Thursday 8 November 2018

Botanical anachronism #1

Last weekend Jonathan Shanklin, BSBI's Field Meetings Secretary and joint County Recorder for Cambridgeshire, was in Edinburgh for the Scottish Botanists' Conference. Relaxing in his hotel room afterwards, Jonathan decided to watch a little television and opted for ITV's Grantchester, set in 1950s Cambridgeshire. 

Jonathan was only eight minutes into the programme when he spotted a botanical anachronism - and again twelve minutes in - and again fifteen minutes in - and a minute before the end of the programme! Characters were shown by the River Cam at Grantchester and there in the river behind them were rafts of Floating Pennywort. 

BSBI distribution maps, which show where plants are recorded over time across Britain and Ireland, will explain why Jonathan immediately called this a botanical anachronism. The first map shows distribution of Floating Pennywort up to 1969 and the second shows the same plant's distribution now. That's right - there was no Floating Pennywort in the Cam in the 1950s! This invasive plant was not recorded in the county until 2003. Jonathan's photo (above right) was taken at almost the same place that the TV programme was filmed - click on it to enlarge and see those rafts of Floating Pennywort.

Have you spotted any botanical anachronisms on TV or in films? If so, please let us know. This could be the start of an occasional series of wildflower howlers!    

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