Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Pint of Nature for St Patrick's Day

This St Patrick's Day, make yours a pint of nature. 

The Irish Forum on Natural Capital (IFNC) has created this infographic to illustrate just how important natural processes are in making a pint of beer, but the same logic applies to every commodity in our lives: from staples like bread and milk to luxuries like lipstick and laptops, nature is at the root of everything. 

So let's make it count!

Check out their website and find out what the IFNC are all about:



Happy St Patrick's Day !!

Posted: Jane Stout

Monday, March 16, 2015

Anna Atkins: Pioneering Botanist

Carix (America)
Today Google is celebrating  the 216th birthday of  Anna Atkins, botanist, with a special banner.  

Atkins is perhaps one of the most important pioneers in the use of photography in science, learning directly from Fox Talbot, she started taking images of plants as early as 1841 and was the first person to publish a book containing real images (Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions) in 1843.  

The image here shows one of her cyanotypes, an early form of photograph invented by her friend Sir John Herschel.  She went on to produce three volumes in the series.  Only 17 copies of the book in various states of completeness have survived, but her images are still widely available.  She died in 1871.

Posted: Nick Gray

Friday, March 13, 2015

Frost flowers

Courtesy of  RealBoyle.com
Many people contact the Department of Botany for help in identifying plants or for advice.  A recent enquiry from Majella O’Sullivan, the Southwest correspondent of the Irish Independent, was very interesting as it was about frost flowers.  She had some wonderful images of this phenomenon captured by a walker  in woodlands near Lough Key Forest Park in Co. Roscommon during January. Frost flowers form by ice being extruded from the pores of plant debris or soil.  The conditions for their formation have to be very precise, which is why they are rarely observed.  The air temperature has to be below freezing while the ground temperature is not. When these conditions occur  water, which expands when frozen, can be drawn out of the decaying wood through small fissures and pores by capillary action.  As this happens long thin filaments of ice form creating this phenomenon. 
Courtesy of  RealBoyle.com

Post: Nick Gray

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

International Fascination of Plants Day!

May 18th marks the 3rd International Fascination of Plants Day! 

Zoë  Popper is the National Coordinator for Ireland and she wants to get you involved. university/botanical garden. Please see the following pages for information on previous years eventshttp://fascinationofplantsday.org/and http://fascinationofplants.blogspot.ie/and please don’t hesitate to contact her at zoe.popper@nuigalway.ie if you’d like to get involved in any way.


Zoë  is also organising at the National level a photo competition. This is open to everyone in Ireland (the prizes are tickets to Bloom) so get clicking right now!


Post: Nick Gray