Tuesday, 19 February 2013

"Natives good, Aliens Bad?": part 2

Ian Bennallick has sent a link to an amusing Radio 4 programme he heard, "The Botanical Vicar", about Reverend Shaw,  aka the 'Weed King of the North'. The programme is up on iPlayer here until the 25th of February and is a nice reminder of how much fun it can be "finding exotic and unusual plants at rubbish tips, factory dumps, sewage treatment sites and other unlikely places". 

The Reverend Shaw apparently relished "botanical foreign invaders, mysteriously appearing from the Middle East, the Americas or Eurasia" - so I guess we know where he would have stood regarding "Natives good, Aliens bad"! 

If you spot anything on TV or radio that you think might interest other botanists, send me the link - mail to publicity@bsbi.org.uk - and I can post it here on the Blog. Thanks for sharing this one, Ian.  

Thursday, 14 February 2013

BSBI's Publications Committee  met yesterday for its twice-yearly overview of all the material published by the society, whether in print or electronically.

Pubs members weighing up proposals
 for new BSBI Handbooks.
BSBI Floras and handbooks - proposed, in prep or on the wish list - were discussed, including handbooks on Viola and Euphrasia. Editors of New Journal of Botany, BSBI News and the BSBI Yearbook gave an account of their publications and there was a short report on Publicity & Outreach; this new Blog got a big thumbs-up from the Committee, especially from Gwynn Ellis, BSBI's Membership Secretary and General Editor of BSBI News.

Gwynn has been a huge supporter of our publicity and outreach initiatives since they were first proposed, and so the only dark cloud yesterday was that it was Gwynn's final "Pubs". He is cutting back on some of his many responsibilities to focus on his work as Membership Secretary and also on the distribution of BSBI News; members should keep sending their contributions in to Trevor James (Receiving Editor).

Gwynn’s final “Pubs” dinner: from left,
Philip Oswald, John Poland, Trevor James,
Gwynn Ellis and Arthur Chater.
Pubs members went out for dinner after the Committee meeting and raised a glass or two to Gwynn. We were helped in this by Mary Briggs, BSBI President 1998-2000. Unable to attend in person, she sent a lovely letter with memories of working with Gwynn and kindly paid for wine, so that we could toast our friend (beaming, as always, in the photo on the left) and offer deepest thanks for all he does for our society. 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Natives Good, Aliens Bad?

 We can hear David Pearman challenging this preconception on Radio 4 this week. David was interviewed for 'Costing the Earth', going out on Tuesday 12th February, at 3.30 pm and Wednesday 13th at 9.00pm, and then on iPlayer.

The programme is called 'When Nettles attack!' and David will be helping Tom Heap investigate how domestic invasive plant species, including nettles, brambles and bracken, are "threatening the British countryside by choking other native plant growth".

They visited Goss Moor National Nature Reserve which we hear is "over-run by willows, gorse, brambles etc. with small discrete patches of alien plants!" Both Ian Bennallick, BSBI's Recorder for East Cornwall, and Natural England Reserve Warden, Phil Bowler, joined David at Goss Moor and Tom later interviewed some other notable botanists, including Andy Byfield of Plantlife and Matthew Oates of the National Trust. It will be interesting to hear what they all have to say about alien and native plants.

As co-editor of our 'New Atlas of the British & Irish Flora' and a very popular former BSBI President, David's views are always incredibly well-informed and the 'Pearman style' is distinctive - he clearly loves presenting evidence that challenges our preconceptions about native vs alien plants - so this is definitely one for the diary.

Let me know what you think about the programme and David’s comments – post a comment below:

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Essence of Bluebell?

A few people have asked about research that was carried out into the scent of native bluebells, as featured on "Wild Things".  There's a nice piece by presenter Trevor Dines on the Plantlife Blog, mentioning the research team at Bangor University. Maybe we'll see the results published in New Journal of Botany, BSBI's scientific journal? It would be fitting, as for many years the bluebell was BSBI's emblem. The logo we have now is a stylised version, but I think you can still detect some "essence of bluebell" in there - do you agree?

 How many dandelion species do we actually have in Britain and Ireland? There are 232 listed in Sell & Murrell, and two new ones have been described recently in our scientific journal, New Journal of Botany.

I've been reading through proofs of BSBI's Plant Records, due to appear in the April issue of New Journal of Botany. We have some new records of rare dandelions which BSBI members have found in the UK, like this one (left) recorded and photographed by BSBI member Claudia Ferguson-Smyth.

Claudia also took the image at the head of this page during a BSBI meeting at Kindrogan, Perthshire.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Great to see that BSBI has just released this year's programme of field meetings. In vc55, the local BSBI group is already discussing car-pooling to attend a few of them.

Meetings marked 'Beginners' or 'Training' are a great way to sharpen or acquire ID skills with a bunch of botanical friends. BSBI's unique mixture of beginner and expert, amateur and professional, means we all enjoy botanising together and sharing what we know.

We had such a great BSBI meeting at Rutland Water last summer - thanks to Maggie Crittenden for taking this photo of us comparing Bidens cernua with B. tripartita. 

The BSBI's new Publicity & Outreach Blog.

 In 2013, BSBI is looking at better ways of sharing information across our networks and keeping all our botanical friends in the loop, so this new Blog has been set up by me (BSBI's Publicity & Outreach Officer)  to complement our Co-ordinator's Blog and to keep you updated on what our BSBI botanists, from beginner to expert, will be doing across Britain & Ireland throughout 2013.

Our members (almost 3,000) will be out studying, enjoying and promoting our wild plants, and recording changes in their distributions. This kind of information underpins all nature conservation work in Britain & Ireland. The P&O Blog will help us show you what's going on, why you might be interested and how you can get involved or find out more.

BSBI also has some great resources to offer if you are keen to improve your botanical skills, or find out what grows where, and our network of local BSBI groups is growing rapidly. With the new map on the homepage, you can find out if there is a local group near you offering field meetings or training opportunities. Contact local co-ordinators with your requests - whether you are a journalist looking for local interest stories or a botanical beginner keen to  find out more about wildflower ID. Or email me for more info.

Some local groups are also setting up their own Blogs: Sarah Stille has an excellent one and there is a new  Blog being trialled for the BSBI vc55 group

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Interesting comment from Jane Perrone, Gardening Editor at the Guardian, on "Wild Things". She describes the programme as "Top Gear for plants"!
Seen on an excellent Blog by Susanne Masters