Latest Event Updates
The botany staff will be supporting the Panama wildlife evening showing a selection of plant species from Panama, as well as talk about the City Nature Challenge 2019 – coming to both Panama City and Greater Manchester soon!
In today’s Story From the Museum Floor, after spending a week with us on a work experience placement, high school student Kipp Money-Muter shares some of his impressions of Manchester Museum.
For more about how you can get involved at the museum have a look at our website.
A Week at Manchester Museum
Museums are places that accumulate and share knowledge in an attempt to encapsulate in their displays what has happened on this planet in its long history. Manchester Museum is no different. If you have ever visited then you will know how breathtaking it is on every floor, from ‘Stan’ the T-Rex downstairs to a recording of U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent out into space with the Voyager spacecraft in 1977 on the top floor. Each display has something you can learn from and educate yourself on – I think this is the main reason why it…
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By Eirini Antonaki
The herbarium of Manchester itself is a collection of some 750,000 specimens of preserved plants. Most are in the form of pressed specimens on flat sheets. Some are in small packets such as the mosses and lichens and some are even 3D e.g. our collection of fruits and seeds. Apart from them it has also books, plant illustrations , slides projector, microscopic slides, plant models and many more to explore.
Finally something that you can’t miss is our brand new modern greenhouse. You should definitely check out!
The Greenhouse is a hidden gem, located on the third floor of Manchester Museum. It accommodates plants from all over the world in an artistic installation that has been realised with the collaboration of Nonsense_indoor_plants , Jeanette Ramirez founder of The Clorofilas (@Theclorofilas) and our Curator of Botany Rachel Webster.
It is next to Sylvia’s study room, which is a multi purpose room near the new third floor cafe. What a wonderful idea to study or have a meeting with a view of ferns, cacti and tropical plants in the middle of the winter in Manchester!
Want to see more about the Greenhouse?
Then you can follow our instagram profile @mcrmuseumgreenhouse and you can upload your own photos with the #mcrmuseumgreenhouse.
#AdventBotany 2018, Day 20: Once upon a time: A tale of fairies from the RHS herbarium — Culham Research Group
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By Yvette Harvey I am still pondering why a pagan spirit of the dead, or, more recently a demoted angel, should play such a big part in Christmas – for Christmas certainly wouldn’t be the same without a fairy at the top of the tree or strings of fairy lights illuminating more than you thought…
With five previous years of Advent Botany I was surprised that none of us have so far covered coffee. OK, it’s not a Christmassy spice, or a festive decoration, but by this time in the year I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling more than my usual need for this botanical pick-me-up. As we approach the shortest day of the year a good cup (or several) of coffee is pretty much all that’s keeping me from attempting to hibernate.
Not only that, but as this snippet from the magazine ‘The Hospital’ from January 1889 suggests, there is also coffee’s reputation for counteracting the effects of alcohol. Although, rather than allowing people to deal with the morning after the night before, this article also seems to suggest that if people can get their hands on good coffee, then they won’t bother drinking the alcohol in the first place.
Caffeine is found in several other plants such as tea and kola, but it is coffee that has earnt the reputation as the go-to drink for keeping us alert. In nature, caffeine has a protective function, deterring insect grazing through its bitter taste and toxic properties. It is found in all parts of the coffee plant, including the leaves, and in high concentrations in very young seedlings, but of course it is the roasted beans that we prepare for the drink. Coffee ‘beans’ are seeds which come in pairs in small fruits which turn red as they ripen. Known as cherries, the fruits are described botanically as called drupes. These are thin skinned fleshy berries with a hardcoated seed inside (much like an actual cherry, olives or dates) but coffee is a little uncommon for having two seeds rather than the more usual single seed.
Coffee is in the Rubiaceae, a diverse family including herbaceous plants such as the dye plant madder (Rubia tinctorial) and the quinine-producing Cinchona trees used for flavouring tonic water. The genus Coffea contains over 120 species of shrubs and small trees with opposite pairs of glossy dark green leaves and jasmine-scented flowers. Despite this, there are few species which are used commercially. Coffea arabica and C. canephora account for almost all the world’s coffee production with C. liberica coming a very distant third.
C. arabica originates in Ethiopia and was the first coffee to be cultivated. Now it is considered the gold-standard of coffee, less bitter and less acidic than other species. It is the most widely grown, accounting for the majority of worldwide coffee production and Brazil is the biggest single exporter. However, C. canephora (known as robusta) is easier to grow and higher yielding. Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of robusta, after the French smuggled the plant in to the country in the 19th century. The beans contain twice as much caffeine as arabica and produce a more bitter, earthier-tasting coffee. Robusta is particularly used for the production of instant coffees, and is also added into coffee blends (such as Italian expresso) as it is said to produce a better crema on top.
Well, looking out all these objects from the herbarium has given me a bit of a thirst, so I think it’s probably high time I stopped for a coffee break and sampled the blends at our new Museum cafe (perhaps with a little mince pie on the side). Anyone ready to join me?
#AdventBotany 2018, Day 19: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; a spot of medieval Advent Botany — Culham Research Group
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By Alex Mills So, it’s Christmas time. You’re having a bit of food with your friends and family. Well, a lot of food. It’s Christmas, isn’t it? It’s all very convivial and jolly and all that. Suddenly, there’s a commotion at the door. A big chap has come in. He’s on a horse. He’s a…
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By Dawn Bazely Dawn is one of our long-standing contributors and has contributed: poinsettias, cranberries, red-osier dogwood, amaryllis, white cedar, balsam fir, paperwhites, ivy, candy cane chrysanthemums, and less traditional plant species associated with the British festive season, such as arctic cotton grass and willow, and gourds. This year, to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of…