News Stories in category: Biological terminology

Botanical Illustration: What's in a name? part 2

Story posted: 26. August 2016 by Lizzie Harper

In the last blog I talked about how vital Latin names are to botanical illustrators, natural history and Sciart practitioners and enthusiasts.  We covered Kingdoms, Phylum, Class, Order and Family.  In this blog we’re looking at the two components of an organism’s Latin name – the genus and the species.

Now we get down to the Latin name as you’ll see it written, a genus name followed by a species name.  This is referred to as the scientific name of an organism.  It is written in italics with the genus capitalised, the species name not capitalised.  You may see Latin names…

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Botanical Illustration: What's in a name? part 1

Story posted: 12. August 2016 by Lizzie Harper

Natural history illustrators are asked to illustrate a wide variety of plants and animals, and it’s vital that you draw the correct organism!  With so many similar species out there, I can honestly say that I’d be lost if it weren’t for the use of Latin names to pinpoint the living thing you’re illustrating.

So how does this system of naming work?  First, it’s vital to remember that naming things is a very human trait.  We have invented this complicated and detailed format to be able to identify all living things, but it’s by no means a perfect solution.  Latin names are forever…

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Botanical Illustration: Exploring Adventitious Roots

Story posted: 27. June 2016 by Lizzie Harper

In my last blog I mentioned that being a botanical illustrator sometimes involves a fair amount of research, in this case examining different types of root. So natural history illustration and botany go hand in hand, and in researching roots I've realised that the more you learn, the more you find you need to learn.  This blog is about adventitious roots.

Adventitious roots, roots which don’t grow from the base of a plant’s stem but can grow from other parts of the stem or from the leaves, are useful for plants both for nutrient storage and for structural support.  They can also…

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Category: Biological terminology    Comments: 0    Viewed: 1378

Botanical Illustration: Exploring Root Variety

Story posted: 10. June 2016 by Lizzie Harper

As a botanical illustrator, spending time examining plants and their structures, I’m continually amazed by the variety of forms plants produce.  Take, if you will, the humble “root”.

A “root” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “The part of a plant which attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches and fibres”.

However, the story does not stop there!  There are three main types of root; the fibrous root, the tap root, and the adventitious root.   This blog is a…

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Category: Biological terminology    Comments: 729    Viewed: 21652

Natural History Illustration: Salmon life cycle

Story posted: 11. September 2015 by Lizzie Harper

Scientific illustration and wildlife art have been combined in a recent job; to illustrate the wildlife of the River Wye for a keen local fisherman.  A main focus has been the life cycle of the Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar. Inevitably, in researching these fish I've learnt a little of the key features present in each life cycle stage.

A key resource has been the Atlantic Salmon Trust , where both visual and written references are readily available.

Salmon emerge from eggs in freshwater rivers, such as the Wye.  Until they absord their egg sacs their known as alveolin ,…

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Botanical Illustrator and Natural History illustration: Mosses

Story posted: 8. April 2015 by Lizzie Harper

Natural history illustration involves drawing subjects that you’re not entirely confident about; and recently I had to complete botancial illustrations of two moss species for The Field Studies Council .

I was lucky enough to find both species growing on my local churchyard wall, but before drawing them up I needed to revise my moss anatomy!

Luckily, many years ago I did a diagram of moss for The Amateur Naturalist by Nick Baker so could refer to this.



Moss anatomy by Lizzie Harper, from "The Amateur Naturalist" by Nick Baker

Moss has a complex life…

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Botanical illustration: The Ovary in Botany October 3rd 2014

Story posted: 3. October 2014 by Lizzie Harper

Botanical illustrators and those practising science art have to understand the biological terminology that applies to their subject matter.  All of my illustrations for this blog are taken from The Garden Forage r by Adele Nozedar (publ. 26.03.2015).   Follow the link to see all of them on my Pinterest site .

Following on from September's blog about Basic botanical terms ; this week I'm going to explore the importance of the ovary in knowing what flower you're looking at or illustrating. First, a swift recap of basic botany.

The flower's ovary contains the unfertilized…

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Botanical Illustration: Basic Botany Terms 19th September 2014

Story posted: 18. September 2014 by Lizzie Harper

If you're going to illustrate botanical or natural history specimens, you need to know what you're drawing.  Biology provides words for almost every part of an animal or plant; and although sometimes these terms sound intimidating (many have latin roots so sound unfamiliar) they don't need to put you off.

This blog is an introduction to the basics of botany, so you can tell your corolla from your sepal, and your stem from your root.  Below is an annotated illustration of Lesser spearwort ( Ranunculus flammula ).



Many of these terms will be more than familiar; a leaf,…

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Botanical Illustration: Exploring the achene fruit type May 2nd 2014

Story posted: 2. May 2014 by Lizzie Harper

Natural science illustration and natural history illustration require you to understand both what your subject looks like, and also the correct words needed to scientifically describe it.  Last week my blog was about fruit type definitions , inspired by some work I did for Rodale's 21st Century Herbal by Michael Balick.  Whilst getting my head around the terminology of fruit types, I realised there's scope for a whole blog about the seemingly humble ACHENE.

The ACHENE is "a small dry indehiscent single-seeded fruit" (Flora of the Birtish Isles, Clapham Tutin and Moore). So…

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Botanical Illustration: Botanical terms for fruit types April 25th 2014

Story posted: 25. April 2014 by Lizzie Harper

Botanical and scientific illustration requires a certain amount of biological knowledge, and this is certainly true when it comes to painting botanical diagrams.  I recently did some illustrations for Rodale's 21st Century Herbal by Michael Balick , and one of these was a diagramatic comparison of fruit types.



This got me thinking about how little I knew about the differences in fruit types, so I thought if I did a blog on the subject I'd be able to learn a bit more, and share what I find out.

I'm going to use the glossary from Flora of the British Isles by…

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Category: Biological terminology    Comments: 2    Viewed: 13212

Botanical Illustration - Tips on Leaf Shape: Margins, Venation & Position November 1st 2013

Story posted: 1. November 2013 by Lizzie Harper

Further to last week’s blog on illustrating botanical subjects, and the discussion of simple vs compound leaves and basic leaf shape; this week I thought I’d tackle leaf margins, different venation patterns, and key ways that leaves are attached to the stem. The terms discussed are in bold text; the examples are all illustrations I've done over the years; and if you find any mistakes feel free to tell me, I'm not a botanist, just a keen and interested amateur. .

Leaf margin refers to the edge of the leaf.  A smooth edge is called an entire margin.  There are no teeth…

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Botanical Illustration - Tips on Leaf Shape: Compound and Simple leaves October 25th 2013

Story posted: 25. October 2013 by Lizzie Harper

I’ve recently completed some botanical illustrations for The 21 st Century Herbal by Michael Balick (published later this year by Rodale ) and several illustrations of leaves, demonstrating different terms, were commissioned.

I think knowing what variations exist in nature helps you to look closer at a subject you’re drawing; so I thought I’d share some of it with you.  The terms discussed are in bold text; the examples are all illustrations I've done over the years; and if you find any mistakes feel free to tell me, I'm no botanist, just a keen and interested amateur.…

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Botanical Illustration - Glorious grasses - June14th 2013

Story posted: 21. June 2013 by Lizzie Harper

I have always loved grasses.  Even as a child I marvelled at their different heights, shapes, and textures.  I love the way fields of grass move and rustle in the wind, and I love the smell of new mown grass (it's caused by green leaf volatiles (GLVs) and is actually a distress call from the plant).  As an adult, I love to illustrate them.



Alopecurus myosuroides

Monocots vs Dicots

In order to illustrate grasses, you need to know a bit about their anatomy.  They are unlike many of our plants as they are monocots not dicots.  This basically means that their…

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Category: Biological terminology, Showcase of themed natural history illustrations    Comments: 3    Viewed: 10953

Botanical Illustration - Tips on painting sketchbook-style studies of leaves - May 4th 2013

Story posted: 3. May 2013 by Lizzie Harper

I've been working on a series of three scientific illustrations of invasive plants this week, for Summersault Communications .  The accompanying article will explain how to identify the plants and why they pose a threat.  I am fortunate in that the commissioning art director has asked for the images to be in my botanical illustration sketchbook style, which is my favourite way to work.

Having been asked by various people (including some members of the Botanical Art for Beginners group) to explain some step by step processes, I thought I'd break down the stages involved in…

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Category: Biological terminology, Botanical Illustration step by step, Illustration techniques    Comments: 2    Viewed: 58812

Botanical Illustration - Tips on painting Composite flowers - April 6th 2013

Story posted: 6. April 2013 by Lizzie Harper

When doing a scientific illustration of a flower, a bit of basic botany helps enormously.  This week, I'm going to discuss a really abundant plant type; the members of the daisy family (the latin term for these plants is Asteraceae, formerly known as the Compositae).

The terminology of flower parts can be complex, so below is a labelled diagram, adapted from an illustration I did for The New Amateur Naturalist by Nick Baker.



(For a clear and more detailed overview of general flower anatomy and funtion, have a look at the RHS slideshow .)

Asteraceae or Daisy…

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Category: Biological terminology    Comments: 4    Viewed: 15157