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By James Miles Burton esq.
12 years have passed since my Umbelliferae focussed project began, enough time for the taxonomists to rearrange the entire family. I noted that the Apiaceaes, as we know our floral friends as now, were remarkably absent from those months of compiling back then, and when asked if I could identify a specimen in a field, I could not even hazard a common name! So to reacquaint myself I have stepped out of the woods and into the fields to discover seven common umbels in my neighbourhood. I realised then that even my own website could not identify them. So the big update had to come.
I have added picture links, website links, tidied up the spelling errors, links and general site. I shall also be adding a 'Key to the Umbelliferae' and comparisons diagrams of seed types. One remarkable fact I did not mention was how I compiled this book in 1998, and site in 2002. Looking at the html, it is atrociously overladen with tables, I think one used a template sheet from Geocities (now defunct, but I still have their gif links working!). Also I hand copied botanical information from books in the library in my unusual shorthand over 8 hours a day. Then hand typed them up in separate programs on my Amstrad CPC 464 (saved to 5 hours of tape cassettes) and printed them out on A5 paper with a Star dot matrix printer that was always running out of ink. All this while living on £50 a week part time employment. 4 years later I then scanned them individually with some free OCR software.
I am much impressed with the patience and perseverance I took to produce, what is in fact a chip of brick dust from the solid botanical houses of yore. This project was more a test of emotional control than about accuracy back then. Still, it is the most comprehensive, easy to use non-commercial site on the family in Britain and may have helped a botanist or two.
Also the reasons why I fixated upon the Umbelliferae were omitted. They suited my frame of mind at the time, they were exotic, out of this world, different, they stood out from the landscape with their saucer shaped discs, encompassing the whole spectrum of phenomena expected from plants, from death dealer to health reviver. I happily denounced all other flora for their mere decorative effects. Umbels were kings of the pollenscape in my eyes, their diversity, domination and promiscuity encompassing in me a desire to make them part of me, like an arsenal or toolkit for future use. And I harbour these admirations in my heart as I did then.
As a student of Botany, I had to wade through countless books in search of references
for my research. This can be very tiring, especially when dealing with large weighty encyclopaedias. As I came across the Umbelliferae, in curio,I found references in 20
books all describing a different aspect of the family.
It was a bit like the blind men describing an elephant. Why isn't all this information
contained in one reference book, a specialist guide, I thought? The Umbelliferae are an
important and famous family. I thought it may be something to do with
copyright, but I said, I shall take a risk, science is in deep distress, and decided to
compile all the facts on the Umbelliferae family I could lay my hands immediately on,
which due to the astoundingly well stocked Aberdare library, I did not have to go far.
The only book I ordered was 'Tutins’, but even that was not complete, just full of
boring descriptions, from the 80’s. My book is much more fun, more descriptive,
fully comprehensive, detailed, clear and easy to use. It will therefore be of use to a
wider audience, from historians to cooks, botanist to doctor.
Favourite Historical quote comes from: Pignut, Conopodium majus, by a
Victorian botanist, talking about it's tuberous root bulbs:
“Better fitted to the digestions of the respectable quadrupeds, whose names
they share, than for Christian bipeds of tender years.”
I have to thank in compiling this book, myself and that which drives me, parents
and baby Jane. I am heartily grateful to those who spent many years researching the
books I have ‘borrowed’ and 'quoted' from. I do send letters asking for permission for
research, but seldom do I receive replies from publishers listed in 1970, and as the age old
monks and Buddhist who improved on their former peers spiritual discoveries, so I am improving
on my fellow botanist work, for science and the greater good of mankind as we have all done
since the age of Dioscorides. Bibliography lists all books consulted.
Content Compiled by Mr James M. Burton 1998. The information contained in this Umbelliferae Encyclopaedia is extant in the public domain, and has been compiled by the authour from a wide range of copyrighted botanical books. I lay no claim to this information, and have gained no pecuniary advantage from it's study and transformation into an online database. The purpose of this project is to give awarness to this important family, and help students and scientists glean with ease, information which may assist in their further analysis. All text therefore in this database has been researched and compiled by botanists refered to in the bibliography, and remains their property under copyright.
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'Online Guide To Umbelliferae Of The British Isles' Compiled By J.M.Burton 2002