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Ian Brand: The Twelve Plants of Christmas 

    3 DECEMBER 2022

    We have many Christmas traditions, many of them plant or food based. Botanist Ian Brand takes us on a seasonal tour, encompassing everything from ‘Holly and Ivy’ to ‘Brussel Sprouts and Cranberry sauce’. There is something for everyone, geography, history, popular science, botany, even cooking tips, but above all there are going to be some interesting stories.

    Ian studied medicine in Cardiff, followed by a varied career from teaching hospital appointments to general practice on the North York Moors, before pursuing a career in radiology, spending the last twenty-two years as a consultant at Airedale General.

    Now retired he has rekindled his teenage interest in botany. This includes writing a nature notes column for three local papers, giving regular talks, and leading botanical-themed walks.

    When he is not botanising, he can be found cycling, walking, and running around his beloved Wharfedale, enjoying the latest screenings at Ilkley cinema and the occasional pint at his local pub.

    For those who missed it, Peter Lord has written the following résumé:

    The Twelve Plants of Christmas” was a festive-themed talk delivered by Dr Ian Brand on Saturday 3 December at Hebden Bridge Town Hall. Ian is a former Radiologist who in retirement has rekindled his passion for Botany. He lives in Ilkley and is an active member of the Wharfedale Naturalists Society. His talk, hosted by the Hebden Bridge Literary & Scientific Society, focussed on 12 plants which are associated with Christmas and the festive season. He not only described the botanical attributes of each plant but also gave very interesting historical facts about their origin and how they came into prominence at this time of year. Along with describing the biological difference between the pines used as Christmas trees he related how it was likely that it was Queen Victoria’s Grandmother, Queen Charlotte, who introduced the tradition of a tree at Christmas rather than the often reported Prince Albert. Ian informed the audience that the ubiquitous Poinsettia plant was popularised in the 1960s by Paul Ecke, who inherited a Poinsettia Nursery and sent plants to all the TV stations in the US who then featured them on the sets of news and talk shows. One tip Ian gave for those who need to find a Christmas gift at short notice is to have some Amaryllis bulbs at hand. Once planted these grow up to 60cm tall and produce beautiful flowers in 25 days. This was a delightful talk enjoyed by all.

    And here’s Ian’s 12 Plants of Christmas talk delivered by Zoom to the Wharfedale Naturalists.