Nigella is a genus of herbaceous annual plants from the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. It comprises 18 accepted species, of which, two are especially familiar to us: Nigella damascena (often known as Love-in-a-Mist or Devil-in-a-Bush) and Nigella sativa (often known as black cumin or black caraway).
Recently, we were asked by Dr. Florian Jabbour at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris if we could photograph all our specimens of N.damascena for a scientific project. However, the way that every genus is separated in Kew means that one species can be found to be filed under multiple separate locations. It is often more time-consuming selecting specific specimens than simply digitising the entire contents of many cupboards.
So that’s what we did! We currently hold c. 1,000 specimens of Nigella species at Kew Herbarium and we barcoded and imaged them all. This allowed us to send Florian his requested specimen images, who recorded all the field-collecting information and sent it back to us! But that left us with many images which had no recorded field-collecting information, disallowing us to include them in our Herbarium Catalogue.
Please help us by transcribing these Nigella specimens and in doing so, help answer scientific questions about this charismatic plant genus. Where has it been found and how long ago? How much variation is there within species, depending on where it grows? Thank you and happy transcribing!
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