Since 1621, and the foundation of the Oxford Botanic Garden, Oxford has built up an outstanding collection of plant specimens, botanical illustrations and rare books on plant classification, collecting and plant biology. These archives, and the living plants in the Garden, are integral to the study of botany in the University.
Roots to Seeds profiles the botanists and collections which have helped to transform our understanding of the biology of plants over the past four centuries, focusing on plant classification, experimental botany, building botanical collections, agriculture and forestry and botanical education. Highlights include a selection of Ferdinand Bauer's renowned illustrations for Flora Graeca – an extraordinarily lavish and detailed eighteenth-century botanical publication of plants found in the Eastern Mediterranean – and rare plant specimens from the herbaria, such as Fairchild's Mule (the first artificially created hybrid plant).
Together with seventeenth-century herbals, elegant garden plans, plant models and fossil slides, these items from the archives all help to tell the story of botanical science in Oxford and the intrepid botanists who devoted themselves to the essential study of plants.
Stephen A. Harris is Druce Curator of Oxford University Herbaria.