Monday, 31 March 2014

Robert Pocock Herbarium

What on earth do they put in the water down in Kent? First we have Lliam's excellent plant ID videos, and now Pauline Heathcote, of the Kent Botany Group, has been in touch about an equally excellent project she is connected with, which sounds like great fun and also really highlights the importance of herbaria. 

She told me "There are some sixteen enthusiasts who have been actively searching through the Herbarium at the Natural History Museum to collate the Pocock Herbarium".

Robert Pocock was Gravesend's first local historian, printer, creator of it's first public library and botanist. In the early 1800's he began a collection of local plants for his herbarium or dried plant collection. Long after his death, the herbarium was donated to the Natural History Museum in London. 

Seseli libanotis Moon Carrot
Pauline says "The herbarium sheets are still there, amongst many thousands of others, effectively 'lost' to us for 200 years! The aim of the project is to find this unique record of Gravesend's botanical heritage and make images of the plant specimens available to us all. To date we have found over 180 specimen sheets".

Follow the progress of Pocock Herbarium on their Blog and on their Facebook page. You can see images of the plants and people involved in the project on Facebook and Flickr (links are on the website, or search for Robert Pocock Herbarium). A few of the images are also reprinted on this page by kind permission of Kent Botany Group.

Apparently at least five of the enthusiasts trying to track down Pocock Herbarium are BSBI members, as well as members of Kent Wildlife Trust, so I think their excellent Blog meets the criteria for inclusion on our list of 'Blogs by BSBI members'. Follow the link on the right to see all the latest Blogposts on Pocock Herbarium. 


Dr Mark Spencer & some of the Pocock Herbarium Team
Pauline also said "We have some financial support from HLF and there will be a one-day conference to celebrate the end of this part of the project. Speakers will include local historians and Dr Mark Spencer (NHM), Richard Moyse and Malcolm Jennings (his presentation will include some of the outcomes of visiting sites from which Pocock collected)." 

You can book for the Pocock conference here and learn more about the plants Pocock found, and the local places where he found them, at a one-day Conference at Millbrooks Garden Centre, Southfleet, on July 8th 2014. As well as the talks by knowledgeable speakers, there will be displays, tea and coffee on arrival, a buffet lunch and afternoon refreshments. Pauline says "Everyone is welcome. Tickets are £10 each and must be booked in advance".To book a place contact Sally at sally.chalk@googlemail.com  OR  tel. 01474 322171.