We are delighted to be taking part in the sixth international ‘Fascination of Plants Day’ – launched by plant scientists across the world under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).
We hope you enjoy the films below which explain why plants are so fascinating to us – whether they’re for scientific research, conservation or for general enjoyment and inspiration. Discover more about our role as a Botanic Garden – what we do and why; hear about some of our star plants or take a virtual trail.
We will also be holding a live Q&A with our Director, Beverley Glover on Tuesday May 18 where she will be explaining how and why plants make colour.
For fascinating facts about plants in our collection, follow our Learning team on twitter who will be tweeting throughout the day.
How and why do plants create colour
CUBG Director, Prof Beverley Glover explains the mechanisms plants use to create colour, why some colours are more common than others and how some plants can create colour without using pigments as well as the reasons why – from absorbing harmful radiation to attracting pollinators and the clever tricks they use. In this Facebook live, Beverley answers these questions and live questions from our Facebook followers.
Beverley’s main area of research at Cambridge University’s Department of Plant Sciences is in the evolution and development of floral features which attract pollinating insects. The living collection at the Botanic Garden underpins her research group’s work.
Who we are, what we do and why
Cambridge University Botanic Garden is one of the largest University-owned botanic gardens in the world.
Hear from the Garden’s Director and Head of Horticulture about some of the 8,000 plant species which are spread across 40 acres of gardens; how the Garden supports University research towards meeting many of the world’s greatest future challenges (such as food security, climate change) and how the Garden inspires schools, the local community and visitors from around the world about the importance of plants, plant science, horticulture and the joy of gardening.
The role of a Botanic Garden and our Collection Strategy
Our Director Beverley Glover and Curator Sam Brockington, explain about our role as a botanic garden, the challenges we face (such as food security and climate change) and why research into plants is so crucial in helping tackle these issues.
Take a virtual tour
A behind the scene springtime exploration with Head of Horticulture, Sally Petitt
See what’s in season, what’s in bloom and travel with us behind the scenes in this exploration-themed film to visit our private reserve houses, where plants are nurtured for the display houses. We venture from continent to continent, hearing about plants collected by explorers from the past, as well as more recent botanical and scientific discoveries. See also our ‘baby’ titan arums, the popular Jade Vine and the recently flowered Moonflower in our Glasshouse Range which is currently closed to the public.
A tour of the Glasshouse Range with Glasshouse Supervisor, Alex Summers
Alex Summers, our Glasshouse Supervisor tours the various houses of the Glasshouse Range, with some rare and surprise blooms including the Jade Vine, the foul smelling mottled Dutchman’s pipe, the Sacred lotus which is being used in plant science research and many more Glasshouse delights.
Meet some of our star plants
In February, we flowered our Moonflower for the first time. It was witnessed by over 400,000 people across the globe and was the first flowering in the UK.
We recorded a Q&A session with the public live from the flowering with our Director Beverley Glover and Glasshouse Supervisor Alex Summers.
In 2017 we flowered one of our Titan arums which is an endangered species. Conserving and learning about endangered species such as the Titan Arum are vital aspects of our work at the Botanic Garden and we have since raised 160 ‘babies’ from the successful pollination of this plant. Find out more about our amazing Titan arum flowering.
Our former trainee Emily talks about growing the Victoria cruziana (Santa cruz water lily), a tropical species of flowering plant, native to South America.
Jade Vine and other Glasshouse favourites
See some plant stars of the Glasshouse Range including the incredible Jade Vine!
Plant Science talks
How do plants grow – the mechanics of plant development
Dr Sarah Robinson’s lab team at Cambridge University’s Sainsbury Laboratory (SLCU), study the physical changes that occur during plant growth using a small robotic device which enables precise forces to be applied to living plant tissues. This robot is attached to a confocal microscope so the team can visualise the gene expression in the cell at the same time as applying forces. This enables them to relate gene expression and cellular events with the changes in physical properties associated with growth.
This talk was filmed for our Science on Sundays series 2020. View more Science on Sundays talks or follow our 2021 Science on Sundays series.
Why Don’t Bananas Have Seeds?
This talk by Department of Plant Science’s Dr Elina explains why bananas do not have seeds and how they can make offspring.
She discusses plant genetic information, or the blueprint instructing plants how to grow and make roots, shoots, flowers, fruits and seeds. Dr Elina talks about how plants pass this blueprint on to their offspring, and about how basic science informed applied research to create seedless watermelons, apples and grapes.
View more plant science talks here.
Meet a selection of plants which form part of our living collection which have inspirational back-stories. Starting with a plant aptly named ‘Ray of Hope’, we will take you on a virtual tour around the world to celebrate the plant conservation work being undertaken in far flung places and also closer to home.