Month: July 2012

The Museum Allotment in July

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There’s just enough left of July for me to post up a quick view of the allotment from the herbarium windows. The green roof is looking very, well, green, the purple peas are cropping nicely and the nasturtiums are trying for world domination.

We’ve also been harvesting potatoes – here’s the last of the earlies coming out. There’s still plenty of mint to go with them!

Summer bioblitzing in Whitworth Park

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I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who came along to help out at the bioblitz in Whitworth Park; we found a grand total of 95 different species which will all be registered with the local wildlife recorder as well as with Meet the Species 2012. Particular thanks must go to the Museum Youth Board for maning Sinclair the fox (the star of the show), helping with the recording and working on the new wildflower areas as well as to Lorna Davenport for all these great photographs of the day. We even managed to find one of the Whitworth Art Gallery’s honey bees exploring the flowerbeds in the sunshine.

The quality of Whitworth Park as an urban green space has recently been recognised and has now received a Green Flag Award for being safe and welcoming, having a great new play area and for creating new areas of biodiversity. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Returned Loan

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Just a little post about what I’m doing today: putting away liverworts from a loan to Colombia. 

So, 161 Anastrophyllum specimens were borrowed by Herbario Nacional Colombiano in 2009, and they were returned to Manchester a few weeks ago.

After updating their name changes on Ke Emu, our database, I filed them away.  Some of our liverworts are kept in boxes on herbarium sheets, and some are filed in filing cabinets.  They are all in taxonomic order.

Our liverwort collection is rich in Type specimens – a Type specimen is the first sample of a plant species to be described and published.  These samples are then preserved and documented for use in future research or comparison.  We frequently loan liverworts to researchers.

Above: a type specimen of Jungermannia boweri, collected in Jamaica in 1909 by F. O. Bower.  Our type specimens have a pink folder (not the usual white), sometimes a red dot, as seen above, and sometimes a ‘TYPE’ stamp in red.  This one also has a determination slip, written by a researcher, who writes ‘typus!’. 

The exclamation mark, in this case, means, ‘I agree!’ and not ‘Wow, its a type specimen!’


Perfumes from Ancient Egypt

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Choosing specimens to photograph: ingredients of fragrances thought to be used by the Ancient Egyptians.

From left to right: Galbanum, cinnamon, myrrh. Front: cardamom

Photographs of these may be chosen as part of our new Ancient Worlds Gallery, opening in October 2012.

Galbanum and myrrh are both types of gum resin, which comes from small trees growing in North Africa.  Both are strongly aromatic and often used in insense.  Cinnamon is from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree.

The  jars are from our Materia Medica collection.  There are previous blog posts about the Materia Medica Museum at the University of Manchester, and this one has more about myrrh.