Thursday, 27 April 2017

Promoting herbaria during Plant Facts Week

Clive Stace in the Herbarium,
University of Leicester, 2014
Image: L. Marsh
This week, the Annals of Botany Blog (or AoBBlog to its friends) is running a #PlantFactsWeek and they contacted BSBI to ask for a contribution. The brief was to answer the question, how can you use online herbaria to learn about plants? 

Now, anybody who knows a bit about BSBI will be aware of Herbaria@Home, one of the original crowd-sourcing projects, set up over a decade ago with the aim of getting lots of volunteers to digitise herbarium specimens so they would be available to all. 

And anybody who is familiar with this News & Views blog may remember the series of posts called 'Which herbarium is Chris in this week?' 

Chris Metherell and Eyebright specimens,
in the Herbarium,
University of Leicester, 2014
Image: L. Marsh
This series ran several years ago when Chris Metherell, BSBI's Hon. Gen. Sec. and County Recorder for North Northumberland, started on the research for his forthcoming BSBI Handbook on Eyebrights. He visited herbaria across Britain and Ireland in pursuit of specimens and, knowing that I shared his passion for these botanical treasure troves, was kind enough to send me numerous photos and reports. Just type 'Metherell' or 'herbarium' into the search box below right and you'll see what I mean! 

So, I got in touch with Chris about the invitation from AoBBlog and we collaborated on an article which was published earlier today. We covered Herbaria@Home, as requested, but I couldn't resist talking more generally about why I love herbaria and Chris tells us how he has used them over the years and how they helped him as he worked on the Eyebright Handbook which, you'll be glad to hear, is getting very close to publication.

Click here to read the article in full. Many thanks to Ian and Anne at AoBBlog for giving me and Chris a chance to talk about one of our favourite subjects - herbaria, both virtual and actual!