This month I am cheating and choosing three objects for the price of one! Since we took responsibility for the University Herbarium a couple of years ago, we have constantly been unearthing new treasures. The archive volunteers have been working on two collections of objects which came to us with the Herbarium – a box of mounted, pressed flowers, collected by an unknown amateur botanist, and a set of hand-coloured botanical prints dating from the late 18th century. Comparing notes, the volunteers discovered the same plant represented in both collections.
The Gentiana verna, or Spring Gentian, is an alpine plant which is also found in the UK. Its flowers are an intense blue, which James Sowerby’s print portrays beautifully.
I decided to look at the Herbarium specimens to see if we had further examples of this plant. Sure enough, we had several. I’ve chosen a page of specimens collected by Thomas Clark in 1843, and Harold Stuart Thompson in 1903. The location in which the plants were found was Teesdale. That is rather interesting, since one of this plant’s common names is ‘Lucy of Teesdale’!