Ep. 138 - The Botanical Wonders of Southeast Asia

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 are what drive Kew's Head of Identification and Naming and Senior Research Leader (Asia) Dr. Tim Utteridge. His love for finding and describing plants is readily apparent. Join us for a fun discussion about what it is like working with tropical Asia's plant life. This episode was produced in part by Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sami & Sven, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, and Laura.

Follow Dr. Utteridge on Twitter - @timutteridge

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Ep. 137 - Question Show #2!

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 learning and discovery. This episode was produced in part by Kevin, Katherina, Sami & Sven, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, and Laura :)

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Ep. 136 - Uncovering Antarctica's Forested Past

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. Erik Gulbranson is part paleoecologist and part paleoclimatologist and what he and his collaborators are learning from these fossilized ecosystems not only helps us understand how life responded to climate change in the past, but also how it may respond in the future. This is one you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitilin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, and Laura.

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

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 to understanding and protecting these so-called living fossils. This episode was produced in part by Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitilin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, and Laura.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum's work

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Ep. 134 - Growing Gondwana Relicts

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 hopes of buffering our world against the 6th mass extinction. Robbie is especially interested in members of the family Proteaceae but plenty of other plants factor into this as well. As Robbie so eloquently put it, "If humanity has a future then that future lies in the ands of people that know about plants." This episode was produced in part by Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitilin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, and Laura.

Click here to learn more about Robbie's work and to donate

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

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 concepts of sustainability, ecology, and ecosystem connectivity, into a giant design challenge for the planet. Listen and learn! This episode was produced in part by Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitilin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, and Laura. 

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

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 interesting way. We also discuss what this means for oak conservation around the globe. If you love oaks, this is one episode you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Allan, Irene, Clifton, Sebastian, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

Check out the paper by clicking here!

Learn about the work of Dr. Jeannine Cavender-Bares

Learn about the work of Dr. Andrew Hipp

Learn about the work of Dr. Paul Manos

Watch our oak video!

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

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 him that we can learn a lot about the past by studying the present. Since then he has gained a deep understanding of not only the history of this amazing lineage but also what it can teach us about mass extinction events. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Irene, Clifton, Sebastian, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

Click here to learn more about Jeff's work.

Follow Jeff on Twitter - @jeffbenca

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Ep. 130 - A Passion For Passion Flowers

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 this group and I can't think of a better person to dish out an eloquent introduction to these wonderful plants. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Irene, Clifton, Sebastian, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

Click here to listen to Rebecca's last interview

Follow her on Twitter - @passifloratree

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

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 about our mutual love for growing plants and our journey through the world of podcasting. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Clifton, Sebastian, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

Click here to listen to The SodShow

Click here to find out more about Donegan Landscaping

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Ep. 128 - Native Plant Appreciation

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 centered around celebrating native flora. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Clifton, Sebastian, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark. 

Click here to learn more about John's landscape work

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

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 where a botanist fits in to this system. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Clifton, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark. 

Click here to learn more about Amy's work

Follow Amy on Twitter - @AmyHruska

Check out Amy's blog

Learn more about the Hawai'i VINE Project

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Ep. 126 - For The Love Of Growing Plants

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 plants in space, botanical horticulture is vital. Join us for a fun discussion about what its like to be a professional plant grower at Fairchild Botanical Garden. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Clifton, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark. 

Click here to learn more about Dr. Husby's work

Follow Dr. Husby on Twitter - @ChadHusby

Click here to learn more about Fairchild Botanical Garden

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Ep. 125 - A Conversation With The Plant Messiah

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) back from the brink of extinction. Join me for a discussion with this plant whisperer. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Clifton, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark. 

Click here to learn more about Carlos' work

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Ep. 124 - Darwin's Backyard

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 this book wasn't exciting enough, each chapter concludes with DIY instructions on how you and your friends and family can replicate some of Darwin's experiments in your own backyard. This is one conversation you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Allan, Clifton, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark. 

Click here to order your own copy of Darwin's Backyard

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Ep. 123 - Legumes and Their Nitrogen-Fixing Partners

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. Katy Heath is a plant person at heart and she brings that passion with her to her lab as she tries to understand these evolutionary processes. Join us for a fascinating discussion about this system. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Clifton, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Heath's work

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Ep. 122 - Understanding Ferns and Lycophytes

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 interrelationships of these two great lineages and even offers the listener a unique opportunity to collaborate. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

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Ep. 121 - Mosquitoes: The Unlikely Pollinators

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 pollinators. In this episode we take a closer look at an orchid that relies on mosquitoes for pollination. The one leaved rein orchid (Platanthera obtusata) grows in close association with mosquitoes and our guests, postdoc Chloé Lahondère and grad student Ryo Okubo are working hard to understand how this system works. Their research not only helps us understand these overlooked pollinators but also provides deeper insights into how mosquitoes find their food sources. This is a great example of the kind of collaborative science I love!

Click here to learn more about the orchid

Click here to learn more about their work

Click here to learn more about the neural behavior of mosquitoes

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Ep. 120 - Understanding Rapid 'Ohi'a Death

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 guest, Dr. James B. Friday. Together with multiple different stakeholders, they are trying to understand how these fungi got to the island and what can be done to protect Hawai'i's most famous tree. Allan, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

Click here to learn more about Rapid 'Ohi'a Death

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Ep. 119 - Plant Architecture

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 themselves structurally, 3) Plants have to conduct water to their various tissues, and 4) Plants must be able to reproduce effectively. Using these basic constraints, Dr. Niklas builds mathematical simulations of plant evolution. Join us for a fascinating dive into the biophysical world of plant evolution. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Daniel, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

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