The Natural History of the Purple Emperor

The Botany Section invites all members of the Society to this talk by Matthew Oates at Westbury-on-Trym Methodist Church, Westbury Hill, BS9 3AA.

Matthew Oates tells us: “I’m writing a new book on the natural history of this wonderful butterfly. There’s a good Bristol link here as Ian Robert Penicuick Heslop, who wrote much on this butterfly during the 1950s and early 60s was a Bristol boy, went to live at Burnham, and his collection and papers are in Bristol Museum.”  The eccentric Heslop once claimed to have ‘taken’ as many Purple Emperors as Elephants (four).

Matthew has been with the National Trust since 1990 and is their National Specialist, Nature.  Initially he worked in nature conservation practice, specialising in grazing regimes, scrub management and lowland habitats.  A frequent radio and TV broadcaster, he is particularly drawn to people’s relationships with nature, places and seasons, and increasingly the impact of weather on wildlife.

For a taster, see Matthew’s website  and the account of this local rarity in Butterflies of the Bristol Region. We should also lean how Salix caprea, Sallow or Goat Willow should be managed in favour of the butterfly, and its unusual tastes.



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