Latest science blog posts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

May 212015
Sutherland kale and the Triangle of U

An internet search for Sutherland kale produces quite a lot of hits. This leafy brassica seems to be a bit of a sensation among foody types looking for something a bit different. Apparently the best way to eat it is to steam the flower spikes before the buds open. They look like a rather spindly […]

May 212015
Nepal: Awards for research and outreach programmes

The devastating earthquakes which hit Nepal on 25th April and 12th May along with the many significant aftershocks have focussed our attention on the immediate needs of the people of the country but RBGE has a long term research and outreach programme centred on Nepal, working closely with both governments and the Nepalese diaspora in […]

May 112015
Air pollution & nutrient enrichment

Some sites are very quick to survey.  Unfortunately this isn’t a good thing.  It’s quick only because there are literally NO LICHENS to survey. Trees surveyed in this area are bare of lichens probably due to both historic and current high levels of air pollution, which negatively effect the natural distribution of lichens. In the […]

Apr 172015
The magnificent axillary hairs of Leptobryum wilsonii

What sorts of features provide the best clues about whether or not two plants are closely related? Sometimes it’s obvious – most people can correctly recognise a daffodil (Narcissus) by its general appearance, even if individual species vary a lot in shape, size and colour. That’s because the combination of six coloured sepals and a […]

Apr 152015
The name changes but the plant remains the same...

A recently published nomenclatural paper in the Nordic Journal of Botany looks like a precursor for the tranfer of Pulsatilla (Pasque Flowers) as a genus to a section within the genus Anemone. It has been known for a while that a number of well known genera like Pulsatilla and Hepatica are so genetically close to […]

Apr 152015
Cars, lorries, planes, buses and lichen surveying

  With the help of the brilliant Lothian Buses journey planner I travel by bus today. Surely it’s one of the hottest days of the year so far.  Arriving at my destination, Queensferry Road, Edinburgh, the intense warmth of the sun is being reflected back at me from pavements, buildings, walls, cars and bus windows. […]

Apr 152015
Pollution and Pests?

Regularly hitting moderate levels for pollution, as monitored and recorded by the 91 Air Quality Monitoring Stations that are situated across Edinburgh and the central belt of Scotland, I knew that Salamander Road in the north-east of the city was not going to be a biodiversity hotspot for lichens. Now my remit is to survey […]

Apr 152015
Once is not always enough

Some sites you just have to visit twice.  Unexpected hail and snow blizzards when surveying are just part of the course, but add strong winds to that, and coldness that freezes your fingers so you can’t even hold a handlens up to the lichens you’re trying to identify and the will to battle on dwindles. […]