sunflower

A Travelling Botanist: #WorldSoilDay

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Guest blog by: Sophie Mogg

I’m taking a break from my travels to celebrate world soil day. World soil day celebrates the importance of soil in our natural environment and contributes enormously to human well-being through providing a place to grow crops and supporting all walks of life.

In many parts of the world soil is now contaminated with heavy metals and radioactive elements as a by product of mining and various other human activities. This renders the soil unusable and unsuitable for feeding livestock, growing crops and restoring natural habitats. However there are many plants, known as hyperaccumulators, that are able to absorb these heavy metals through their roots, often concentrating them in their leaves. This process is known as phytoremediation. These metals can be retrieved from the plants by burning them, a process known as phytomining. By using natural hyperaccumulators we can reclaim those areas affected by mining and hopefully restore some natural habitats in the process.

Here are some of those wonderful plants from our collection, enjoy!

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The Museum Allotment in August

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It’s raining on the allotment volunteers again. Still, they’re a dedicated bunch and despite the drizzle, here they are this afternoon tidying up more nasturtiums, picking peas and finding hidden potatoes. We’ve now got some huge sunflowers planted up around the allotment courtesy of our friends at the Turing sunflower project at MOSI. This year Manchester mathematicians are hoping to study the spiral patterns visible in sunflower seedheads to see if the numbers match to the interesting Fibonnacci number sequence. Later in the Autumn we will be hosting sunflower spiral counting events. If you have  grown a sunflower this summer why not get involved with this huge science project?