Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Zooming into the AGM and "What's in a Name"

We are feeling just a little pleased with ourselves that we held an enjoyable and successful virtual AGM at the weekend.  We swiftly dealt with the Committee business, electing Mags Cousins to Chair and Martin Godfrey to join the Committee; heard the annual report from outgoing chair John Handley, given by Sue Dancey; and the financial report also from Sue, which was all good in a nutshell.

John thanked committee members for their work, especially Hilary Wallace and Gordon Leel for the hardwork of producing the Newsletter, there is a snippet below from a previous edition.  Hilary is stepping down after the autumn edition, and Andrew Perry has agreed to become Editor.  We're always looking for more material and articles so if you have anything that you would like to submit, please email shropbotsoc@gmail.com.



After the AGM business was dealt with, we handed over to Mark Duffell of Arvensis Ecology, for an informative and entertaining talk with slides:

"What's in a Name"  A short romp through the science of naming the natural world. Through stories and quirky discoveries learn how plants (and animals) have been named and what their names mean, not all in Latin either!

It is remarkable how some old names given to plants have stood the test of time, whilst others were remarkably descriptive but rather long winded and have changed beyond recognition.   He tested us with this one, do you know this plant? Ignore the chat box, that won't help as Cowslips in cow pats were answers related to the previous slide - yes, he kept us on our toes:


Answer below:


Another quirky fact, a revelation to some in the audience was the penchant for naming plants after wives, friends and foes, and the use of anagrams.  Mitella (Bishop's caps) and Tellima (Fringecups), two different genera, anagrams of each other due to similarities in appearance:


One from the audience is what is behind the name Polypogon monspeliensis, Annual Beard-grass?


It turns out it used to be in the genus Alopecurus and monspeliensis is derived from Montpellier in France where it was discovered.  There were lots of other interesting stories behind plant names, far too many to mention here.  

Huge thanks to Mark for providing the evenings entertainment.  It was lovely to see everyone's little faces again, or just icons for those that were camera shy or simply didn't have enough band width!  Hopefully we will meet in person again before too long, but Zoom-ing together at least provided a chance to get together with fellow botanists and delve into botanical facts.  Thank you to everyone who joined us, including non member guests.