launch examine herbarium sheets|
Image: Sandy Knapp
And we were delighted that designer Helen Baker of LTD Design Consultants was able to come along - thanks to Helen, the new Handbook is as attractive as it is useful!
The programme kicked off with a short welcome address by Dr Sandra Knapp, Head of the Algae, Fungi and Plants Division at the Natural History Museum.
|Chris examines one of the oldest eyebright |
specimens in the NHM collection
Image: Alex Twyford
After lunch, there was a workshop in the Angela Marmont Centre and a herbarium tour, offering attendees a chance to see Euphrasia type specimens held in the world-famous British & Irish herbarium.
Everyone was delighted to have a chance to visit the Historical Collections Room to see C18th Euphrasia specimens.
They also enjoyed seeing some of the hybrids collected during BSBI-funded research trips for the Handbook, including the ‘new to science’ E. pseudokerneri x arctica.
|Kevin & David trial the Handbook on Colonsay|
Image: Pete Stroh
The celebrations for Eyebright Day extended beyond the Natural History Museum - botanists across Britain and Ireland took part via social media!
Chris had visited herbaria across Britain and Ireland during the research process for the Handbook and so today herbarium curators in locations such as Cardiff, Liverpool and RHS Wisley tweeted photographs of some of the herbarium specimens Chris had examined while preparing the keys for the Handbook.
|Eyebright specimens held in|
the herbarium at Cardiff
Image courtesy of
National Museum, Cardiff
Meanwhile, up on the Isle of Colonsay, BSBI Head of Science Dr Kevin Walker and former BSBI President David Pearman were trying out the Handbook on some Hebridean eyebrights.
Check out the #EyebrightDay hashtag on Twitter to see the many photographs and comments shared during the day!
So, Eyebright Day was a resounding success! Thanks go to the Natural History Museum for hosting the launch, the guests who travelled to London for the day, and all the botanists and herbarium curators across Britain and Ireland who took part via social media.
If you'd like to get your hands on the new Eyebrights Handbook, you can order a copy now from Summerfield Books.
Let us know how you get on using the new Handbook in the field - we think you will find eyebright identification, notoriously one of British and Irish botany's biggest challenges, much less daunting than ever before!