Phytophilia

The Legacy of Alexander von Humboldt

How much do you know about Alexander von Humboldt, one of the most influential naturalists in history? More species and plants are named after him than after any other human being, but in the last 150 years he's been nearly forgotten. Let's change that.
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The New Zealand Kauri

The New Zealand Kauri – Agathis australis – is a truly magnificent tree, revered in New Zealand by the native Maori and Europeans alike. The Kauri’s ancestors lived over 130 million years ago – making it one of the most ancient trees in the world! And the gargantuan trees can reach heights of over 160 feet tall and a diameter of over 66 feet across. The ancient Maori (native people of New Zealand) used Kauri wood to build boats, make carvings, weapons, and jewelry, and to build houses and public structures. The gum was used for many purposes as well, and the felling of one of these magnificent giants was usually accompanied by rituals. Having lived in New Zealand briefly, I was thrilled to discover that BRIT’s own herbarium has a specimen of one of these amazing trees! The specimen was col...
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The Unusual Binding of “Flora Sibirica”

As you look through the shelves in our rare book room, you see rows and rows of beautifully-bound books. They have bindings of leather and vellum, ornate embossed and gilded decorations on the covers and spines. Two volumes stand out: Flora Sibirca.
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Botanical Specimens with a Mysterious Past!

“Wow!” is the most frequent comment from visitors viewing the two oldest plant specimens in the BRIT Herbarium, both of which were collected by Dr. Thaddeus Haenke in 1791.
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Alexander von Humboldt and the Scientific Discovery of America

The work of one of the most important scientific explorers you've never heard of.
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Recycling Rocks!

Mixed-stream recycling is pretty amazing. We get to throw all of our recyclables into one bin, and then — POOF! — they magically get taken away and sorted elsewhere. No more icky sorting of paper from soda cans, milk jugs from mason jars! But have you ever wondered how the sorting ACTUALLY HAPPENS and WHO DOES IT?
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A Trip to Seville Farms

A couple of weeks ago, over half of the BRIT building was eerily empty for a day as the whole research department set off for a tour of Seville Farms, which is owned and operated by one of our board members, Billy Brentlinger. Seville Farms is a large-scale plant nursery providing annuals, perennials, and ground covers to numerous garden centers across Texas. The farms have five facilities containing over three million square feet! On this trip we visited the headquarters in Mansfield, Texas, and Billy and his right-hand-man John gave us an in-depth tour of the operations, start to finish.
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Frontera, Texas

It's 1852 in the newly-formed Republic of Texas. A devoted botanist collects a Cryptantha oblata specimen in the forgotten town of Frontera...
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My Time at Mile High

Hello! I wanted to share my experience in the Mile High City with all of you back home in the great state of Texas. I am currently participating in a year-long service program in Denver, Colorado, while I discern my path as an up-and-coming environmental scientist. My first couple days in Colorado were spent in the mountains. Amazing views! My service group, Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, is a nonprofit organization based in Denver dedicated to inviting young people into a process of transformation through companionship with those who are poor and marginalized. So what exactly does this mean? Essentially, the group functions similarly to a domestic Peace Corps, but with a spirituality component. While the program consists of 20 participants, I live with 9 in a home we fondly call COHO. We...
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Curtis’s Botanical Magazine

One of the treasures of BRIT’s rare book collection is Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, a premier journal for early botanical illustrations and descriptions. The journal has featured over 10,000 color illustrations in its 230 years of publication. Originally titled The Botanical Magazine, it is the longest running illustrated botanical periodical and is still being published today.
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