Crocus Hunting

Crocus Hunting

Our subject is the Illustrated Flora of Turkey project and we are on the final stretch with one of its most elusive groups, the Crocus. Our excitement grows as we close in on the final drawings of this genus for the 3rd volume of the Flora.

With 138 species in Turkey, this giant and complex group of plants has certainly been a headache, both for us illustrators and for the authors of the account in the upcoming volume. Despite the hardships, we are happy to say we have finished nearly 110 illustrations! The illustrations were completed by the talented hands of our artists Kezban Sayar Yağız, Nadiye Gezmiş, Rachel Mollman and Sema Niğdeli, and I send my congratulations to Osman Erol and Almıla Çiftçi for their scientific contributions.

But of course, we are not done yet. We are working hard to finish up the last of the illustrations, and not just this genus, but the entire 3rd volume, is on the verge of completion!

Many field trips over the past few years brought back live specimens that were illustrated in watercolor by our talented artists. In fact, many of our earlier illustrations were completed using specimens from the Albert Heilbronn Botanical Garden, which, when it was still held by İstanbul University, had one of the world’s biggest live collections of Crocuses. However, it is not easy to get your hands on a live specimen of many rare and ephemeral plants, so many of our technical drawings are prepared from pressed herbarium specimens. This is exactly what brings Flora illustrator Rachel and myself, as art editor for the project, to the herbarium at IPK Gatersleben (Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Research, Germany). The type specimens for several of our outstanding taxa are found here.

While I am accustomed to working from live plant material, this time I set off to see and illustrate dried plant specimens that were collected, pressed and preserved years ago in the exacting conditions in a library of plant material. Working in this herbarium filled with countless dried specimens is an entirely different experience. It has a strange stillness, a pleasant smell. You see the most true form of a plant when you work from a live specimen, but working from a dried and pressed specimen is something like to solving a puzzle. Drawing all parts of the plant with millimetric accuracy, observing it under a microscope if necessary, and re-imagining the live form of a plant that has been pressed into a 2D form can be a very enjoyable, if difficult, task. The joy Rachel and I are finding as we try to draw so many dry specimens in this short 10-day stay is just that – solving puzzles.

Besides that, we are enjoying some peace and quite in the tiny town of Gatersleben.  Surrounded on all sides by the countless research fields and glasshouses of IPK, we are in a very different kind of green environment to the mountains and forests of fieldwork. We have also met many researchers and learned about much of the work underway at this institute.

In our time here at IPK, we have managed to complete drawings of the taxa C. schneideri, C. romuleoides, C. mediotauricus, C. fauseri, C. abracteolus, C. berytius, C. kangalensis, C. ponticus, C. tauri, C. yatagensis, C. stevensii, C, ionopharynx, C. akkayensis, C. incognitus, C. caelestis and C. mersinensis for ‘Illustrated Flora of Turkey’ Volume 3.

Besides Crocuses, illustrations of Orchids, Irises and many more complex geophytes have been completed for this volume. We are so close to being able to give the good news of the 3rd volume’s completion! And it’s not just the 3rd volume, many illustrations for the 12 other ongoing volumes are being prepared as well (out of 30 volumes!). Meanwhile, let me give you some other good news:

The Illustrated Flora of Turkey’s web version is now online!

https://www.turkiyeflorasi.org.tr

And the Irises of Turkey, to which I contributed many paintings, has been published!

https://turkiyeflorasi.org.tr/pdf/10.30796/ANGV.2021.9.pdf

These taxa will be published once again, along with their illustrations, in the 3rd Volume of the Flora.

Also, did we mention that Flora of Turkey is part of the The World Flora Online??(www.worldfloraonline.org)

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