Root Notes

Hi, my name is Caitlin McLaren. I’m a University of Sunderland music student, aiming to make museums more welcoming and fun for everyone.

The purpose of Root Notes is to create a music trail through the Winter Gardens glasshouse, creating a peaceful environment for visitors to enjoy, while also learning about the plants. Look for the Root Note labels (there are 13 in total) and scroll down to listen to the sounds on your device.

I used a device called the PlantWave to record the electrical signals of the plants using similar technology to polygraph machines. You can find out more about the science behind PlantWave on the website I have taken these sounds and edited them to fit the peaceful theme. I hope you enjoy the trail.

Take a listen to Caitlin’s introduction to Root Notes:

1. Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)

The Latin name for this plant means ‘delicious monster.’ The common name, Swiss Cheese plant, comes from the holes that develop in the leaves as it ages. The plant is native to Central America.

2. Natal Lily (Clivia miniata)

The Natal Lily is native to South Africa. An evergreen perennial with showy orange flowers, it is now one of the most popular flowering houseplants in the world. 

3. Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

The Norfolk Island Pine is a conifer from Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean. Captain James Cook landed at Norfolk Island on his voyage to Australia in the 18th Century. He observed that the ‘tall straight and strong pine trees found here are ideal for ships masts.’ Unfortunately, they were too brittle and snapped under pressure so were never used.

4. Monarch Fern (Phymatosorus scolopendria)

The Monarch Fern originates from the west coast of the Pacific. It is a sculptural fern that is commonly used as a houseplant.  When crushed, the fronds release a fragrant scent, similar to coconut oils. For this reason, it is often used to make perfumes.

5. Birds Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

Birds Nest Ferns are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants or buildings without having their roots in the soil. They are native to the rainforests of East Africa, Asia and Australia.

6. Chestnut Vine (Tetrastigma voinierianum)

The Chestnut Vine is native to Laos and Vietnam. It is a climbing plant with tendrils that allow it to twist and attach to other plants and grow up towards the light.

7. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

Cast Iron plants are native to Asia, including Taiwan and southern Japan. They are popular houseplants because they are low maintenance and also purify the air of toxic chemicals commonly found in homes.

8. Rubber Fig (Ficus elastica)

Rubber figs are native to South and South-East Asia. The plant gets its name from the rubber-like sap in its thick, glossy, leathery leaves; however, rubber is actually extracted from an entirely different plant!

9. Variegated Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)

The Weeping Fig is native to Australia, India, China, southeast Asia, and parts of the southwestern Pacific such as French Polynesia and Vanuatu. This attractive, evergreen tree has weeping, variegated leaves.

10. Umbrella Plant (Schefflera arboricola)

Umbrella plants, also known as Schefflera, are tropical evergreen houseplants native to Taiwan. They are popular for their large leaves that resemble the canopy of an umbrella.

11. Grapefruit Tree (Citrus x Paradisi)

Grapefruit trees belong to the citrus family which includes lemons and oranges. Grapefruit has become popular as a breakfast fruit in various parts of the world.

12. White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai)

The White Bird of Paradise is a flowering plant in the banana family that is native to South Africa. It is a tropical plant that thrives in warm, humid climates. This plant is known for its large, glossy leaves and unique, bird-like flowers.

13. Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is also known as the butterfly bush because of the shape of its leaves. It is originally from China where it is traditionally used in medicine where it is claimed to improve memory and treat asthma.

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