Plant hunting...we're back!
After just over 3 weeks out in the field in Italy, we are now settling back into our daily routines here at Westonbirt.
The last portion of our trip was spent in the north east of the country, primarily to collect some of the European conifer species that grow in this area. We were working with staff from the Corpo Forestale dello Stato and as in the south, we benefitted from their encyclopedic knowledge of the native flora.
Collecting highlights here included Scots pine, Abies alba and Pinus mugo, all of which are currently important species here in the landscape at Westonbirt, though the vast majority of these are of no known origin. Our collections are significant as these plants will help inform us as to how Italian examples of these species will perform in our climate.
In total, we made 77 collections, 16 of which were also for the Millenium Seed Bank. Though we didn’t quite manage to collect everything on our target plant list (that’s nature for you!), strong connections were made with our Italian colleagues and we are well placed to explore further collecting options in the future.
For all of us, the experience was one that will remain with us forever. We were treated to incredible hospitality throughout and without our Italian colleagues; none of this would have been possible. To marvel at these plants in their native habitat is of course incredible and to collect seed that will become trees in the collection here at Westonbirt is truly special. We are looking forward to it!!