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Science News

2 Posts tagged with the hypericum tag

We introduced our new digital herbarium project in a previous post: with the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, we are moving 70,000 plant specimens temporarily to Picturae, a specialist company in the Netherlands, so that the herbarium sheets can be imaged in the most speedy and effective way. 


The images will then be sent to Suriname for transcription of the typed and hand-written information on the sheets into electronic form.  The information includes the species identification, the place and date of collection and often the collector, that can link to field notebooks and other resources. The images and data will then be accessible via online databases to scientists and conservation biologists and others for research and better understanding of plant distribution and biogeography.


This is what it all looked like as we packed up and got ready to go - not many people see this, so worth showing:


NHM_JAJ_DSC_7974.jpgThe NHM herbarium compactors



and the grey cupboards on the compactors



Jacek Wajer removing specimens of Dioscoreaceae (yams and related plants)



And wheeling them away on a trolley



Steve Cafferty preparing the transport boxes for the specimens



Jacek putting the specimens into the boxes



with colleague Jonathan Gregson



And Jonathan fitting the boxes onto the trolleys on which they will travel to Picturae in the Netherlands



More blogs to follow as the project progresses!  #DigitalHerbarium #NHM #Kew



@KewScience @NHM_Science




At the core of the Museum's scientific work lies taxonomy: the description, classification and naming of species.  This science is the foundation for all the biological sciences - if we cannot accurately describe the organism, the biological research that we do will not be reliable.  Species are essential concepts in describing diversity and exploring evolution - the Museum's collections and research centre on taxonomy, but integrate it with all sorts of other scientific approaches.


Taxonomy is published in the scientific literature in a number of ways - individual species results are published increasingly in short papers, sometimes online.  However, there is great value in ambitious works that cover whole groups of organisms - it allows all members of the group to be compared in a systematic way and new ideas and conclusions on diversity and evolution explored.


The final part of Dr Norman Robson’s Hypericum monograph was published in Phytotaxa. This an important monograph of a species-rich flowering plant genus; Hypericum (approximately 480 species) is one of 100 plant genera which together represent 22% of angiosperm (flowering plant) diversity. 


A genus is a classification group for a number of individual closely related species. Hypericum is a genus of flowering plant species that is worldwide in distribution and familar as a garden plant in the UK and some species have been used in the past in herbal treatments. (The name St   John’s Wort is commonly used for these plants.) A New Zealand species, Hypericum gramineum, is shown below.


Hypericum gramineum.jpg



The entire work comprises 1,247 pages in 11 parts, the culmination of 27 years of work and more than 50 years of research by Dr Robson on this genus. The editorial in Phytotaxa states that “The size of such genera means that complete monographic treatments to account for species diversity are time-consuming, costly and labour-intensive. Consequently, the species-level taxonomy of most such groups is poorly known [and this] presents a substantial barrier both to the goal of completing the global inventory and to understanding the evolution of the diversity they contain. Hypericum is now a notable exception to this problem”



Phytotaxa 4: 1258