This is an historical archive of the activities of the MRC Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit (MRC ANU) that operated at the University of Oxford from 1985 until March 2015. The MRC ANU established a reputation for world-leading research on the brain, for training new generations of scientists, and for engaging the general public in neuroscience. The successes of the MRC ANU are now built upon at the MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford.

White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium) blooms in the Unit

This year finally I have managed to reach agreement with the park services, that they do not mow on a fixed schedule the grassy areas in front of the Unit, but allow wild flowers to bring flowers for insects to feed on. The sad fact is that due to Hollywood and TV indoctrination, as well as to innate fear of the uncontrolled and the wild, most people like to see grassy areas mowed to 1 cm and monocultures, without wild plants, and consider that nice or even beautiful. But Nature’s variety is much more beautiful for those who have insight; those of us working on the brain, have some idea of beauty in nature.
As a result of the first unmowed spring a rare orchid, a White Helleborine (Cephalanthera damasonium) blooms under the birch trees. Just look at Ben’s picture! And the real thing! Please do not damage the plant, most of you will never see another one ever in your lives,

The seed of this orchid is carried by the wind and after germination the plant develops under ground for eight years in symbiosis with fungi. It cannot develop further without the appropriate mycorrhizal symbionts. It takes another 5-7 years of above ground development before the plant flowers for the first time. A real long-term project which is matched by some of my papers as time goes on.


Peter Somogyi