Murder Most Florid

Published: 07/10/2023 By Allan Fuller

The next meeting of The Arts Society South West London will feature a talk by Mark Spencer titled ‘Murder Most Florid’ in which he talks on the subject of forensic botany. 

This is not a new science; indeed, it has played a role in solving major cases for decades, including the infamous murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s infant son. Plants are silent witnesses; their presence at a crime scene can help to identify a suspect or locate a victim. 

Even mundane plants such as brambles and nettles can provide insights into when a crime was committed and fragments of leaves and seeds on the footwear of a suspect can place them at the scene. An understanding of landscape history and land-use helps to distinguish between a clandestine burial site and a medieval grave.

Originally a horticulturist, Mark Spencer went on to study Botany at university and became a field botanist for a regional conservation organisation. Following 12 years as a botany curator at the Natural History Museum, London, he is now a consultant forensic botanist and occasional public speaker on TV and radio. His interests include the history of botany and botanic gardens, invasive non-native species and the flora of NW Europe.

The lecture takes place on Monday 9 October at 8pm at Dryburgh Hall. You can also register to view via Zoom on the society’s web site.

If you have never attended an Arts Society lecture before you are urged to join and find out about your local Arts Society. Visit the society’s website for further details.