You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2009.

Through my rambling on the interwebz, found this great site by the illustrator Christoph Niemann. Words don’t describe the awesomeness of it so I’ll just give you the link.



So we had the last meeting for the term this afternoon at 1pm where we basically reviewed the society’s activities so far. Overall was a good first half, especially for  a society trying to get off the ground and get established. We ran through some ideas for after Christmas, and we seem to have some very good speakers lined up. One of the events planned is a live drawing with Susan Sex, whom I’ve blogged about before. She’ll sit down with us and go from plant to canvas in an hour. We also tentatively mentioned the Eden Project again. Because we’re a provisionally society, we don’t get a grant for Travel, so the trip was off the cards. Until now.

According to the CSC, we can use use money from another grant for this. This is definitely good news, and we’re  gonna start planning this. Final bit of news is the Earth Ball! In conjunction with the Geographical Society, Joly Society, Environmental Society and Zoological Society, we’re going ahead with the Earth Ball. The date is set for the 19th of February and will take place at the Guinness Storehouse. We’re still ironing out the ticket prizes, DJs, bands and a possible céilí! So keep an eye out for a poster goin up soon!

There won’t be any Botanical Society events until the New Year, but I’ll try and keep the blog updated with any haps in the plant world.

Not really botanically related, but stumbled across this while procrastinating in the library. It’s a study on the evolution of the PRNP gene in cannibals in Papua New Guinea. The South Fore people in the country have a tradition of consuming their deceased relatives at mortuary feasts. They are also plagued with a disease called Kuru, which is akin to the mad cow disease, leading to the degeneration of the brain tissue eventually leading to death. It seems, a variant of the PRNP gene has evolved in this these people which protects them against Kuru.

Okay, its not an ideal candidate for extolling the virtues of evolution to naysayers, but fascinating nonetheless!


Jerry Douglas at the BLT.

The Society kicked off it’s lecture series by a talk by Jerry Douglas titled The role of Biotechnology in Horticulture and Forestry on the 23rd of Nov. Dr. Douglas is the head of Research at Teagasc Research Centre, Kinsealy, with an interest in Ash and Sycamore. He is also heavily involved in the conservation of veteran trees in Ireland.

Survival of the original trees can be perpetuated and ensured by vegetative propagation through grafting them onto rootstocks or by rooting cuttings. The trees of interest are ash, sycamore, oak and elm. They can then be conserved at the original locations as younger copy-specimens. In addition, they can also be conserved in ex situ collections in public parks arboreta and private estates which would be willing to “host” a collection of veterans. Source

He went through some of the major developments in Biotechnology in recent years, touching on micropropagation and hybridisation as tools used by scientists and horticulturalists alike. Dr. Douglas gave an example of how his lab was called in to investigate dieback in ornamental Buddleia which was causing stunted growth in the plant. They later isolated 10 different bacteria living in the xylem vessels of the plant. When the plant was sterilised and grown in vitro without these bacteria, there was no  dieback,  which was then propagated as ornamentals.

The talk was definitely an engaging one with the interest gauged by the number questions asked in the end. These went from environmental  impact evaluation on newly propagated plants to the potential (if any) risks of genetically modified plants.
Overall it was a great talk, and would like to thank Jerry for taking the time for this.

The annual TCD Botanical Society pub quiz was held on the 18th of November. As our luck would have it, it was at the same time as the Ireland qualifying game with France. This however didn’t dampen the spirits of the quizgoers, who turned up in full force on the night. We kicked off (geddit) at 8pm, with a total of eight teams (correct me if I’m wrong) participating with more turning up and joining the teams throughout the night.

The questions ranged from General Science to some light Botanically related ones to an image round of celebrities who have some form of tree/plant in their name. Many thanks to Brian for sorting out the questions. There were six rounds of ten questions each, with the final round consisting of a cryptic word game of popplar (!) trees.

The first prize of €100 Stena Line vouchers, a bottle wine and chocolate was awarded to team Stephen Hawking Karaoke Machine, who finished the quiz with 55 out of a possible 60. This score had nothing to do with the fact that they had Prof. Mike Williams and Prof. Fraser Mitchell in the team!

The second prize was awarded to team France who scored 53 out of 60. They however didn’t have any eminent professors in their team so double kudos to them! They took home a bottle of wine and some chocolates. Many thanks to all the competing teams and the everyone who helped out on the night! Couldn’t have done it without you guys. Pics from the night follow.

Our annual Mushroom Hunt kicked off on the 17th of October. It was lead by Maria Cullen from the University of Limerick and a joyous time was had by one and all! The weather turned out to be in our favour surprisingly, so the attendees were more than eager to get down on their hands and knees to get up close with the mushrooms. Some pictures for your perusal.



The member’s reception was held on the 7th of October with resounding success. We were expecting a modest turnout but, the numbers on the night was quite overwhelming, and thanks to everyone who came and also to everyone who helped organise it. We had a good few signups on the night, as well as get people interested in the upcoming Mushroom Hunt.

It was a great night and once the ‘refreshments’ ran out at the receptions, the Botany Junior and Senior Sophisters made their way to the Pav, to continue their merriment into the night.

This was the first of many receptions we hope to run throughout the year, so stay tuned for more! Pictures from the night to follow!

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Rest assured the TCD Botanical Society is alive and kicking and we have some exciting events planned!