Ep. 208 - Saving Florida's Native Plants

"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 and conserve these plants. As you can imaging, this is not easy to do in a state whose population continues to grow. Saving Florida's native plants requires a dynamic and collaborative approach that involves bringing as many people to the table as possible. Join us as we discuss what the Florida Native Plant Society is doing to protect biodiversity. This episode is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Mark Whitten. This episode was produced in part by Catherine, Brandon, Hall, Vegreville Creek and Wetlands Fund, Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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

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 works at the interface between plants and the soil environment where we are only just beginning to understand some of the most important processes on our planet. From dying microbes to plant exudates, Ron's work is helping us form a more complete picture of the role soil plays in storing carbon. This episode was produced in part by Brandon, Hall, Vegreville Creek and Wetlands Fund, Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 206 - Lovely Louisiana Botany

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 well as some warm weather. Along the way we explored cypress/tupelo swamps, hiked long leaf pine savannas, and came face to face with a few gators. Louisiana is home to some incredible plant life and we were very fortunate to meet some of them. This episode was produced in part by Brandon, Hall, Vegreville Creek and Wetlands Fund, Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

NOTE: The Tung tree (Vernicia fordii) mentioned in this episode is a member of the family Euphorbiaceae, not a member of Malvaceae.

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Ep. 205 - Mad About Manzanitas

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 his career to uncovering the ecology and evolution of the manzanita lineage. From mutualistic relationships with rodents and fungi to their dependence on fire, you will soon find that manzanitas play an important role in the ecology of California's natural ecosystems. It is time we start paying these plants the respect they deserve and I hope this episode is a good start to doing just that. This episode was produced in part by Hall, Vegreville Creek and Wetlands Fund, Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 204 - Asteraceae Addiction

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 identify. However, none of this has stopped my guest Joey Santore from taking a deep dive into the world of asters. What started as mostly curiosity with a hint of intimidation has since blossomed into a full on addiction with trying to get his head wrapped around the story of these plants. Along the way he is doing everything he can to share his passion with anyone who will listen in hopes that he can spark a love affair with botany in someone else's mind. Join us as we geek out about Asteraceae. Be warned, there is some strong language in this episode. This episode was produced in part by Vegreville Creek and Wetlands Fund, Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 203 - Oaks: Insights into Evolution & Ecology

Oaks are some of the most charismatic trees on the planet. They are 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 physiological and evolutionary ecologist Dr. Jeannine Cavender-Bares. Her career in science has focused heavily on oaks both from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. From the shape of their leaves to their role in carbon sequestration, Dr. Cavender-Bares is fascinated by how these trees evolved to become some of the dominant trees in the Americas. Join us as we gain some incredible insights from oaks. This episode was produced in part by Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 202 - Getting to the Root of Roots

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 the origin and evolution of these amazing structures. Joining us from Magdalen College in the UK is plant evolutionary biologist Dr. Sandy Hetherington whose work spans hundreds of millions of years of root history. Join us as we explore the early days of root evolution and learn how things like fungal symbionts and a lack of organic matter set the course for root evolution. As you will hear, this work also relies heavily on museum and herbarium collections, underscoring the importance of preserving these important data goldmines. This episode was produced in part by Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 201 - Plants of the Caribbean

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. Joining us is Sara Bárrios, Kew's Islands Conservation Partnership Co-ordinator. Join us as we learn what Sara and her colleagues are doing for the plants of this biodiversity hotspot. This episode was produced in part by Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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

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 questions I get revolves around which books I recommend. And because In Defense of Plants wouldn't be where it is today without the wonderful support of listeners like you, I thought it would be great to dedicate the 200th episode to a list of books worthy of your time. Joining us to discuss our reading adventures is the wonderful Sara Johnson, who has brought some great recommendations to the table. So join us as we talk about some of our favorite botanical/natural history themed reads.

Books in this episode:

1. Alice in the Land of Plants: Biology of Plants and Their Importance for Planet Earth - Yiannis Manetas

2. Readers Digest North American Wildlife

3. Nature's Palette: The Science of Plant Color - David Lee

4. A Sand County Almanac - Aldo Leopold

5. A Natural History of Conifers - Aljos Farjon

6. The Orchid Thief - Susan Orlean

7. The Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants of the World by Fred Dortort

8. Earthly Pleasures - Roger B. Swain

9. The Flowering of Gondwana - Mary E. White, Jim Frazier

10. Gods of the Morning - John Lister-Kaye

11. Flora: Inside the Secret World of Plants by Helen Fewster, Megan Douglass, Karyn Gerhard, Jamie Ambrose, Ross Bayton, Matt Candeias, Sarah Jose, Andrew Mikolajski, Esther Ripley, David Summers

This episode was produced in part by Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 199 - Understanding Rainforests Through Evolution

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 Couvreur. Throughout this episode we get a look at how fundamental scientific questions can unlock a wealth of knowledge about the history of our planet. We also gain an appreciation for the fact that you never know where important data are going to come from. This episode was produced in part by Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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

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 do. Joining us to talk about these efforts is Dr. Malin Rivers who is Head of Conservation Prioritization for BGCI. She and her colleagues are working hard to gather data from a multitude of sources in order to better understand the myriad threats to tree species from all over the globe. From trying to put a number on all known tree species to working with local governments to properly assess and implement sound conservation efforts, the Global Tree Specialist Group is working hard to do its part to understand and protect tree diversity. This episode was produced in part by John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 197 - Below the Surface of Aquascaping

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. Planted aquariums provide you with a unique view of the underwater world without ever having to get your feet wet. Whether you simply like to look at planted aquariums or get your hands wet in designing and constructing your own, there is no end to the joy you can get from bring aquatic plants into your home. My guest today was bitten by the aquarium bug and hasn't looked back since. Marvin Lo is an aquascaper extraordinaire who enjoys combining botany and artistry into amazing planted aquaria. Join us for a deep dive into the world of aquascaping and learn about some of the amazing plants that make this hobby what it is today. This episode was produced in part by John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 196 - Agave are Awesome!

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 in form, Agave still have many secrets to discover. Join Dr. Jeff Lake and me for an exploration of what makes the Agave so special. This episode was produced in part by Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 195 - Chollas, Prickly Pears, and Biodiversity

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 flora of southern California and the Baja Peninsula. Dr. Rebman believes in maintaining a classical botanist’s approach to his work and as you will hear in our conversation, this has been quite fruitful. Thanks to Dr. Rebman and his colleagues, we have a deeper understanding of the flora of this region but there is still plenty of more work to be done. Join us for a fascinating discussion of botanical discovery. This episode was produced in part by Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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

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 time to finding dwindling plant populations around the state, collecting seed, and propagating them in order to preserve at least some of the genetic legacy of this species. People like Bill are an inspiration to us all so join us as we discuss some of the philosophical reasons why Bill does what he does. This is one episode you do not want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 193 - Begonias!

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 signs of slowing up. MY guest today is Dr. Peter Moonlight from The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. His work on this amazing family of plants has greatly increased our understanding of not only the mechanisms driving their diversity but also their biogeographic history. You will also learn that Begonias have a lot to teach us about both herbarium collections as well as ex situ propagation. This is one episode you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 192 - Australia's Alpine Flora

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 diverse and understanding their ecology has become more important than ever. This episode was produced in part by Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 191 - The Changing Forests of the Andes

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 of his work looking at the forests of the Andes Mountains. You will soon learn just how difficult it can be to study such a biodiverse region. Nonetheless, Dr. Feeley and his colleagues are putting in great efforts to collect vital data on these species to help us better understand and act on conservation efforts. This episode was produced in part by Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 190 - A Love Affair With Palms

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 an apprentice at the world renowned Florabunda Palm Nursery working under the tutelage Jeff and Suchin Marcus. What follows is a wonderful discussion about botanical passion and intrigue.This episode was produced in part by Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 189 - When Palms Grew in Wyoming

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 spin. Earth was experiencing a warming period and the plants had responded accordingly. Tropical species like palms were thriving in places like Wyoming and giant relatives of the redwoods covered much of North America and Asia. What Dr. Allen and her colleagues are learning about Eocene plant communities is not only interesting in its own right, it is helping scientists understand how ecosystems may respond to climate change into the future. This episode was produced in part by Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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