Ep. 179 - Demystifying Orchids

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 these plants. This is one of the main reasons why orchids are also subject to a lot of speculation. My guest today is here to talk about why orchids are so mysterious and to set the record straight on a handful of orchid stories. Joining us from the Lankester Botanical Garden in Costa Rica is orchid specialist Dr. Adam Karremans. Dr. Karremans studies orchid diversity and ecology and he has set out to write a book all about the mysterious world of orchids. The better we get to know these plants, the better we can work to conserve them and the habitats they need for survival. This episode was produced in part by 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. 178 - Forest Conservation in Laos

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 the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden are working hard to ensure that the forests of Laos do not meet the same fate as those in places like Indonesia, Combodia, and Vietnam. Joining us to talk about what Pha Tad Ke is doing to empower the people of Laos is botanist Bryony Smart. Join us for an enlightening discussion about what it is going to take in order to ensure Laos has a prosperous and verdant future. This episode was produced in part by 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. 177 - Serpentine Specialists & Their Evolution

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 toxic metals and low in precious nutrients. As such, the plants that live there have evolved a variety of coping mechanisms. Its these coping mechanisms that interest Shelley Sianta as they may be at the root of why we see such high rates of endemism on these toxic soils. Listen in for a fascinating exploration of plant evolution. This episode was produced in part by Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Lisa, 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. 176 - On Pawpaw and Floral Mimicry

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 us is Dr. Kate Goodrich, a chemical ecologist from Widener University who studies floral chemistry in the context of mimicry. Her system of interest involves pawpaw and other Asimina species, whose flowers take on strange fermented odors. Join us for a fascinating dive into the world of what makes a flower a good mimic. This episode was produced in part by Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Lisa, 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. 175 - Conserving Tree Diversity

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 utilize a wide variety of data from fossils to DNA in order to make sound scientific decisions regarding preserving tree diversity into the future. Listen and enjoy as we discuss his work with some of the world's most regal organisms. This episode was produced in part by Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Lisa, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

Follow Dr. Hoban on Twitter - @seanmhoban

Learn more about some of the other work going on in Dr. Hoban's lab - HERE and HERE

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Ep. 174 - Botanical Chemistry

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 understanding plant chemistry on a deeper level. The realm of plant chemistry is massive but with any luck we will hopefully have inspired some of you to consider it much deeper. This episode was produced in part by Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Lisa, 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. 173 - What the Dogbane Family Can Teach Us About Pollination

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. Joining us is University of Northampton professor Dr. Jeff Ollerton who, among other things, studies members of the family Apocynaceae as a model system for the complexities of plant/pollinator interactions. This family of plants contains many familiar species and many you may have never heard of before. Join us for a fascinating discussion about this charismatic group of plants. This episode was produced in part by: Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Lisa, 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. 172 - Pinosaur Conservation: An Introduction to the Wollemi Pine

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 wonderful species. Join us for a conversation all about Wollemia nobilis. This episode was produced in part by: Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Lisa, 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. 171 - Restoring Plants & Saving a Salamander

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 working hard at bringing the endangered flatwoods salamander back from the brink of extinction. To do so, they must first restore the longleaf pine habitats it relies on. Such work has turned this amphibian and reptile lover into a plant lover as well. Join Pierson and me for a discussion about fire, plant restoration, and the salamander they are so desperately trying to save. This episode was produced in part by: Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Lisa, 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. 170 - Saving an Orchid Collection & Starting a Botanical Garden

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 and starting his own botanical garden. Michael is a true inspiration to all plant growers and this is one conversation you don't want to miss.This episode was produced in part by: Mohsin, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Tim, Philip, Lisa, Brent, Leticia, 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. 169 - Herbaria Are Data Gold Mines

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 they can be to everyone from scientists to artists, and even the general public. As you will hear, we herbaria succeed, so do the plants they help understand. This episode was produced in part by: Mohsin, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Tim, Philip, Lisa, Brent, Leticia, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

Follow Katelin on Twitter - @themerekat

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Ep. 168 - Orchid Conservation at Mt. Cuba Center

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 scientists, Mt. Cuba Center's orchid conservation efforts are serving as a model for other organizations and communities to work together to protect North America's terrestrial orchid species. This episode was produced in part by: Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Tim, Philip, Lisa, Brent, Leticia, 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. 167 - Trial Gardens at Mt. Cuba Center

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 for an over-production of sepals and petals that can be so dense that they preclude visitation by pollinators. It would seem that nativars are a slippery slope to yet another sterile landscape incapable of supporting biodiversity. However, anecdotes don’t equal data and that is where places like Mt. Cuba Center come in. Located in northern Delaware, Mt. Cuba is doing something quite amazing for the sake of environmentally friendly landscaping – they are putting plants to the test. Joining us today is Manager of Horticultural Research, George Coomb to talk about what Mt. Cuba Center's trial gardens are all about. This episode was produced in part by Benjammin, Eli, Rachael, Stephanie, Philip, Henriette, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Anthony, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

Click here to learn more about the Mt. Cuba Center's trial gardens

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

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-dispersing ants. Joining us for this discussion is Dr. Robert Warren, a professor at SUNY Buffalo State, who studies the ecology of a handful of these wonderful ants and the plants they interact with. This episode was produced in part by Benjammin, Eli, Rachael, Stephanie, Philip, Henriette, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Anthony, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 165 - Cacti Explorer

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 plants. Please join us for a fascinating discussion about botanical passion and discovery. This episode was produced in part by Rachael, Stephanie, Philip, Henriette, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Anthony, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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

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 plants can teach us about big picture ecological topics. Now, together with a team of collaborators, Dr.'s Ellison and Adamec have put together a modern synthesis about the myriad carnivorous plants with which we share this planet. This is a fascinating discussion that you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Philip, Henriette, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Anthony, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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Ep. 163 - A Lifetime With Gesneriads

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 you. Jay has been growing genre such as Gesneria, Kohleria, Nautilocalyx, Nematanthus, Primulina, and Sinningia for years and has an intimate knowledge of their biology. He is also an active member of The Gesneriad Society, an international organization dedicated to growing these wonderful plants. Join us for a passionate discussion about all things Gesneriaceae. This episode was produced in part by Philip, Henriette, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Anthony, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.


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Ep. 162 - Of Dinosaurs and Plants

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 shaped them, and this certainly included interactions with plants. Plant eating dinosaurs were some of the largest organisms to ever walk this earth and my guest today studies exactly that. Join the Natural History Museum in London's Dr Paul Barrett and I as we discuss herbivory in ancient dinosaur lineages. This episode was produced in part by Philip, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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

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 flowers produce a large, water-filled bucket that traps fragrance-collecting bees, forcing them into pollinating the orchid. We also hear from my good friend and graphic designer, Thom Pirson, about the new In Defense of Plants stickers that he designed! This is one episode you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Philip, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Daniella, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sami & Sven, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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

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

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 Dalechampia as what he likes to call "a non-mode, model system" for studying the evolutionary ecology of pollinator syndromes. Dalechampia are largely pollinated by resin- and fragrance-collecting bees. Join us for a fascinating dive into this wonderfully weird genus. This episode was produced in part by Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Daniella, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sami & Sven, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.

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