Sunday, 19 April 2015

News from Stoke Museum

One of the nice things about attending a BSBI workshop is the chance to catch up with fellow botanists from other parts of the country and find out what they have been up to in their local patch. 

It was great to see Martin Godfrey at the Euphrasia workshop in Leicester a few months ago - he shares my passion (and yours, I hope!) for herbaria, and volunteers regularly in his local herbarium at Stoke Museum. So I'm delighted that Martin has sent us an update on his work on brambles, and some images. 

Here's what Martin has been up to:   

"Having completed the catalogue of Eric Edees' Rubus material, I thought I would get away from the actual plant specimens for a bit and take a look at some neglected material in the form of Edees papers left to the museum on his death.  

"As a county recorder and national referee for Rubus his correspondence was very wide, taking in many of the major botanists of the previous generation - including Peter Sell on both Hieraceum and what was to become Sell and Murrell’s “Flora of Great Britain and Ireland” and Pugsley on Euphrasia [see image on left].  

"Probably the strength of these papers to current botanists will be his extensive taxonomic notes, drawings and often very outspoken correspondence with Francis Rilstone on Rubus taxonomy [see image on right] – this was clearly something of an emotive topic in the world of the Batologists of the 1950s and 1960s. 

"The notes, letters and drawings are very detailed and give considerable insight into the species concepts of the period and the differences between UK and Continental botanists.  On a lighter note, there are letters between Edees and H E Weber in Germany about the possibility of a European Batological Exchange Club and, for the biological recording buffs, some discussion on how to label tetrads in the pre-DINTY days. 


"It is a great pity that this kind of museum resource is so very rarely used and even the specimens themselves are infrequently consulted; the last time that a lot went out was for the recent County Flora and for the Hieraceum section of Peter Sell’s magnum opus. 

"In a county museum like this we don’t just have an herbarium so I thought that I would highlight the people who share the lab with me and the, similarly neglected, collections they work on  – so here (on left) is a picture of archaeologist Laura working on bones from a cave in the Manifold Valley and (below) arachnologist Sarah-Jane working on our spider collection".

Thanks for this, Martin. Interesting to have a glimpse into what goes on at Stoke Museum.

To see the images at a larger size - and to read the letter more easily - just click on the images.

If you also work on a botanical collection, whether paid or unpaid, in a museum or a university herbarium, why not send us a few words and an image or two? And do check out the NatSCA blog. We herbarium people should stick together - if we don't blow our own trumpets, I doubt if anybody else will!