Orchid Observers Talk

Interesting historical specimen

  • palaeosam by palaeosam

    I recently took part in the NHM visiteering, this specimen was one of the ones we were given in the study. Alas not much use to Orchid Observers due to lack of associated data but well worth a further look. Old, possibly not British.


  • kathcas79 by kathcas79 scientist

    Hi paleosam, thank you again for taking part in our Orchid Observers Visiteering day! Without locality or other data, this specimen is one we are not able to include in the Orchid Observers project but, as you say, it is an interesting historical specimen. It is likely Dactylorhiza maculata, described in one 1821 publication: ‘A Natural Arrangement of British Plants’ (Jussieu, De Condole, Brown) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TDc-AAAAcAAJ, with former taxonomic names listed as per Blackstone's handwritten label here.

    I've looked again at the sheet and I think it is likely to be part of the John Blackstone (London apothecary and botanist 1713-1753) collection transferred to the Natural History Museum in 1947 (Blackstone’s collections are considered one of the Museum's historically important herbarium collections). You may be interested in an article published in 2000 (http://archive.bsbi.org.uk/Wats23p39.pdf) which also describes this event:

    There is a collection of 44 plants (including 14 mosses and lichens) in the Sloane Herbarium, but in 1947 three volumes of Blackstone's plants, labelled by him, were discovered at Ripon Museum, Yorkshire. Not all the plants were localised and only a few were from Harefield. The collection was transferred to the Natural History Museum, where approximately 360 specimens were laid into the general herbarium

    Unfortunately, as is the case with quite a few historical specimens, without collection data it is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain provenance! Hope this helps, and the above is of interest.