Science

Pharmaceutical Botany
Pharmaceutical Botany – Part 1
Pharmaceutical Botany – Part 2

In these documents, Reg Harris has selected plants in or near Wellington Botanic Garden and highlighted human health conditions for which they offer therapeutic remedies. 

He has deliberately gone for ‘significant’ conditions that are common universally.

In line with his preference to show ‘how things work’, he has focused on situations where there is proven science regarding mechanisms of action.

He has restricted his choice to where these mechanisms can be expressed clearly by pictures or diagrams, either pulled from the internet or drawn by him.


Forest and Field
Forest and Field – Part 1
Forest and Field – Part 2
Forest and Field – Part 3
Forest and Field – Part 4
Forest and Field – Part 5

This five-part series kicks off with a look at the intriguing world of the ‘non-botanicals’, namely lichens and fungi. It highlights form, function and some interesting applications, and reminds us of the things that differentiate these organisms from plants.

The main plant groups [aka ‘clades’] are presented, with a special look at the oft-debated evolutionary positioning of monocots in relation to primitive dicots and modern eudicots.

Pollination and fertilisation mechanisms of gymnosperms and angiosperms are delved into. Some detailed [and beautiful] 19th century botanical drawings are used to help explain processes.

Mechanisms employed by plants for accessing the all-important nitrogen for growth are explained. The somewhat scary strategies employed by carnivorous plants to get hold of nitrogen sources are included. Viewers with delicate dispositions are urged to avoid looking at the images while alone.

The series takes a quick look at the evolution of the ‘seed habit’ and flowers. And it winds up with ways in which plants do harm to each other, and how ‘allelopathy’ is capitalised on in agricultural management systems.

Scientific names of plants in Wellington Botanic Gardens

Scientific names

Scientific names of plants, like those of all biological organisms, are binomial, comprising both generic and specific components. Their roots are usually Latin or Greek, but other roots such as German, Arabic and Sanskrit make their appearances.

In New Zealand Aotearoa the Māori name for a plant is in some cases used, in its original or derived form, as part of the scientific name. For example: Podocarpus tōtara.

Use of the names of people or inanimate objects is not uncommon. Sometimes these are ‘Latinised’, possibly to appear more scientific than they really are!

The slides presented here zero in on a number of plants in Wellington Botanic Garden that are familiar to many of us [or possibly not] and offer discussion about their scientific names.

The yellow-light system on the right-hand side of each slide proposes a ranking of the level of helpfulness for the scientific name in focus.

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