Saturday 8 March 2014

Just nipping down to the Pubs, dear...

Pubs Secretary Chris Boon (on left) & Chair John Poland
Image: L. Marsh
The New Journal of Botany Editor-in-Chief Dr Richard Gornall and his Editorial Assistant (me!) headed off to BSBI Publications Committee the other week, to report on all things NJB and to try and make a useful contribution to other aspects of the Committee's work. 

We were also keen to find out about progress towards publication of several new BSBI Handbooks, currently at various stages of preparation. 

Paul Westley
Image: L. Marsh
The Committee ("Pubs" to it's friends and admirers) gives small grants to assist Handbook authors and also offers support and advice during the 2-5 years that it usually takes to prepare a Handbook. 

Great care is taken that those grants are allocated wisely, so we can keep adding new titles to the list of BSBI Handbooks - ones that we will all want to use for years, when IDing difficult plant genera. And with Pubs members like designer Paul Westley on hand, there was no shortage of helpful advice for our Handbook authors.

Trevor James, Paul O'Hara & Arthur Chater (l to r)
Image: L. Marsh
So, here are the latest updates on those Handbooks in the pipeline:

Mike Porter circulated samples of text from his forthcoming Viola Handbook and images of V. odorata var. praecox that made us all want to jump on a train for the south-west, where it is recorded. 

We also heard a progress report on illustrations for the forthcoming handbook on Oenothera Evening Primrose from Arthur Chater, herbarium guru, VCR and author of the fabulous Flora of Cardiganshire. 

Alchemilla minima
Image: M. Lynes
Euphrasia handbook? If you've been following the regular updates on this Blog about 'Which herbarium is Chris in?' then you already know as much about progress towards the Euphrasia Handbook as Pubs does. It's coming on very nicely, thank you!

Alchemilla Handbook: Mark Lynes reports that he is "writing up Alchemilla minima" and will be making a (self-funded) trip to Norway this summer to hook up with Scandinavian Alchemilla guru Stefan Ericsson and look at A. glabra and A. wichurae. 

Mark flagged up his concerns here in his initial pitch to Pubs about this Handbook, saying "Taxonomy-wise, the main issues as I see them revolve around A. glabra and A. wichurae, particularly the wichurae-like plants which currently reside within glabra".

 And if you aren't sure why this is remotely deserving of your consideration, try Sandy Knapp's brilliant video on why taxonomy matters here before you read Mark's tweet below: 

Norway trip will hopefully help me finally sort UK A.glabra & A.wichurae. Some UK stuff doesn't seem right. Hairs where they shouldn't be
Paul, Arthur, Trevor and Chris: Pubs in the pub
Image: L. Marsh
Lots to say about Handbooks this time, including those wayward hairs, so the latest news on New Journal of Botany will have to come in a subsequent post. 

I'm running out of space and there is so much to tell you about the six papers we've accepted for publication, and the gorgeous new cover that Claudia Ferguson-Smyth has produced for us: I think it's her best yet. 

But there's one final bit of news from Pubs that can't wait. Paul O'Hara from Summerfield Books (the BSBI booksellers) announced that their new website has just gone live! 

Richard Gornall (NJB)
Image: L. Marsh
Oi, hang on, finish reading this Blog before you head over there and start browsing the catalogue of new and second-hand botany titles and the separate handlenses section.

Summerfield also offer special discounts on selected books, but only to BSBI members[Psst, non-members: I had a quick peek behind the Green Door to the Members-only section and there are 37 titles in there right now, including 17 BSBI Handbooks, the famous Plant Crib and I also spotted the Wildflower Key, 2nd ed., (2006) on sale for £20 rather than the usual £25. Bargain!] 

John Poland and Mentha cf spicata
Image: L. Marsh
But after three and a half hours (!) in Committee, the customary post-Pubs craving for a pint and then some grub led us eventually to the memorable sight of John Poland, co-author of the celebrated Vegetative key to the British Flora, examining the mint leaf garnishing his pudding and wondering if he should send it off to Mentha referee Ray Harley for ID. 

Sadly, the voucher specimen never reached the plant press. Pubs does have a reputation to maintain and we weren't sure we could get away with a herbarium label that included: 
Locality: restaurant (Italian);
Habitat: plate (dessert); 
Associates: cream, sugar, eggs... 

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