Latest Event Updates

International Women’s Day 2010

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Today is International Women’s Day.  To mark the occasion the museum organised a short lunchtime tour and talk celebrating the pioneering work of some women associated with the Manchester Museum.

We met in the reception area of the Museum where Anna Bunney, Curator of Public Programmes gave an introduction to the tour and talked about the history of women working in the Museum.  We then went upstairs to to the Manchester Gallery where the work of some of our pioneering female botanists is showcased.  Andrea Winn, Curator of Community Exhibitions, gave a great talk about why Lydia Becker, Kathleen Drew-Baker, Marie Stopes and Jessie Heywood were so important not just to the advancement of rights for women but also for their contribution to the advancement of science.

Finally we took the group up to the herbarium where I had laid out some more information and specimens collected by these women.  Here the group had the opportunity to see some specimens at close range and even handle some of the more robust objects.  The group seem fascinated and interested by the tour.  However, I was especially pleased when one Phd student told me how much she was inspired and motivated by the stories of these women.   I’m sure Jessie, Kathleen, Marie and Lydia would be delighted to know that their hard work is still having a positive effect on women of the 21st Century – thank you ladies!

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Unusual Trees to Look Out for (2)

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Pinus aristata (Pinaceae), Bristlecone (Rocky Mountain) Pine 165/026

Aristata means bristle-tip, referring to the cone segments.  The genus contains three species, including the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva, which is thought to be the oldest living tree in North America.  A ring count from a core sample gives an age of 4,700 years.  The third species is Pinus balfouriana, or Foxtail Pine.  All three are rare, and grow in the mountains of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and other western states.  It was introduced here in 1863; the oldest known dated British tree is at Kew.  It was planted in 1908 and in 1972 was 20’ x 1’-7”.  Our three photographs are of a specimen aristata in Wythenshawe Park, Manchester.

“It differs most conspicuously from the two other bristlecone pine species in that the needles usually have only one, (only rarely two) resin canals, and these are commonly interrupted and broken, leading to highly characteristic small white resin flecks appearing on the needles. This feature, which looks a bit like dandruff on the needles, is diagnostic of Pinus aristata; no other pine shows it.” –Wikipedia

Ancient Bristlecone pine at 3000m on Wheeler Peak in the Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Unfortunately, my digital camera can’t cope very well with chiaroscuro contrasts, but I can assure you the white flecks are copiously present on the Wythenshawe Park tree’s needles.

Grindon Herbarium sheet with history of discovery of P. aristata

-Daniel King

Herbarium Films 4

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Here are some more ‘behind the scenes’ videos from the botany stores.

In this first clip, Leander shows you round the area where the liverworts and fungi are stored.  Please excuse the boxes cluttering up this space – they are being temporarily stored here while some maintenance work is being carried out in the top tower room.  The clip ends with a trip upstairs to the mezzanine and the collection of mosses.

This clip shows where the majority of the European flowering plants are stored together with our collection of  exsiccatae (books of dried and pressed plant specimens).

Herbarium Films 3 – The Library

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In this clip Leander shows you our secret library, hidden behind the cupboards of lichens and crytogams.  All the books in the herbarium library were catalogued onto the John Rylands University Library database and are searchable through their website.  The books are available for consultation and reference and can be viewed, by appointment, at the museum’s Resource Centre.

Herbarium Films 2

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Here are some more short videos shot in the herbarium.

This first clip is taken in what we refer to as the British corridor, although in truth it has more boxes of European flowering plants than British (we do have another corridor referred to as the European corridor which contains exclusively European flowering plants).

In this second clip Leander shows where the Leo Grindon and Algae collections are stored, and shows some examples of interesting specimens from those collections.

Herbarium Films 1

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Over the past week we have been very busy making a series of films to show you behind the scenes of the herbarium at The Manchester Museum.  Although we admit the clips are far from professional, we do feel they have a certain charm…

Leander introducing the herbarium and showing off some of our Charles Darwin specimens.

Leander introduces Charles Bailey, Cosmo Melvill and Leo Grindon – the three main contributors to the herbarium’s collection

Lindsey’s February walk

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A bright, icy cold morning set the scene for my February walk at Etherow Country park, Stockport.  If you’re new to the herbology blog, I pledged to enjoy the seasons changing by going for a walk every month as part of  2010:International Year of Biodiversity.

Part of the lake was frozen so the ducks were all huddled up at one end.   There were lots of people out enjoying the chilly day and children chasing over the bridges at the far end of the lake.  We found spring green shoots of daffs pushing their way up through the frozen soil.  Spring is on its way!

Etherow Country Park was the first country park.  The webpage tells us it was “established in 1968 around an old cotton mill, the park has steadily grown in size and popularity and now attracts over a quarter of a million visitors every year.

“Etherow Country Park is rich in wildlife. The park is home to over 200 species of plants and more than a hundred species of birds have been recorded here.  The park has its own nature reserve which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.  The wide variety of habitats within the park allow an abundance of wild plants to thrive here. With the exception of mid-winter, plants are easily spotted throughout the year. Look out for flora such as Dog’s Mercury, Wood Anemone, Hedge Woundwort and Common Spotted Orchid, among many others.

Etherow Country Park is certainly worth a visit:

http://www.marple-uk.com/community/etherow2.htm