The lily family in Belgium:
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In this project, we will work with true lilies (genus Lilium) and their close relatives in the family Liliaceae.
Lilium itself often serves as plant model in biology class, a typical example of a wider group of flowering plants named monocotyledons (or monocots for short). This group includes well-known plants such as grasses, orchids, palm trees, and then also Lilium and other herbaceous relatives, which more clearly show the typical characteristics of monocots. The majority of species are herbs of different sizes with flowers counting 3 or 6 mostly showy petals. Several species develop rhizomes or bulbs in order to survive less favourable seasons or conditions under the earth. The leaves are most often slender and always with parallel nerves. Woody plants are an exception amongst monocots and, if present, the fibrous wood is differently formed than that of true trees. Other characteristics are microscopic, at the tissue level, or at least less obvious, like the fact that seeds have only one nutritional “bag” whereas most flowering plants have two (dicotyledons – or dicots for short).
Less so in Belgium but mainly in our neighbouring country, the Netherlands, one sole Liliaceae genus puts many people to work, namely the tulip (Tulipa). There as here, we find some members of this family in the fields and forests, such as two lily species (Lilium), snake’s head or chess flower (Fritillaria meleagris), several yellow-stars (Gagea), and the wild tulip (Tulipa sylvestris).
The Belgian Herbarium:
Meise Botanic Garden holds the largest herbarium collection of Belgian plant specimens. Each of these herbarium specimens has a label with valuable information such as the plant’s identification, and when, where, and who collected the plant. These specimens can be used in many domains of research, such as conservation, evolution, ecology and systematics. These data help us to better understand the plants of Belgium, their history and that of people who collected them. There are about 200,000 specimens in the Belgian Herbarium of the Meise Botanic Garden and we want to document them all! These data will then be made available online at www.botanicalcollections.be.
Belgium, Liliaceae, Monocotyledones, Hortus Botanicus Meise, Botanica.