In Defense of Plants Podcast

In Defense of Plants


Plants are everything. They are also incredibly interesting. From the smallest duckweed to the tallest redwood, the botanical world is full of wonder. Join my friends and I for a podcast celebrating everything botany.

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Ep. 208 - Saving Florida's Native Plants

46:32 | Apr 14th

"Protecting species takes a village" says Juliet Rynear, executive director of the Florida Native Plant Society. This wonderful organization not only celebrates Florida's bewildering diversity of native flora, they also work extremely hard to protect...Show More

Ep. 207 - Into the Rooting Zone: Why Soil Carbon Matters

43:09 | Apr 7th

Grab your shovels because today we are heading underground to talk about soils. Joining us on this adventure is my friend and labmate Ron Salemme. Ron studies soil carbon cycling in the context of invasive plants and prescribed fire. In doing so, he ...Show More

Ep. 206 - Lovely Louisiana Botany

1:08:36 | Mar 31st

Join the wonderful Sara Johnson and me as we reminisce about our recent botanical adventures in Louisiana. Inspired by the possibility of meeting one of North America's rarest iris species, we headed down to the Gulf Coast to take in the sights as we...Show More

Ep. 205 - Mad About Manzanitas

47:38 | Mar 24th

Today we are taking a deeper look at the most diverse woody plant lineage in western North America. I am of course talking about the manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp.). Joining us is San Francisco State Professor Dr. Tom Parker who has devoted much of ...Show More

Ep. 204 - Asteraceae Addiction

57:45 | Mar 17th

The Aster family has nearly conquered the planet. It is one of the most diverse plant lineages on Earth and yet so many of us just pass them by without much of a thought. At least part of the reason may be the fact that composites can be difficult to...Show More

Ep. 203 - Oaks: Insights into Evolution & Ecology

40:56 | Mar 10th

Oaks are some of the most charismatic trees on the planet. They are also major players in the biosphere when it comes to their ecological impact. They also have a lot to teach us from a scientific perspective. Joining us in this episode is plant phys...Show More

Ep. 202 - Getting to the Root of Roots

40:01 | Mar 3rd

There is no denying that roots are one of the most important organs on a plant. However, unless its an epiphyte, root activity takes place underground, largely out of site and out of mind. This has not stopped my guest today from trying to understand...Show More

Ep. 201 - Plants of the Caribbean

36:40 | Feb 24th

When we think about the Caribbean, our minds often drift to sandy beaches, clear water, and corals. But what about plants? The Caribbean is home to an amazing diversity of plant life and my guest today is working hard to understand and protect them. ...Show More

Ep. 200 - Books, Books, and More Books!

59:44 | Feb 17th

This week In Defense of Plants is celebrating its 200th episode with a bunch of book recommendations. I get a lot of emails from listeners each week and unfortunately I simply do not have the time to respond to all of them. One of the most popular qu...Show More

Ep. 199 - Understanding Rainforests Through Evolution

46:25 | Feb 10th

Today we take a look at how understanding the evolution of various plant families provides us with insights into the history and diversity of some of the world's great rainforests. Joining us to discuss his work on palms and soursops is Dr. Thomas Co...Show More

Ep. 198 - The State of the World's Trees

36:24 | Feb 3rd

Assessing the status of all known tree species may seem like a monumental task and in many ways it is. However, that is exactly what a team of conservation scientists from Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and the IUCN are trying to...Show More

Ep. 197 - Below the Surface of Aquascaping

49:24 | Jan 27th

The world of aquatic plants is incredibly diverse, yet our ties to land make it difficult to fully appreciate these organisms. Their glory and splendor is best observed in their underwater realm. This is why aquascaping is such an incredible hobby. P...Show More

Ep. 196 - Agave are Awesome!

45:09 | Jan 20th

My guest today was bitten by the Agave bug at an early age. Since then, Dr. Jeff Lake has amassed an impressive collection representing over 100 different species and varieties of this wonderful genus of New World succulents. Despite their popularity...Show More

Ep. 195 - Chollas, Prickly Pears, and Biodiversity

46:44 | Jan 13th

When Dr. Jon Rebman decided to take on the diversity of cholla cacti, little did he know what he was getting into. Luckily, this work led him down a road stoked by a deep passion for understanding the biodiversity of not only cacti, but the entire fl...Show More

Ep. 194 - Preserving the Prairie One Seed at a Time

1:08:33 | Jan 6th

Bill Handel grew up in Illinois and has seen a lot change since his childhood days. Ever since he was a boy, Bill delighted in gardening with native plants. This led him to become the botanist that he is today. Today he dedicates much of his spare ti...Show More

Ep. 193 - Begonias!

49:16 | Dec 30th, 2018

What most of the world knows about the genus Begonia is only the tip of this botanical iceberg. The genus Begonia is currently the fastest growing genus of plants in the world and with new discoveries pouring in year after year, it doesn't show any s...Show More

Ep. 192 - Australia's Alpine Flora

42:29 | Dec 23rd, 2018

Today we are talking about Australia's alpine flora. My guest is PhD student Casey Gibson who is studying the many ways in which climate change is influencing this system. As you can imagine, Australia's alpine ecosystems are wonderfully complex and ...Show More

Ep. 191 - The Changing Forests of the Andes

54:28 | Dec 16th, 2018

When it comes to our understanding of plants and climate change, the tropics are still a great unknown. However, the data we do have is telling us that our actions are already changing forests. Today we are joined by Dr. Ken Feeley to talk about some...Show More

Ep. 190 - A Love Affair With Palms

56:50 | Dec 9th, 2018

Mike Knell is completely enthralled by palms. What started with a small collection of plams growing in his office has morphed into a full blown obsession with everything Arecaceae. Mike really hasn't looked back since. He now lives in Hawai'i and is ...Show More

Ep. 189 - When Palms Grew in Wyoming

49:39 | Dec 2nd, 2018

Join Dr. Sarah Allen and me as we journey back in time to the Eocene. Earth was a very different planet some 49 million years ago. Though we may recognize some Eocene flora, the combination of various plant lineages would be enough to make your head ...Show More

Ep. 188 - On the Origin of Flowering Plants

1:04:58 | Nov 25th, 2018

Despite their dominance on the landscape today, figuring out exactly when flowering plants got their start has been a challenge facing paleobotanists since Darwin's time. This so-called "abominable mystery" is nonetheless fascinating to study and tha...Show More

Ep. 187 - In Love With Native Plants

38:11 | Nov 18th, 2018

My guest today has fallen in love with growing native plants. Joining us is Aubree Keurajian who has just recently started her own native plant nursery in Conneticut called "Ungardening." Aubree wants to share her love of native plants with her commu...Show More

Ep. 186 - Being Totally Obsessed With Botany

1:07:04 | Nov 11th, 2018

When Joey Santore went searching for a biological "origin story" of sorts, he stumbled into the world of botany. He hasn't looked back ever since. As a fellow phyto-obsessive personality, Joey is dedicating most of his spare time to not only understa...Show More

Ep. 185 - The Importance of Conservation Horticulture

53:57 | Nov 4th, 2018

Imagine you are at work and someone comes into your office and throws down a handful of plant cuttings on your desk. They look at you with hopeful concern in their eyes and say "these are cuttings from an endangered plant. There are only 3 left in th...Show More

Ep. 184 - Fossilized Bryophytes: A Journey Back In Time

46:18 | Oct 28th, 2018

The odds of any living material becoming fossilized are extremely rare, especially if that living thing is a moss, liverwort, or hornwort. It does happen, however, and my guest today is dedicating his career to studying and understanding what bryophy...Show More

Ep. 183 - On Spiny Solanum & SciComm

54:38 | Oct 21st, 2018

Today we are joined by someone who is as passionate about doing science as he is with sharing his experiences with the world. Dr. Chris Martine is a true botany nut and his lab has been focusing on understanding the evolution of a group of Australian...Show More

Ep. 182 - City Bee Diversity

53:48 | Oct 14th, 2018

As far as native bees are concerned, we still don't know very much. That desperately needs to change as we gain a better understand of the role these wonderful insects play in ecosystem function and health. Luckily there are people like Dr. Rebecca T...Show More

Ep. 181 - Protecting Alpine Plants in the Adirondacks

46:03 | Oct 7th, 2018

The Adirondack Mountains are home to a remarkable diversity of plant species. Situated in northern New York, these mountains are harsh enough that they foster a thriving alpine community. Despite their ability to handle some of the worst weather cond...Show More

Ep. 180 - A Mossome Citizen Science Opportunity

40:18 | Sep 30th, 2018

My guest today is Dr. Rafa Medina from Augustana College in Rock Island Illinois and he comes to us with a wonderful citizen science opportunity. Dr. Medina is interested in moss evolution and how polyploidy may factor into the equation. To better un...Show More

Ep. 179 - Demystifying Orchids

56:08 | Sep 23rd, 2018

Orchids are some of the most popular plants in all of the world. This hyper-diverse plant family captures our imagination like no other. So often, the true lives of orchids are so strange, so bizarre, that it can seem that anything is possible with t...Show More

Ep. 178 - Forest Conservation in Laos

44:27 | Sep 16th, 2018

Forest conservation has never been more important, especially in Southeast Asia. Rates of forest loss in this region are unprecedented. Much still remains in places like Laos but without proper regulation, more stands to be lost. Luckily places like ...Show More

Ep. 177 - Serpentine Specialists & Their Evolution

46:40 | Sep 9th, 2018

My guest today is Shelley Sianta, a PhD student at UC Santa Cruz, and she studies evolution in a group of plants that have specialized on serpentine soils. These may sound like sketchy conditions and indeed they are. Serpentine soils are high in toxi...Show More

Ep. 176 - On Pawpaw and Floral Mimicry

49:56 | Sep 2nd, 2018

The world of floral mimicry really busts open traditional views on pollination. This spectrum of strategies involves things like poop and carrion mimicry, sexual mimicry, and possibly even fruit mimicry. That is where today's guest comes in. Joining ...Show More

Ep. 175 - Conserving Tree Diversity

52:25 | Aug 26th, 2018

Today we are joined by Dr. Sean Hoban, a tree conservation biologist at The Morton Aboretum near Chicago. As you can guess by his title, Dr. Hoban specializes in the science of conserving tree diversity. To do this, Dr. Hoban and his colleagues utili...Show More

Ep. 174 - Botanical Chemistry

53:57 | Aug 19th, 2018

Plants cannot get up and move. This fact has driven the evolution of plants throughout time leading to a bewildering array of chemical compounds that help them get through life. My guest today is Dr. Lucas Busta who is dedicated to studying and under...Show More

Ep. 173 - What the Dogbane Family Can Teach Us About Pollination

49:42 | Aug 12th, 2018

Pollination is a fascinating phenomenon to ponder. There seems to be as many variations on the subject as there are flowering plant species. Wonder and amazement wait around every corner. My guest today has devoted his career to such investigations. ...Show More

Ep. 172 - Pinosaur Conservation: An Introduction to the Wollemi Pine

44:51 | Aug 6th, 2018

The Wollemi pine is one of the world's rarest trees. These mysterious gymnosperms was unknown to science until 1994. Their discovery made headlines around the globe. My guest today, Dr. Heidi Zimmer, has the distinct honor of working with this wonder...Show More

Ep. 171 - Restoring Plants & Saving a Salamander

33:37 | Jul 29th, 2018

Habitat destruction is the leading cause of extinction on this planet. Plants = Habitat. There is no way around it. My guest today is Pierson Hill, a biologist at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in Florida. Pierson and his colleagues are wor...Show More

Ep. 170 - Saving an Orchid Collection & Starting a Botanical Garden

1:10:19 | Jul 22nd, 2018

It is no small task to save a plant collection and start a Botanical Garden from scratch but that is exactly what my guest today is doing. Joining us is expert horticulturist Michael Benedito to talk about saving a world renowned Stanhopea collection...Show More

Ep. 169 - Herbaria Are Data Gold Mines

37:55 | Jul 15th, 2018

Phenology, population size, distribution, genetic diversity - these are just some of the data locked up in herbaria around the globe. My guest today is Katelin Pearson and she has been working hard on making sure herbarium data are as available as th...Show More

Ep. 168 - Orchid Conservation at Mt. Cuba Center

46:11 | Jul 8th, 2018

Today we are joined by botanist and orchid fanatic Adrienne Bozic to talk about how she turned a life long obsession with orchids into a career in trying to protect them. Mt Cuba Center is helping her do just that. Together with a team of citizen sci...Show More

Ep. 167 - Trial Gardens at Mt. Cuba Center

42:21 | Jul 1st, 2018

Nativars are frequently seen as unnatural mutant versions of their wild counterparts whose use overlooks the whole point of natives in the first place. Take, for instance, the popularity of double flowered nativars. These plants have been selected fo...Show More

Ep. 166 - Ants As Seed Dispersers a.k.a. The Myrmecochory Episode!

38:39 | Jun 24th, 2018

Ants are everywhere yet unless they find their way into our homes, we don't give them much thought. This episode is all about a group of ants that are crucial to the health of myriad plants around the globe. I am, of course, talking about the seed-di...Show More

Ep. 165 - Cacti Explorer

39:10 | Jun 17th, 2018

Today we are joined by cacti explorer Stefan Burger who has been exploring South America in search of its wonderful cactus species. His goal is to find, photograph, and share with the world the beauty and wonder of this amazing family of succulent pl...Show More

Ep. 164 - Carnivorous Plants: Their Physiology, Ecology, and Evolution

46:58 | Jun 10th, 2018

Today we are joined by Dr. Aaron Ellison to talk about a new book called "Carnivorous Plants: Physiology, Ecology, and Evolution. Among other things, Dr. Ellison has spent much of his career learning about what the organisms living within pitcher pla...Show More

Ep. 163 - A Lifetime With Gesneriads

50:49 | Jun 3rd, 2018

There is so much more to The Gesneriad family than African violets. It is a relatively diverse group of plants and many species make great houseplants. My guest today is Jay Sespico and he is in love with Gesneriads and wants to share that love with ...Show More

Ep. 162 - Of Dinosaurs and Plants

38:11 | May 27th, 2018

Who hasn't marveled at the fossilized remains of a dinosaur? Though their lineage lives on today in the form of birds, historically, dinosaurs were once far more diverse. Needless to say, they shaped the world around them just as much as the world sh...Show More

Ep. 161 - Bucket Orchids, Ant Nests, and Fragrance-Collecting Bees

35:18 | May 21st, 2018

Our guest today is Dr. Günter Gerlach from the Botanical Garden Munich to discuss a group of orchids in the genus Coryanthes. These bizarre orchids grow only in arboreal ant nests from Mexico into South America. If that wasn't cool enough, Coryanthes...Show More

Ep. 160 - Dalechampia, the Non-Model, Model System

34:15 | May 13th, 2018

Today we are focusing on a strange genus of plants in the family Euphorbiaceae. The Dalechampia can be found growing in tropical forests throughout much of the world. Joining us is Dr. Scott Armbruster, who has spent his entire academic career using ...Show More

Ep. 159 - An Orchid That Mimics Aphids?

22:37 | May 6th, 2018

My guest today is Melissa Díaz-Morales from the Jardín Botánico Lankester in Costa Rica and her work focuses on orchid pollination. Orchids are known for their deceitful pollination syndromes and Melissa has spent the last few years working on a lady...Show More

Ep. 158 - Pollination of Neotropical Aroids: A New Look At Some Old Friends

31:56 | Apr 29th, 2018

Join University of Vienna PhD student Florian Etl for an in depth look at a pollination system involving some of our most beloved houseplants. Florian focuses on genera like Philodendron, Anthurium, Dieffenbachia, and Spathiphyllum to shine light on ...Show More

Ep. 157 - Plants In Space

42:20 | Apr 22nd, 2018

If humanity has a future in space travel, plants are going to play a significant role. That is why people like Dr. Rob Ferl have dedicated their career to understanding how plants respond to growing up there. Few things are more terrestrial than a pl...Show More

Ep. 156 - Botanizing a Lowland Tropical Rainforest in Costa Rica

34:55 | Apr 15th, 2018

Join Dr. Mark Whitten and me as we explore a lowland tropical forest in Costa Rica. I have never experienced such a warm, humid forest environment before and I met so many new and familiar plant species along the way. This is a great one for the sens...Show More

Ep. 155 - Understanding Floral Chemistry

1:09:22 | Apr 8th, 2018

For Dr. Rob Raguso, the phrase "stop and smell the roses" takes on a whole new meaning. Dr. Raguso studies the intricate world of floral chemistry. You are undoubtedly familiar with some of the wonderful odors flowers produce but such tantalizing sme...Show More

Ep. 154 - The Columnar Cacti Trifecta: My First Sonoran Experience

38:27 | Apr 1st, 2018

The Columnar Trifecta: the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), the organ pipe (Stenocereus thurberi) and the senita (Pachycereus schottii) - Organ Pipe National Monument is the only place in the US where you can see these three cacti growing in sympatry in...Show More

Ep. 153 - Botany & Culture at Longwood Gardens

44:52 | Mar 25th, 2018

My guest today is plant breeder, horticulturist, and botanical explorer Dr. Peter Zale. As part of the research staff at Longwood Gardens, Dr. Zale is utilizing his expertise to put plants in the spotlight. From exploring tropical jungles to propagat...Show More

Ep. 152 - Forests, Ozone, and Earth's Largest Mass Extinction

48:56 | Mar 18th, 2018

The End-Permian Extinction occurred some 252 million years ago. It has been referred to as "the day the earth nearly died. It is estimated that the world lost up to 96% of all marine species, 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species, and 83% of all ins...Show More

Ep. 151 - On The Ledge With Jane Perrone

48:14 | Mar 11th, 2018

I love houseplants which is why I am so excited for my guest this week. Joining us is the one and only Jane Perrone. Jane is the host of the amazing houseplant podcast On The Ledge. Join us for a discussion about our love for plants, podcasting, and ...Show More

Ep. 150 - Growing the Amazon Spheres

32:34 | Mar 4th, 2018

The Amazon Spheres are all about changing the "character of a workplace and an extended conversation about what is typically missing from urban offices– a direct link to nature." My guest today is Senior Manager of Horticulture Ron Gagliardo. What st...Show More

Ep. 149 - Are These Herbs Working feat. Erin & Erin from This Podcast Will Kill You

1:16:17 | Feb 26th, 2018

Today we are joined by Erin and Erin from This Podcast Will Kill You to take a closer look at a few herbs that are commonly used by us humans. In this episode we cover the ecological and medical significance of Echinacea and St. John's Wort. We are n...Show More

Ep. 148 - Cecropia Trees, Ant Bodyguards, and Collective Personality

40:49 | Feb 18th, 2018

Plants, being sessile organisms, must go to great lengths to protect themselves from herbivores. Sometimes this takes the form of spines or thorns, sometimes its nasty chemicals, and sometimes it means recruiting ants as bodyguards. Peter Marting is ...Show More

Ep. 147 - Inspiring the World Through Plants

56:55 | Feb 11th, 2018

My guest today is entrepreneur, author, and gardening enthusiast Summer Rayne Oakes. Summer fell in love with plants at an early age and has always felt that they helped her gain a deeper appreciation for nature as a whole. As such, she has steered h...Show More

Ep. 146 - Vascular Plants of the World feat. Maarten Christenhusz, Mark Chase, and Michael Fay

45:32 | Feb 4th, 2018

How does one create an encyclopedia of the vascular plants of the world? My guests today are here to discuss exactly that. Joining us are Dr.'s Maarten Christenhusz, Mark Chase, and Michael Fay who recently published the monumental book "Plants of th...Show More

Ep. 145 - Obscure Apocynaceae Appreciation

33:15 | Jan 28th, 2018

There are far too many plants in this world that get little to no attention. Such is the case for a group of milkweed relatives in the genus Chthamalia. Luckily for these plants, a chance encounter by Dr. Angela McDonnell led to a wonderful world of ...Show More

Ep. 144 - Speciation in Parasites & Pitcher Plants

35:16 | Jan 21st, 2018

The study of evolution among parasitic and carnivorous plants is a fascinating world ripe for discovery. My guest today is botanist Dr. Chris Thorogood who, when not directing science communication at Oxford, is studying the various drivers or divers...Show More

Ep. 143 - Botanizing in Bolivia

1:03:16 | Jan 14th, 2018

Today we are joined by two of my favorite people - expert horticulturist Dave Janas and restoration ecologist Estefania Fernandez - to talk about their botany-fueled trip to Bolivia. One can only imagine what a country like Bolivia holds for botanica...Show More

Ep. 142 - The Hemlock Restoration Initiative

56:27 | Jan 7th, 2018

Eastern North America has two species of hemlock - the eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and the Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) - both of which have been hit by an invasive insect pest - the hemlock wooly adelgid. This pest has devastated heml...Show More

Ep. 141 - Beware of Beech Bark Disease

54:48 | Dec 31st, 2017

American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is one of the dominant forest trees in eastern North America. It is also under attack by a disease complex known as "beech bark disease." Join plant pathologist Kristin Wickert and I for a discussion about the caus...Show More

Ep. 140 - Discussing Impatiens With Mr. Impatiens

0:00 | Dec 24th, 2017

Impatiens is the largest of two genera in the family Balsaminaceae. Its myriad species hail from a variety of habitats and exhibit a multitude of interesting growth habits. Join me and my guest Mr. Impatiens as we discuss the wonders of this beautifu...Show More

Ep. 139 - Tropical Dry Forests

42:09 | Dec 17th, 2017

Despite representing nearly half of the tropical forests around the globe, tropical dry forest ecosystems have largely been overshadowed by rainforests. Sadly, most attention that has been paid to these diverse ecosystems has come in the form of agri...Show More

Ep. 138 - The Botanical Wonders of Southeast Asia

50:41 | Dec 10th, 2017

It is hard to wrap your head around the floristic diversity of places like Southeast Asia. Indeed, it is one of the most biodiverse regions of the world. The challenges and excitement of cataloguing the myriad plant species that call this region home...Show More

Ep. 137 - Question Show #2!

40:16 | Dec 3rd, 2017

You asked and In Defense of Plants answers! The long awaited second question show has arrived. You all sent in some excellent questions and we cover topics like the eclipse, epiphylly, sumac fruits, and aquatic angiosperms. Join us for an episode of ...Show More

Ep. 136 - Uncovering Antarctica's Forested Past

39:23 | Nov 26th, 2017

It may be hard to believe but Antarctica has a green past. Throughout its history, our southern polar continent has been the home to a variety of now-extinct biomes and my guest today is responsible for uncovering the oldest of these remains. Dr. Eri...Show More

Ep. 135 - Cycads: The Most Endangered Organisms On The Planet

37:35 | Nov 19th, 2017

Did you know that cycads are the most endangered group of organisms on the planet? We are officially facing a cycad crisis but luckily there are people like Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum from the California Academy of Sciences who have devoted their life t...Show More

Ep. 134 - Growing Gondwana Relicts

45:53 | Nov 12th, 2017

Join me and my guest Robbie Blackhall-Miles as we discuss his love and passion for growing the remains of a flora whose lineage arose many millions of years ago. Robbie is an expert horticulturist whose work centers around conserving biodiversity in ...Show More

Ep. 133 - Pollinator Pathway: A Design Challenge For The Planet

1:02:52 | Nov 5th, 2017

As we dive deeper into the new epoch we have created - the Anthropocene - we are going to have to face a lot of harsh realities about the way we treat the planet. That is where people like Sarah Bergmann come in. About a decade ago, Sarah embraced co...Show More

Ep. 132 - The Oak Origin Story And What It Means For Conservation

0:00 | Oct 29th, 2017

Who doesn't love oaks? This episode is all about their evolutionary origins. Joining us is a powerhouse team of scientists - Dr. Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Dr. Andrew Hipp, and Dr. Paul Manos - whose work has changed the oak origin story in a very inte...Show More

Ep. 131 - Lycopsids: What An Ancient Lineage Can Teach Us About Extinction

55:30 | Oct 22nd, 2017

If you're into growing plants and looking at fossils, then this is the interview for you! Joining us today is Jeff Benca, a grad student at UC Berkely who discovered a love for growing clubmosses and their relatives. It was this love that convinced h...Show More

Ep. 130 - A Passion For Passion Flowers

1:08:44 | Oct 15th, 2017

This episode is all about the passion flower family - Passifloraceae. Joining us from her post at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew is the one and only Rebecca Hilgenhof. You may remember her from Episode 86. Rebecca is extremely passionate about th...Show More

Ep. 129 - Garden Inspiration With Peter Donegan of The SodShow

49:34 | Oct 8th, 2017

I can't think of a gardener with a better sense of humor than Peter Donegan. Peter not only owns and operates an award-winning landscape design company, he is also the host of the wonderful horticulture podcast The SodShow. Join us as we wax poetic a...Show More

Ep. 128 - Native Plant Appreciation

38:53 | Oct 1st, 2017

Today we are joined by John Magee, landscape designer and co-host of The Native Plant Podcast. John has always been a fan of gardening with natives and has some wonderful insights about the culture of landscaping. Join us for a fun discussion centere...Show More

Ep. 127 - What Is Going On With Seed Dispersal In Hawai'i?

44:23 | Sep 24th, 2017

The title says it all. My guest today is Amy Hruska, a PhD student at the University of Hawai'i. Her research bridges the gaps between invasive species, extinction, and seed dispersal in Hawaiian forests. Join us for an enlightening discussion about ...Show More

Ep. 126 - For The Love Of Growing Plants

1:17:11 | Sep 17th, 2017

I think growing plants is one of the most important skills humanity has ever stumbled across. People like Dr. Chad Husby are a wonderful example of just how important it is. Whether its teaching the public, saving a species, or learning how to grow p...Show More

Ep. 125 - A Conversation With The Plant Messiah

55:08 | Sep 10th, 2017

Carlos Magdalena has been called "The Plant Messiah" for good reason. His propagation work at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew has seen species like Nymphaea thermarum (the world's smallest water lily) and the Café Marron (Ramosmania rodriguesii) b...Show More

Ep. 124 - Darwin's Backyard

1:30:39 | Sep 3rd, 2017

Few may realize just how important plants were to the great Charles Darwin. Luckily, Dr. James Costa is bringing Darwin's botanical interests to the forefront with his latest book, "Darwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory." As if...Show More

Ep. 123 - Legumes and Their Nitrogen-Fixing Partners

58:35 | Aug 27th, 2017

Many of us are aware that planting legumes helps enrich soils but how do they do this? By partnering with bacteria, of course! My guest today studies how this mutualistic relationship evolved and how it is maintained throughout various lineages. Dr. ...Show More

Ep. 122 - Understanding Ferns and Lycophytes

1:04:58 | Aug 20th, 2017

Ferns and lycophytes have been around for a long time. Still, they often get overshadowed by angiosperms but not in the Sessa lab! Our guest today is Dr. Emily Sessa, an assistant professor at the University of Florida. Her lab focuses on the interre...Show More

Ep. 121 - Mosquitoes: The Unlikely Pollinators

48:37 | Aug 13th, 2017

Mosquitoes are maligned the world over and often for very good reason. However, there are a plethora of different species of mosquito on this planet and many of them do not bite humans or spread disease. In fact, some of them are important pollinator...Show More

Ep. 120 - Understanding Rapid 'Ohi'a Death

51:11 | Aug 6th, 2017

The 'Ohi'a (Metrosideros polymorpha) is the dominant tree on the Hawai'ian Archipelago and it is under attack by two different species of invasive fungi. Trying to understand and combat the spread of these pathogens is one of the main focuses of our ...Show More

Ep. 119 - Plant Architecture

40:28 | Jul 30th, 2017

Our guest today is Dr. Karl Niklas. His work utilizes mathematics to explain plant growth and form in relation to four basic physical constraints: 1) Plants have to capture sunlight and avoid shading their own leaves, 2) Plants have to support themse...Show More

Ep. 118 - Reflections On Summer Botanizing

1:12:14 | Jul 24th, 2017

I am back in Illinois and I met up with my good friend Steve (co-host of The Field Guides Podcast) to wax poetic about summer botanizing. Steve has spent most of his summer exploring Illinois while I have been busying myself in the southern Appalachi...Show More

Ep. 117 - Alfred Russel Wallace and Evolution

1:17:07 | Jul 16th, 2017

Today we are continuing our conversation with Dr. James Costa. This week, we take a deeper look at the life of Alfred Russel Wallace, a man who independently began developing a theory of evolution. You will find out why we hardly remember Wallace for...Show More

Ep. 116 - Social Caterpillars, Their Host Trees, and the Origins of Evolutionary Science Pt. 1

46:00 | Jul 9th, 2017

For Dr. James Costa, a love of biology started early. It eventually evolved into a career studying social insects and their interactions with plants. It also evolved into a passion for the history of science, specifically that of evolutionary theory....Show More

Ep. 115 - On Old Growth Forests and Disturbance

45:08 | Jul 2nd, 2017

Today we are talking about one of my favorite subjects - old growth forests. Joining us is Dr. Beverly Collins, an associate professor at Western Carolina University. Her work looks at the dynamics of old growth forests, especially as it relates to d...Show More

Ep. 114 - A Tour of the Tilden Park Botanical Garden or The Flora of California Condensed

1:09:58 | Jun 25th, 2017

In this episode, In Defense of Plants is going back in time a bit to my visit to San Francisco. What you are about to hear is a tour of Tilden Park's wonderful botanical garden whose purpose is the collection, growth, display, and preservation of the...Show More

Ep. 113 - Restoring Ecosystems Across the Globe

57:33 | Jun 18th, 2017

Restoration ecology is a topic near and dear to my heart. The idea of nursing the land back to health is something we all must rally behind. Plants are at the center of this practice and our guest today has devoted his career to understanding both pl...Show More

Ep. 112 - The Wild World of Moss Sex

41:20 | Jun 11th, 2017

Plants have interesting sex lives. In this episode we take a closer look at reproduction in the mosses, in particular, a species known as fire moss. Joining us to talk about a particularly interesting version of this is Leslie Kollar, a PhD student a...Show More

Ep. 111 - Leaf Miners

45:20 | Jun 4th, 2017

You have all probably seen them, however, many probably don't realize what they are. Leaf miners are any sort of arthropod that lives part or all of its life nestled in the tissues of a leaf. This is an amazing world that desperately need more attent...Show More

Ep. 110 - Resolving Ice Age Ecosysems: Using the Past to Understand the Future

52:26 | May 28th, 2017

Trying to piece together an accurate picture of past ecosystems requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. That is why I am so amazed by the work of today's guest. Joining us is paleoecologist Dr. Jacquelyn Gill to talk about her work on ice...Show More

Ep. 109 - Phylogenetics and the Largest Flower in the World

52:47 | May 21st, 2017

Joining us today from Harvard University is Dr. Charles Davis. His lab focuses on elucidating the phylogenetic relationships among the plants of the world. One of his most exciting projects revolves around a genus of plants known as Rafflesia, which ...Show More

Ep. 108 - Being a Botanist in Laos

44:27 | May 14th, 2017

Our guest today is Bryony Smart who is a botanist at the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden in Laos. This is the first botanical garden in the country and because of that, Bryony and her colleagues are working diligently on categorizing and preserving the f...Show More

Ep. 107 - Chestnut Blight: Causes and Solutions

55:24 | May 7th, 2017

This week we take a deep dive into the world of chestnut blight. This fungal pathogen was introduced to North America in the early 1900's and has all but eliminated one of the dominant tree species of eastern US forests. Our guest today is Kristin Wi...Show More

Ep. 106 - Are Vines Parasites?

42:20 | Apr 30th, 2017

Vines are iconic the world around. Some are maligned whereas others are celebrated. Regardless of these viewpoints, their ecological importance cannot be understated. Joining us today to talk about the relationships between vines and trees is Tara St...Show More

Ep. 105 - Talking Soil With Author Paul Bogard

42:01 | Apr 23rd, 2017

The soils beneath our feet comprise a complex ecosystem in and of themselves. Soils support literally every major ecosystem on this planet. Despite all of this, they are largely ignored. Even worse, we continually degrade them without a care in the w...Show More

Ep. 104 - Rock gardens, alpines, and aquatics, oh my!

1:08:55 | Apr 16th, 2017

I don't think I have to say that my favorite people are plant people. Joining us today is Tom Freeth, the man in charge of the rock, alpine, and aquatic gardens at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Tom has devoted his life to growing and understand...Show More

Ep. 103 - The Trout Lily Project

25:19 | Apr 9th, 2017

Calling all citizen scientists! The Trout Lilt Project needs your help! Joining us today is Dr. Emily Austen, a post doc at the University of Ottawa. You may remember Dr. Austen from episode 52 where we discussed her work on the evolution of flowerin...Show More

Ep. 102 - Building a Flora of Syria

21:29 | Apr 2nd, 2017

Did you know that there are many regions around the world that incomplete floras? Syria is one such place and my guest today is working very hard on adding to our understanding of this biodiverse region. With her focus on geophytes, Angham Daiyoub is...Show More

Ep. 101 - Life at an Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center

42:10 | Mar 26th, 2017

Today we get a sneak peak of what its like to work at a germplasm lab. Joining us is Andy Schenkel, a research assistant at The Ohio State University Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center. From collecting and storing seeds to conservation of unique culti...Show More

Ep. 100 - A Tour of My Plant Collection

33:23 | Mar 19th, 2017

Wow, 100 episodes! I can't thank you enough. Your support over the last few years really means the world to me. In celebration of this milestone I thought we would do something a little different. Today we are taking a tour of my plant collection. I ...Show More

Ep. 99 - Living Collections: Exploring Ex Situ Conservation at Kew Gardens

37:50 | Mar 12th, 2017

This week we are joined by Kew Horticulturist Andrew Luke for a conversation about the importance of living plant collections. Ex situ conservation is part of what is required for successful plant conservation. This is especially true in today's frag...Show More

Ep. 98 - Our Changing Planet, a Paleobotanical Perspective

45:17 | Mar 5th, 2017

I have always loved fossils, which is why I am so excited about my guest this week. Joining us from the University of Washington is Dr. Caroline Strömberg. Dr. Strömberg's research involves using the fossilized remains of plants to understand how flo...Show More

Ep. 97 - Bulbs, Bulbs, Bulbs!

50:04 | Feb 26th, 2017

On this episode we are taking a dive into the world of bulbs. In order to find out more about the various plants that fall under this category, I reached out to Kit Strange from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Kit specializes in growing bulbs and...Show More

Ep. 96 - Guam's Changing Forests

48:54 | Feb 19th, 2017

Guam is a sort of poster child for invasive species. Following the accidental introduction of the brown tree snake, this tiny Pacific Island lost nearly all of its bird populations. With them went all of the ecosystem services they performed. Joining...Show More

Ep. 95 - Epiphyte Restoration

32:11 | Feb 12th, 2017

Protecting and restoring biodiversity to tropical forests is paramount to maintaining the ecological integrity of these areas. My guest today is Estefania Fernandez and she is working in a brand new field of restoration ecology that focuses on epiphy...Show More

Ep. 94 - Winter Botanizing

27:36 | Feb 5th, 2017

This week we head out into the prairie to do some winter botanizing. We meet a handful of cool plants along the way. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, C...Show More

Ep. 93 - Botanizing Ichetucknee Springs

33:32 | Jan 29th, 2017

This week we are doing something a little different. We're trading in our hiking boots for a kayak and a paddle. We're going for a paddle on the Ichetucknee River. The crystal clear water was chock full of botanical treasures of all kinds. We were jo...Show More

Ep. 92 - The Flora of Middle-Earth

41:34 | Jan 22nd, 2017

This week's interview is one of the most unique that I have had to date. Joining us this week is Dr. Walter Judd, distinguished professor, emeritus from the University of Florida. Dr. Judd specialized in plant systematics, specifically the taxonomy o...Show More

Ep. 91 - Botanizing a Long Leaf Pine Savanna

1:05:24 | Jan 16th, 2017

This week we take an enlightening hike through a long leaf pine savanna. Our guide is botanist extraordinaire, Dr. Mark Whitten of the Florida Museum of Natural History. I learned a lot on this hike through one of North America's most biodiverse habi...Show More

Ep. 90 - Reflections on Science

1:18:31 | Jan 8th, 2017

This week we are joined by Steven Fleck of The Field Guides Podcast for a fun delve into the life and thoughts of a couple of grad students. We touch on life as a grad student, how reading scientific research can help maintain a critical lens on the ...Show More

Ep. 89 - Conversations on Forest Health

48:51 | Jan 1st, 2017

Forest health is a complicated topic. It means something different to nearly everyone you ask. However, the ecological component of this concept is vital to the success of any patch of forest. That is where people like Dr. David Coyle come in. David ...Show More

Ep. 88 - Plant Diversity and Systematics

56:38 | Dec 25th, 2016

Lately I have been thinking a lot about plant diversity. Sure, the early days of plant exploration are long behind us, however, there are still plenty of botanical mysteries yet to be discovered. This goes so much deeper than simple fame and glory to...Show More

Ep. 87 - Fire in the Forest

1:00:17 | Dec 18th, 2016

I have been thinking about fire a lot these days. In the wake of recent forest fires in the southeast, I wanted to take a closer look at what fires mean for ecosystems other than prairies. To do this, I brought on my good friend and lab mate, Tyler R...Show More

Ep. 86 - Plant Propagation at Kew

46:48 | Dec 11th, 2016

Personally, I think plant propagation is one of the most important skills anyone can have. That is why I was so excited to talk with my guest this week. Rebecca Hilgenhof is a Botanical Horticulturist at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. She has th...Show More

Ep. 85 - Plant Conservation in the Modern Era

50:19 | Dec 4th, 2016

When it comes to conservation, plants have largely been overlooked. We tend to spend a lot more time with "charismatic" species of animal. For instance, 100% of the world's known threatened and endangered animals have been assessed by the IUCN wherea...Show More

Ep. 84 - Project Pine Cone and Other Botanical Adventures

46:15 | Nov 27th, 2016

Pine cones are fascinating structures. These scaly organs are the female reproductive structures of conifers. As children we collect them, throw them, decorate them, and even smother them in peanut butter and seeds to attract birds. My guest today ta...Show More

Ep. 83 - The Sedge-isode

51:50 | Nov 20th, 2016

Sedges. This wonderfully diverse group of grass-like plants can be quite intimidating to those who are new to the world of plant identification. Sedges are to botanists as shore birds are to birders. Because of this, sedges are often glazed over as y...Show More

Ep. 82 - Environmental Action: Putting Your Energy to Good Use

55:45 | Nov 13th, 2016

There are a lot of angry people out there. However, sitting on your couch and being apathetic is no good. Join me for a conversation with my good friend Bill Michalek about channeling your energy into environmental action. When Bill isn't teaching he...Show More

Ep. 81 - Contemplations on Biocontrol

47:53 | Nov 6th, 2016

No matter where you stand on the topic of invasive species, they are a force we must reckon with. My guest on this episode is working intimately with the ecology of an invasive tree known commonly as Tree of Heaven. Kristen Wickert is a PhD student a...Show More

Ep. 80 - Lichens and Their Conservation

39:35 | Oct 30th, 2016

Lichens are everywhere and we hardly ever notice them. Aside from their beauty and interesting symbiotic relationships, lichens are also crucial components of their environment. Today we are joined by Jessica Allen, a PhD student who is devoting her ...Show More

Ep. 79 - A Lifetime With Orchids

1:07:32 | Oct 23rd, 2016

Today we are joined by Tom Mirenda. Tom has the unique position of Orchid Collections Specialist for the Smithsonian Institute. At somewhere around 8,000 plants, this is no small task. He has spent his life loving and caring for orchids and when he i...Show More

Ep. 78 - A Focus On Native Bees

41:42 | Oct 16th, 2016

North America is home to a plethora of native bees. Sadly, they are a bit of a mystery. Overshadowed by non-native honey bees, many of our native species are in serious trouble. That is where scientists like Dr. Alexandra Harmon-Threatt come in. An a...Show More

Ep. 77 - Native Plants and the Human Environment - A Landscape Architect's Perspective

46:43 | Oct 9th, 2016

Landscape architects have a unique position. They get to decide the way in which we utilize different plant species in the human environment. The push for using native plants has never been greater and rightly so. Native plants are the cornerstone of...Show More

Ep. 76 - Broomrapes: A Celebration of an Interesting Family of Parasitic Plants

42:44 | Oct 2nd, 2016

Parasites have earned themselves a bad reputation in our society. We often see them as nauseating freeloaders. This could not be farther from the truth. More and more we are starting to realize just how important parasites are in any given ecosystem....Show More

Ep. 75 - The Question Show!

50:59 | Sep 25th, 2016

It's here! The long awaited question show has arrived. Over the last few weeks listeners have been submitting their botanical questions for me to answer. I got some great questions and it was really fun doing the research in hope of providing satisfa...Show More

Ep. 74 - Plants That Eat Animals: A Conversation With The Carnivore Girl

55:24 | Sep 18th, 2016

While looking for a unique and interesting photography subject, Maria Fulmer set her sights on a Venus fly trap. From that artistic exploration The Carnivore Girl was born. It isn't hard to get bit by the carnivorous plant bug. However, an unfortunat...Show More

Ep. 73- On Milkweeds and Monarchs: The Search for a Smoking Gun

45:22 | Sep 11th, 2016

Monarchs have become the poster child for protecting, conserving, and restoring native flora. Over the last decade monarchs have witnessed massive declines in their numbers. This has led to a lot of speculation as to what might be causing such declin...Show More

Ep. 72 - In Search of a Peculiar Parasitic Orchid

34:52 | Sep 5th, 2016

This week we go in search of an interesting little parasite. Known scientifically as Corallorhiza odontorhiza, the autumn coralroot orchid haunts the forest floor throughout much of eastern North America. Despite this wide distribution, it is never v...Show More

Ep. 71 - Nepenthes and Other Botanical Treasures with Stewart McPherson

1:02:21 | Aug 28th, 2016

Getting bit by the carnivorous plant bug can lead to a lifelong obsession with these botanical wonders. That is exactly what has happened to Stewart McPherson. He has dedicated his life to finding, photographing, and naming these amazing organisms. H...Show More

Ep. 70 - The Great Thismia Hunt

37:26 | Aug 21st, 2016

Thismia americana was unique to Chicago. Unfortunately it hasn't been seen in 100 years. That minor detail didn't stop a group of us from heading out to the spot where it was last sighted to see if we couldn't relocate this peculiar little parasite. ...Show More

Ep. 69 - Mallows, Clovers, and Questions

34:21 | Aug 14th, 2016

The Kankakee mallow is getting a lot of attention this month and rightly so. The Langham Island population is flowering for the first time in over a decade! I checked in with Robb Telfer to get some updates on the push for making the Kankakee mallow ...Show More

Ep. 68 - From Seed to Orchid: A Behind the Scenes Look at Orchid Conservation

36:12 | Aug 7th, 2016

Growing orchids from seed is no simple task. It's not a matter of throwing seeds in soil and waiting for nature to take its course. That is where people like Matt Richards come in. Using specific laboratory techniques, Matt has made a career out of p...Show More

Ep. 67 - For the Love of Moss

50:04 | Jul 31st, 2016

For Dr. Lily Lewis, a love for mosses came early. This passion for bryophytes has taken her far up into Alaska and all the way down into Subarctic Chile. She has made some incredible discoveries along the way. From the feces of mammals to the feather...Show More

Ep. 66 - Botanizing the Atlanta Botanical Garden Pt. 2

1:05:57 | Jul 24th, 2016

The long awaited sequel to our behind the scenes tour of the Atlanta Botanical Garden is here! Listen as Plant Recorder, Mike Wenzel shows us the amazing botanical diversity within the garden. We meet orchids, carnivorous plants, and even Amborella! ...Show More

Ep. 65 - Botanizing the Atlanta Botanical Garden Pt. 1

42:49 | Jul 17th, 2016

The opportunity to go behind the scenes at a place like the Atlanta Botanical Garden doesn't come often. As such, a few of us jumped on the opportunity to do so. Led by their resident Plant Recorder, Mike Wenzel, we were taken on a day-long adventure...Show More

Ep. 64 - Bryophyting

55:30 | Jul 10th, 2016

When you meet someone like today's guest, you hold on to them tightly and make them go hiking with you. I met Sarah Hecocks earlier this summer. She joined our research station as a seasonal avian tech. However, she wasn't into birds alone. Sarah has...Show More

Ep. 63 - In Search of an Appalachian Bog

55:42 | Jul 3rd, 2016

Bogs are not a common occurrence in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. That's why when we heard rumors of a re spruce bog not far from where we are staying we had to check it out. Join my friends and I on a journey to find this bog. Along the way we...Show More

Ep. 62 - In Search of the Mountain Camellia (Stewartia ovata)

31:33 | Jun 26th, 2016

Up until a little over a week ago I had no idea mountain camellia existed. Belonging to the same family of plants that give us tea, Stewartia ovata is something you have to see to believe. Had I not been briefed in advance, I probably would have thou...Show More

Ep. 61 - Building the Angiosperm Tree of Life

42:21 | Jun 19th, 2016

If you have paid attention to flowering plant taxonomy over the last few decades you have undoubtedly come across the work of Dr.'s Pam and Doug Soltis. Evolutionary geneticists by training, these two have devoted their lives to figuring out the rela...Show More

Ep. 60 - Orchid Bees and Deciduous Trees

38:05 | Jun 12th, 2016

People like Dr. Mark Whitten are why I started this podcast. In the context of botany, Mark is the real deal. He started his academic career studying the interaction between orchids from genera such as Stanhopea, Catasetum, and Gongora and the orchid...Show More

Ep. 59 - Herbaria Revisited

21:24 | Jun 6th, 2016

A visit to The Field Museum in Chicago is always an adventure. You never know who you might run into. On a recent visit I had the honor of sitting down for a chat with one of the herbarium collections managers, Christine Niezgoda. She has dedicated h...Show More

Ep. 58 - Saving the Rainforest

45:32 | May 29th, 2016

"Save the rainforest." It is probably the most pervasive meme in environmentalism. It means a lot of different things to many different people, but what does it mean in practice? How do we save the rainforest? This week's guest is working on exactly ...Show More

Ep. 57 - The Fascinating World of Liverworts

55:39 | May 22nd, 2016

Say liverwort to some random person on the street and you are going to get some funny looks. Say it to the right person, however, and brace yourself because you are about to enter into a world hundreds of millions of years in the making. Liverworts r...Show More

Ep. 56 - Tales from the Field

1:20:09 | May 15th, 2016

Field season has arrived for many of us. Others have been in the field for weeks by now. Whether you study plants, fish, or geology, field work brings with it a sense of fun and adventure. It also comes with its own set of challenges. In celebration ...Show More

Ep. 55 - For the Love of Ferns

48:46 | May 8th, 2016

Who doesn't love ferns? After all, they represent one of the oldest lineages of plants on our planet. Far from being lowly curiosities living out their lives in the shade of their flowering cousins, ferns are incredibly complex organisms with astound...Show More

Ep. 54 - Megafaunal Dispersal Syndrome feat. Ryan from Science... sort of

1:15:04 | Apr 30th, 2016

What could be cooler than an evolutionary anachronism? It is fun to think about all of the plants on this planet that once shared their habitats with now extinct megafauna like giant ground sloths, mammoths, and gomphotheres. Well, there is a school ...Show More

Ep. 53 - Getting to Know the Carnivorous Yellow Butterwort (Pinguicula lutea)

1:16:15 | Apr 24th, 2016

Butterwort may sound like a silly name for a plant, however, the genus to which the name refers is anything but. The genus Pinguicula houses some of the most beautiful carnivorous plants on the planet. Despite their intriguing nature, we know very li...Show More

Ep. 52 - Flower Phenology: A Story of Tradeoffs

33:17 | Apr 17th, 2016

Being sessile organisms, plants have to be able to cope with changes in their environment in unique ways. One of the major challenges plants face is knowing when to flower. Whereas some species stick to steadfast schedules, others have evolved some f...Show More