Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand Opens New Garden as part of Botany Research at Trinity
Posted on: 08 September 2014
Trinity College’s Botanists’ Newly Discovered Plant in Thailand Named in Honour of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand visited Trinity College Dublin today [Saturday, September 6th]. The princess was shown a new plant species discovered in Thailand by Trinity botanists that has been named in her honour and opened a new garden. She also paid a visit to the Old Library where she viewed the Book of Kells.
“It is an honour for us to host HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s visit to Trinity College Dublin that will go further in forging our links with Thailand that span over 30 years involving Trinity’s botanists,” said Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast.
During her visit, the princess opened a new garden in the College in a newly developed square adjacent to the Botany Department. There she planted a native plant from Thailand sent specially for the occasion – Rhododendron arboreum*. She also visited Trinity’s herbarium where she met with researchers and Professor of Systematic Botany John Parnell showed her some of the unique plant material collected by Trinity botanists. It included a species of shrub new to science, recently discovered by them in Thailand and named in honour of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn – Buxus sirindhorniana*.
Trinity’s Botany Department has been involved in a long-term international research project, ‘Flora of Thailand’. Their collaborators are the Royal Forest Department, Thailand, The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris among other leading institutions.
Thailand has experienced one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the World and now only approximately 25% forest cover remains. Despite this clearance, Thailand remains one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet but one whose biodiversity remains to be fully documented. To help fill this gap the ‘Flora of Thailand’ research project aims to produce a complete account of more than 10,000 native vascular plants of Thailand.
“Botany’s plant systematics research group has made major contributions with the discovery and publication of very many species new to science. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s visit to Trinity College is a recognition of that contribution,” said Professor John Parnell.
The first person to ever collect plants on a large scale in Thailand was a Trinity graduate (Medical) – A.F.G. Kerr – who collected there in the early part of the 20th century. His collections form the bedrock of the Flora of Thailand project. Trinity holds much of his material. The HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is opening the triennial Flora of Thailand meeting in the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew next week at which Professor of Systematic Botany John Parnell will give the plenary address on Kerr.
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn also paid a visit to the Long Room and viewed the Book of Kells where the image of the Chi Rho page, the most celebrated image from the precious 9th-century manuscript was on display.
*Rhododendron arboreum Sm. subsp. delavayi (Franch.) D.F. Chamb
*Maha Chakri Sirindhorn – Buxus sirindhorniana [see Nordic Journal of Botany, 32: 452–458, 2014 – doi: 10.1111/njb.00314].
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