Wednesday 16 October 2013

Memories of Peter Sell

Peter Sell in the Cambridge Herbarium
Image: T. Rich/National Museum of Wales
More BSBI botanists are sending in their memories of Peter Sell, who sadly died last week. 

Lynne Farrell, our Hon. General Secretary told me "I first met Peter when I was working in the Biological Records Centre at Monks Wood, and he wanted information on Hieracia (Hawkweeds).

"We went to the Brecon Beacons, to survey Craig Cerrig-gleisiad and Craig y Cilau, which was very enjoyable and I learnt to tell one Hieracium from another. 

"Peter was an excellent botanist and good at explaining things in the field." 

Chris Preston - no mean field botanist himself - also emailed to say "I learned a massive amount from Peter. 

Hieracium neocoracinum
Image: T. Rich/National 
Museum of Wales
"He had an amazing capacity for hard work, as shown by the account in Sell & Murrell's Flora of Great Britain and Ireland of his favourite genus Hieracium: 205 pages, including detailed descriptions of 412 species. 

On the other hand, hard work was always accompanied by laughter."

I think that sums up the pleasure that any BSBI botanist experiences going out in the field with a more experienced fellow member. 

You learn so much, store up ID tips and memories that stay in the mind for decades, and the data and notes you make can be useful to other botanists years afterwards. 

The image (left) shows Hieracium neocoracinum, one of the Hawkweeds of Craig Cerrig-gleisiad which Peter surveyed with Lynne.  

And below is the view of Craig y Cilau.

Craig y Cilau
Image: T. Rich/National Museum of Wales
Lynne concludes that her field notes from that trip to the Brecon Beacons "came in useful more recently when Tim Rich asked for information about the Hieracia found at these two sites."

Being part of a botanical community, where we enjoy spending time together in the field and helping each other improve our  ID skills, is the reason many of us joined the society and continue to pay our subs each year. 

And it's why we mourn the loss of those eminent botanists like Peter Sell. 

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