First there were rocks…

I am a botanist. I studied taxonomy, I learned all about plant ecology, I spent days looking at pollen grains under a microscope, I became a master of identification keys. Life made me deviate into horticulture, or shall I say, the art of understanding how to keep plants alive in cultivation. There is however one…

Borneo memories – Kinabatangan river

This blog post is going to feature a trip I made in 2010 to Borneo’s Kinabatangan river. What could prompt me to go so far down memory lane? The answer is a campaign launched on Twitter to save this Bornean biodiversity heaven from destruction. English naturalist & TV presenter Steve Backshall and his wife, Olympic champion rower Helen…

Plants in blue for Blue Monday

If you’ve spent five minutes reading the news yesterday, you have probably been unable to escape stories about the mysterious “Blue Monday“. “Blue Monday” is a rather poetic name given to the third Monday in January, deemed to be “the most depressing day of the year”. This claim is supported by a range of serious-looking…

When plants glow

A fascinating and relatively unknown topic that I chose to study for my BSc, iridescence is, in its simplest definition, an “optical phenomenon in which hue changes according to the viewing angle”. The most obvious example is a soap bubble, but it is also a very common feature in the animal world (such as for this Morpho butterfly). What about…

Plant Hunting in the 21st century

Last month, I attended a lecture on “Plant Hunting in the 21st century” at the Linnean Society in London. Organised by the Systematics Association, it was given by John Wood, Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford and keen plant collector. With Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace watching carefully, this could only be an interesting and controversial session….