Monday 22 April 2013

Ask a referee (if you are a BSBI member)

Dactylorhiza kerryensis
Image: I. Denholm
One of the many advantages of BSBI membership is access to our network of specialist plant referees. The BSBI Yearbook has twelve pages listing families, genera and aggregate species for which referees are available, and how to get in touch with them. Any BSBI members struggling to identify a plant, or who would would like a second opinion, can send a specimen to a referee and can expect to receive some really helpful advice. 

Our referees are national experts in their particular plant group but do not get paid for providing this service, which is completely free, but only if you are a BSBI member and are not seeking help with commercial identifications - we are not able to do a consultant's work for them! There are also two Beginners' referees, so if you are just starting out in botany and would like some help, this is the service for you. The Yearbook is sent to you when you join the society, and you can start sending material to the referees straight away.

Ian Denholm (on left) and Richard Bateman (on right)
The photo on the left shows Ian Denholm and Richard Bateman, who are the two referees for the Orchid family (apart from Epipactis).  They have spent 30 years looking at British and Irish orchids, like this gorgeous Dactylorhiza kerryensis (above) photographed in Co. Cork.

Richard and Ian published a taxonomic reassessment of British and Irish tetraploid marsh-orchids in New Journal of Botany last year, and Richard's 2011 paper on the Military Orchid was also very popular. Ian will carry on as an Orchid referee even after he takes over as BSBI President in June. He is such an orchidophile that he will always make time to look at orchid material sent in by BSBI members! 

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