Thematics: Plants

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Katrin Raynor-Evans continues to combine her love of stamps with the great outdoors this week, as she takes a look at plants on stamps.

A couple of years ago, I was having a conversation with a fellow astronomer at the local astronomy society, and we were chatting about stamps. He happened to mention that Cardiff Museum holds a large collection of botany stamps.

This got me excited, so I set up a meeting to view the collection and I was totally overwhelmed when I saw it. The museum holds around 21,000 individual stamps and that excludes first day covers, maxi-cards and mini sheets!

One set that the curator was particularly proud of was a set of four stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of Kew Gardens, an internationally important botanical research institution. The 34p stamp illustrates a willow tree in front of the palm house, which took over fifty years to build. 

Botany is the study of plant science and judging by the number of stamps held at Cardiff Museum, you can tell that this is a popular theme.

But it’s not just about plants on stamps, it’s also about the botanists. For example, in 1953, Colombia commemorated their famous botanist José Jerónimo Triana Silva on a 23 Colombian centavo stamp which formed part of a set commemorating the centenary of the Establishment of the Chorographic Commission.

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Grenada issued a stamp delightfully named ‘Botany field trip’ in 1985 commemorating the Girl Guides, and Spain celebrated the subject of botany in 2009 when a €0.39 cent stamp featuring the image of a leaf was issued on a self-adhesive stamp as part of their ‘Science’ set.

Native plants, medicinal plants and even poisonous plants have appeared on stamps. The Republic of China chose the Rosary Pea to feature on a twelve Taiwanese new dollar stamp – ingesting one seed of this plant is fatal to humans!

And the insects better watch out too – a stunning set of four stamps illustrated by Steve Buchanan (famous wildlife illustrator) feature four carnivorous plants native to North America. With a value of 34 cents each, the Venus Flytrap, Yellow Trumpet, Cobra Lily and English Sundew stamps are tiny inspirational works of art that could be hung in any art gallery.   


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