Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bern Botanical Institute

On my recent trip to Switzerland I visited the Bern Botanical Institute. I knew that Henri helped his father Albert de Büren give his entire collection of dried plants to the city of Bern in 1872. After doing some research I was told that they would be located at the BBI.

I was taken down through the vast botanical gardens to a damp storage room near the river. Once the door was opened I found rows and rows of dusty papers and herbaria from floor to ceiling from various ages all wrapped in plastic. I was told that Albert's samples might be in there, but they had no idea of knowing for sure, but I was welcome to take a look.

I proceeded to get up on a desk in the room and look for any clues that could lead me to Albert's samples. I looked for a good hour or so, with no luck. I decided to at least look at some samples to make my trip worthwhile. The photos below are taken from those samples.

I was still keen to find something, so I kept looking deeper along one of the shelves. I found another old folder and upon opening it, I knew my search had ended, not because I found what I was looking for but felt that I should stop looking. I had stumbled upon a folder entire devoted to old mushrooms. I thought that 100 year old fungal dust might not agree with my pulmonary system, so I decided to pack up.

Back within the Institute itself I did find these examples of jarred plant samples that were too beautiful not to photograph and speak of research from long ago.

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