Antiques Roadshow shines a light on Botanics' rare Darwin specimen
A botanical specimen collected by Charles Darwin and preserved at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is one of the rare objects examined by Fiona Bruce in this week’s episode of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.
The gentian Gentianella magellanica, was collected by Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory, as he voyaged around South America on the HMS Beagle in the 1830s. One of 80 Darwin specimens now conserved as part of the research institute’s Herbarium collection of three million preserved plants and fungi, it is still a valuable source of data for RBGE and scientists around the world.
Dr Peter Wilkie, senior researcher in Tropical Diversity explained: “This particular specimen is historically significant because it was collected by Charles Darwin, but it continues to be a valuable research resource for scientists, as relevant today as it was two hundred years ago.
“By studying and comparing data from historical and more modern specimens, we use these collections to better understand the incredible diversity of plants on our planet and help identify, those species which are at risk of extinction from human activity and climate change. In this way these collections, old and new, are helping address the current biodiversity crisis and climate emergency.”
Filmed in Summer 2021, Sunday night’s episode is the second of three programmes to be shot at the Garden.
Fiona Bruce, Presenter of the Antiques Roadshow said: “We had such a brilliant time at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh that we were able to produce three separate programmes, each one brimming with Scottish treasures, quirky curiosities and moving stories – all filmed against a stunning backdrop.”
The episode will also feature a stunning set of traditional Highland dress that was once worn by a Highland chieftain, a rare Rolex Sea-Dweller watch and a selection of medals that include a 1924 Olympic participant’s medal.
The show will be broadcast on BBC1 at 7pm on Sunday 3 April. The final episode featuring RBGE is expected to be shown in Summer 2022.
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