The Lake District in northwest England is a verdant expanse of rolling grassy countryside, dotted with trees and lakes, and surrounded by mountains. This idyllic landscape inspired Beatrix Potter to craft her famous children's book illustrations about Peter Rabbit and other woodland creatures, but it also fueled her other, less well-known, passion -- botany. Potter did a lot more than draw the natural world. She was the first person in Britain to speculate in a scientific paper that lichens are symbiotic life forms, conducted experiments in her kitchen, and recorded in detail her observations of algal and fungal properties.
"What is impressive about her work is that despite Miss Potter's lack of scientific training, she was one of very few Victorians engaged in experimental observations on fungi," says Nicholas Money, professor of botany at Miami University."She was an exceptional botanist when women weren't allowed to be," says Linda Lear,...

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