Latest science blog posts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

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. […]

Apr 012015
Sutton's vasculum of grasses and seeds

A conversation in the canteen about a 19th wheat specimen from Nepal led on to Henry Noltie asking if I had seen the amazing box of grasses. The box was part of an educational range of display material of  grasses, cereals and insects “injurious and benificial to farms and garden crops” produced by Suttons Seeds […]

Mar 312015
Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour (1853-1922)

Born on the 31st March 1853, the son of John Hutton Balfour who was Regius Keeper at RBGE between 1845 and 1879, Isaac Bayley Balfour grew up up in very close contact with the Botanic Garden.  Educated at Edinburgh University, he became its first Doctor of Science (with First Class Honours), for a thesis inspired by his role as […]

Mar 302015
Exterminate, exterminate! – a portal into another world

I’m heading to a new part of town to find my next air quality monitoring station and to spice up the journey I take a route suggested by Cycle Streets –a brilliant online city cycle route planner. I find myself trundling along one of ‘Britain’s best cycle rides’ – a journey along the 35 mile […]

Mar 302015
Air quality monitoring  - a view from the inside

Today as part of my survey on lichens as indicators of air quality we head out of the city to the foot of the Pentlands, well almost. Bush Estate. We are looking for a cleaner air site and there, in the middle of a field somewhere is one of the 91 air quality monitoring stations […]