Take apart a flower.

Introduction Springtime is when nature appears to come back to life after winter. The trees grow new leaves, the grass turns green, and the flowers spring up, often with beautiful colours and a pleasant scent. Have you ever looked at a particular flower? What are the parts of flowers? Are all flowers the same? This … Read more

Hibbert’s flowers, Hitler’s beetle and Hibbert’s flowers – What do you do when species are named for historical monsters?

  The rose we call a rose by another name would smell just as sweet.” However, like the Montagues or Capulets, names can be very important and cause great heartache. My colleagues and I are taxonomists. This means that we name living things. Although we have never named a rose, there are many Australian species of … Read more

We have revealed the genetic secrets of the Waratah, helping to preserve this Australian icon.

  After the Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20, smoke was cleared from the area surrounding the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah. An NSW Waratah, Telopea speciosissima, was among the victims. It had just become the first species to have its genome sequenced. This genome has been published in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources. The Waratah, a stunning red flower … Read more

Sacred Datura: Photos from a Beautiful, But Poisonous Plant

It is a member of the Solanaceae (the Nightshade Family), and it contains both species of great agricultural value (tomatoes (eggplants) and highly poisonous species. There are nine species in the Datura genus, covering both tropical and temperate regions. The Hindu term “dhatura”, which means “thorn apples”, is the root of the word “datura”.  Dangerous … Read more

Life with flowers in a vase

  Although few people recognized her name, the people I spoke to were willing to call her painting, Still Life with Flowers in a Glass Vase of 1716, a “great work of art.” Why is it that Ruysch’s talents as a woman artist are not more widely recognized? Partially, this can be attributed to a … Read more

Remembrance, flowers and the art of war

  Flowers were part of women’s culture. They represented beauty, femininity, and innocence. This changed during the first world conflict. They gathered flowers from the battlefields, dried them, and used the wildflowers as themes for their paintings and photos. Blue cornflowers, red poppies, and other flowers showed the fragility and beauty of life. Paul Fussell, … Read more