Wednesday, March 9th
by Editor, Soiled and Seeded

A Different Kind of Flower Show


The floral festivities have begun as flower shows prepare to dole out inspiration, information and loads of botanical goods. They are marathon sessions for both gardener and exhibitor.

In this spirit, we thought we would introduce you to a different type of plant exposition.

Besides its sprawling gardens and scientific pursuits, the Royal Botanic Gardens in London is home to a fascinating collection of nearly 90,000 plant-based artifacts. Originally founded in 1847, the Economic Botany Collections contain both raw plant material and ethnographic items from around the world showcasing the diverse ways people use plants. The collection is part of Kew's Sustainable Uses of Plants Research Group.

Below we offer a small sample.
By rows: Japanese Lacquerware - A tray and medicine box with gold inlay. Toxicodendron vernicifluum, or the varnish tree provides the sap to produce lacquer. The tree is in the same family as sumac and poison ivy.

Bark cloth - A bark dress (Sandwich Islands) and jacket (Tanzania). Bark cloth was made soft by beating the inner bark of a variety of tree species within the mulberry or fig family.

Gourds - Sake bottle (Japan) and Pipestem (India). Gourds are close cousins to pumpkin and squash.

Paper products - Paper toy boxes (Japan) and paper hair ties (Japan), derived from the bark of paper mulberry.

You can find out more here. Kew is currently in the process of digitizing their entire collection.




Source: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


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