Latest science blog posts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Apr 262016
The Aneura Working Group meeting, Trondheim, 8th-12th February 2016

Sitting in Edinburgh airport on a Monday morning, waiting for David Long to join me, checked in through to Trondheim via Copenhagen, I felt completely unprepared. The previous week had been a fluster of lab work and reading DNA sequences, trying to get everything ready in time – a stressful Friday evening, trying to copy all […]

Apr 212016
Using DNA to investigate Giant panda diet

What do Giant panda eat?  The answer might seem obvious but the reality is far from simplistic. The diet of the Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is highly specialised on bamboo, but there are hundreds of different bamboo species and over 60 of them are eaten by Giant panda. The bamboo species consumed vary geographically and […]

Apr 072016

Just one of the amazing things about lichens is… You don’t have to go to a tropical rainforest, the Caledonian Forest or the far west coast of Scotland to see them, you can go on a lichen safari right here in Edinburgh and in all our urban environments. You’ve probably walked past hundreds of them […]

Apr 052016
Lichens & Air Pollution

Outdoor Air pollution Air pollution is a huge global environmental health issue, as recognised by the World Health Organisation.  The air quality in Scotland is generally very good, however in our cities we have ‘hotspots’ that regularly exceed national and EU limits for air pollution.  These limits are set because of the harmful impacts on […]

Apr 052016
Lichens - Making the Invisible Visible - An Air Pollution Survey

The idea formed quite early on in my TCV Natural Talent Traineeship based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh  to develop a specific tool kit to help people engage with the concept of ‘biodiversity leading to environmental & human well-being‘.  The ‘tool kit’ uses lichens as indicators of air quality to help us explore the […]

Mar 312016
Fern Conservation - Celebrating our Science and Horticulture throughout March for International Women’s Day

Protection of the habitat is a perhaps the most effective method of conservation of plant diversity, yet this alone cannot guarantee the survival of some of our most threatened species. Changing climate, the introduction of new predators or diseases, and many other factors can affect the survival of a small population. To best achieve success […]

Mar 182016
Discovering the Sapotaceae family

If anyone had asked me if I knew any plants belonging to the Sapotaceae family eight weeks ago, I would have had no suggestions – I probably wouldn’t have even been able to spell the word Sapotaceae! With around 1300 species, the tropical tree family Sapotaceae is incredibly diverse. From latex production to edible fruits […]

Mar 172016
The dodo tree and other stories

The Sapotaceae plant family provides us with some wonderful examples of the sometimes intricate interactions plants have with animals. One of the more intriguing cases is that of the so called dodo tree, or tambalacoque. Like many members of the Sapotaceae family the tambalacoque tree, known to botanists as Sideroxylon grandiflorum, is a tropical species. […]

Mar 172016
There's more to Marchantia than there used to be! An introduction to the new additions

One of the most recognisable groups in the bryophytes, the complex thalloid liverwort genus Marchantia, has just become a bit larger. We have sunk Preissia and Bucegia into it, because in molecular phylogenies they are both phylogenetically nested within Marchantia (Villarreal et al. 2015). Although this only adds two species to the genus (Preissia quadrata […]

Mar 162016
Another Sprig of Hope For Ash Tree? BIOCHAR ...

Archaeological studies have shown that, ‘Biochar’, or at least a similar product, was used by ancient Amazonians to add to the soil to help with their food growing. Today, an advanced form of Biochar is made from the slow charring of waste woody biomass, using a restricted oxygen supply (a process known as pyrolysis). A […]