Phytophilia

Books, Botany, and Bugs

This past summer, summer of 2017, I was a research intern at BRIT. When first coming to BRIT I did not know what to expect. All the perceptions of internships that I had in my head were of interns running back and forth delivering coffee and dry cleaning to any staff member that asked. Luckily BRIT blew all of those premonitions out of the water and showed me what a great internship should really strive to be. During my internship I worked on three main projects with plenty of other small projects sprinkled in between (oh, the joys of a non-profit). The first one I encountered was helping digitize the rare book collection by scanning beautiful illustrations and photo slides. One of my favorites was an illustrated Japanese botanical book that was published in 1910. With vibrant colors that...
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My Summer Education: The Microscopic World

BRIT has been amazing – a catalyst that has unlocked the doors to the natural world and shown me wonders that I had never fully appreciated.
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The Legacy of Alexander von Humboldt

How much do you know about Alexander von Humboldt, one of the most influential naturalists in history? More species and plants are named after him than after any other human being, but in the last 150 years he's been nearly forgotten. Let's change that.
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The New Zealand Kauri

The New Zealand Kauri – Agathis australis – is a truly magnificent tree, revered in New Zealand by the native Maori and Europeans alike. The Kauri’s ancestors lived over 130 million years ago – making it one of the most ancient trees in the world!
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The Unusual Binding of “Flora Sibirica”

As you look through the shelves in our rare book room, you see rows and rows of beautifully-bound books. They have bindings of leather and vellum, ornate embossed and gilded decorations on the covers and spines. Two volumes stand out: Flora Sibirca.
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Botanical Specimens with a Mysterious Past!

“Wow!” is the most frequent comment from visitors viewing the two oldest plant specimens in the BRIT Herbarium, both of which were collected by Dr. Thaddeus Haenke in 1791.
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Alexander von Humboldt and the Scientific Discovery of America

The work of one of the most important scientific explorers you've never heard of.
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Recycling Rocks!

Mixed-stream recycling is pretty amazing. We get to throw all of our recyclables into one bin, and then — POOF! — they magically get taken away and sorted elsewhere. No more icky sorting of paper from soda cans, milk jugs from mason jars! But have you ever wondered how the sorting ACTUALLY HAPPENS and WHO DOES IT?
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A Trip to Seville Farms

A couple of weeks ago, over half of the BRIT building was eerily empty for a day as the whole research department set off for a tour of Seville Farms, which is owned and operated by one of our board members, Billy Brentlinger. Seville Farms is a large-scale plant nursery providing annuals, perennials, and ground covers to numerous garden centers across Texas. The farms have five facilities containing over three million square feet! On this trip we visited the headquarters in Mansfield, Texas, and Billy and his right-hand-man John gave us an in-depth tour of the operations, start to finish.
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Frontera, Texas

It's 1852 in the newly-formed Republic of Texas. A devoted botanist collects a Cryptantha oblata specimen in the forgotten town of Frontera...
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