Pictured: Miniature of a plant and boys standing in the branches of a fruit tree picking fruit and throwing it down to a woman standing below.
Selections from a beautifully illustrated 15th century version of the “Tractatus de Herbis”, a book produced to help apothecaries and physicians from different linguistic backgrounds identify plants they used in their daily medical practise.
No narrative text is present in this version, simply pictures and the names of each plant written in various languages – a technique which revolutionised botanical literature, allowing as it did for easier transcultural exchanges of scientific knowledge.
This particular “Tractaus de Herbis”, thought to date from around about 1440 AD and known as Sloane 4016 (its shelf-mark in the British Library), hails from the Lombardy region in the north of Italy and is a copy of a similar work by a figure called Manfredus, which itself was a version of the late 13th century codex known as Egerton 747. As Minta Colins writes in Medieval Herbals:
The Illustrative Traditions (University of Toronto Press, 2000), as opposed to these early versions, this sumptuously illustrated 15th century copy was most likely created with the wealthy book collector in mind rather than the physician, as “the primary scientific purpose had by then given way to the bibliophile’s interest”.
Some of the delightful highlights of the selection given below include: a demon repelled; a trio of mouse, cat and human corpse; an animal engaging what seems to be a spot of self-castration; an aphrodisiac induced scene; and a man slyly urinating into a pot.
Miniatures of a plant and a fish.
Miniature of a lion, a leopard, a rabbit, and an elephant.
A series of dioramas constructed in the studio by photographer Daniel Shipp that shuffle nature, geography, and physics into familiar but fictional environments.
The unremarkable plants are staged against the backdrop of common urban environments which become storytelling elements on their own and invites the viewer to imagine their own narratives.
Daniel’s visual approach was inspired by Robert John Thornton’s Temple of Flora – a series of engraved plates commissioned in the 18th century that depicts unusual botanical specimens in the form of darkly romanticised illustrations with an otherworldly aesthetic.
In these compositions the physical characteristics of the unremarkable plants I have collected become storytelling elements which, when staged against the backdrop of common urban environments, explore the quietly menacing effect that humans have on the natural world.
From a subjective and ambiguous point of view we witness the plants ability to adapt and survive.
By manipulating the optical and staging properties of photography with an analogue “machine” that I have constructed, I have produced these studio based images “in camera” rather than using Photoshop compositing.
They rely exclusively on the singular perspective of the camera to render their mechanics invisible.
To think any one of these lifeforms exists in our galaxy, let alone on our planet, simply boggles the mind.
Photographer Steve Axford lives and works in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales in Australia where he spends his time documenting the living world around him, often traveling to remote locations to seek out rare animals, plants, and even people.
But it’s his work tracking down some of the world’s strangest and brilliantly diverse mushrooms and other fungi that has resulted in an audience of online followers who stalk his work on Flickr and SmugMug to see what he’s captured next.
Axford shares via email that most of the mushrooms seen here were photographed around his home and are sub-tropical fungi, but many were also taken in Victoria and Tasmania and are classified as temperate fungi.
The temperate fungi are well-known and documented, but the tropical species are much less known and some may have never been photographed before.
Mushrooms like the Hairy Mycena and the blue leratiomyces have most likely never been found on the Australian mainland before, and have certainly never been photographed in an artistic way as you’re seeing here.
It was painfully difficult not to include more of Axford’s photography here, so I urge you to explore further.
All photos courtesy the photographer. (via Awkward Situationist)
Scientists have unravelled the genetic makeup of a eucalyptus tree which could open up new possibilities for renewable forestry and fuel.
The international project has mapped the genome for the Eucalyptus grandis, otherwise known as the flooded gum tree, or the rose gum in Queensland.
Research fellow Carsten Kulheim, from the Australian National University, was one of the 80 researchers who worked for five years to sequence and analyse the 640 million base pair genome.
Dr Kulheim says the eucalyptus is important because it is the most widely planted hardwood tree around the world.
By sequencing the eucalyptus genome, Dr Kulheim says it will allow scientists to understand a lot of the properties of the tree, such as its fast formation of stem and wood.
“For plantations, this information is great as a tool for the selection of trees that grow better, that have the properties that the foresters want.
“But also it shows us why eucalypts are so popular.
“For example, there’s a large number of genes for wood formation and this high number of genes puts it into that special position where the trees can grow quickly.”
Dr Kulheim’s research within the project looked at hydrocarbons which act as a chemical self-defence against pests and herbivores, as well as providing the familiar aromatic essential oils used in medicinal cough drops and in industrial processes.
“Having this eucalyptus genome allows us now to understand where these chemicals come from and why one tree is different to another.”