Thursday, 17 February 2011

Botanical Teaching Diagrams

These nineteenth century botanical teaching diagrams are part of an extraordinary collection in the archives at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. There large size meant that they could be seen by students from a distance in the classroom.

Linum usitatissimum L. 60 x 48.2 cm

Cross section of the ovary in fruit. The ovary has five cells, but a wall (septum) develops
in each cell, dividing it in two, the whole thus appearing 10-celled.

Myosotis alpestris F. W. Schmidt, 61 x 49 cm

A flowering stem. This shows an arrangement of flowers commonly found in the borage family: the scorpioid cyme (I love that phrase). Easily remembered by looking at the stem and noticing that the flower branches are curled like a scorpion's tail. Probably painted in 1870 by J. Sadler.

Diagram of leaf margins (edges), 60.8 x 47.1 cm

Serrate is with sharp teeth pointing forwards towards the leaf tip. Dentate is with sharp, outward pointing teeth and Crenate is with rounded teeth. The handwritten annotations at the bottom were made by J. H. Balfour. Pre- 1859.

(All information from 'John Hutton Balfour's Botanical Teaching Diagrams (1840-1879), Henry Noltie, 2000. An exhibition in Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.)

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