Ep. 234 - Mycorrhizal Fungi & Some Plants That Trick Them

The relationship between plants and mycorrhizal fungi is often painted as a beautiful, altruistic relationship, the reality is far more complex than that. Though this is one of the most important relationships on the planet, we still have a lot to learn about how plants and mycorrhizal fungi interact. Some of the most mysterious relationships between plants and fungi come from specialized parasitic plants called mycoheterotrophs or "fungus-eaters." My guest today is someone who has devoted her career to better understanding the spectrum of relationships that can form between plants, their roots, and different mycorrhizal fungi. Join University of Hawai'i at Manoa Assistant Professor Dr. Nicole Hynson and me as we dive into the incredible world of plant/fungal interactions. This episode was produced in part by Joanna, Griff, Philip, Paul, Matthew, Clark, Bobby, Kate, Steven, Brittney, McMansion Hell, Joey, 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, 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. 233 - Australia's Carnivorous Bounty

Today we are joined by carnivorous plant expert and botanist extraordinaire, Greg Bourke. Greg is the Curator Manager of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney's Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. He is deeply passionate about finding and understanding Australia's bewildering variety of carnivorous plants. From describing new species and even genera to spreading the word about plant conservation, Greg's life is steeped in plants. Join us as we nerd out about Australia's carnivorous plants. This episode was produced in part by Joanna, Griff, Philip, Paul, Matthew, Clark, Bobby, Kate, Steven, Brittney, McMansion Hell, Joey, 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, 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. 229 - Compositae Cliffhangers

This episode is a real cliffhanger because we are delving into the wild world of rock daisies in the tribe Perityleae. These obscure composites live a perilous life clinging to scattered vertical rock cliffs throughout parts of southwestern North America. Joining us to talk about the rock daisies is UC Berkeley PhD student, Isaac Marck. As you will hear, Isaac and his colleagues are uncovering amazing information about these plants that paint a fascinating picture about evolution and conservation in dry climates. This episode was produced in part by Griff, Philip, Paul, Matthew, Clark, Bobby, Kate, Steven, Brittney, McMansion Hell, Joey, 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, 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. 223 - The Magnificence of Milkweeds

In this episode, we take a deep dive into the world of milkweeds. The genus Asclepias has been made famous due to the plight of the monarch butterfly, whose larvae feed on nothing else. Though we tend to focus our attention on only a handful of milkweeds, these plants are incredibly diverse and have a lot to teach us about ecology, evolution, and biogeography. Joining us to talk about this incredible group is the Milkweed Guy himself, Dr. Mark Fishbein. Dr. Fishbein and his colleagues are working hard on piecing together the history of Asclepias in North America. If you thought milkweeds were incredible plants before, this conversation will certainly amplify your appreciation for these incredible plants. This episode was produced in part by Kate, Steven, Brittney, McMansion Hell, Joey, 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. 220 - The Sex Lives of Yuccas

Yuccas are cool plants just based on appearances but their pollination ecology is downright fascinating. All members of the genus Yucca rely on moths for pollination and the moths themselves could not exist if it wasn't for Yucca flowers. What started as a parasitic relationship has since evolved into an extremely specific mutualism. Join Syracuse University's Dr. Kari Segraves and I as we discuss her research on this system and learn what Yucca pollination can teach us about evolutionary arms races, parasites, and climate change. This episode was produced in part by Steven, Brittney, McMansion Hell, Joey, 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. 216 - Dying Bees, Wasp Venom, and other Strange Floral Scents

Today we focus on a group of plants whose floral morphology and chemistry are sure to blow your mind. Join Dr. Anne Heiduk and me as we discuss the bizarre chemical ecology of Ceropegia. Members of this genus have gained a lot of popularity as houseplants in recent years but we still know very little about how they behave in the wild. From dying bees and wasp venom, to rotting meat and possibly even fly sex pheromones, there seems to be no end to how much trickery Ceropegia have evolved to dupe flies into pollinating their flowers. What's more, this research goes far beyond pollination ecology. As you will hear, Dr. Heiduk and her colleagues are unlocking new insights into chemistry, physiology, neurobiology, entomology, and even mycology! This episode was produced in part by Joey, 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. 213 - Buzzing Bees and the Floral Microbiome

We tend to view pollination as an altruistic blending of plant and animal behavior but altruistic it is not. Both plants and their pollinators are trying to get as much as they can out of the relationship while giving as little in return as possible. What really blows my mind is just how much we still have yet to learn about this vital ecological process. That is where scientists like Dr. Avery Russell come in. Dr. Russell specializes in pollinator behavior in the context of the various drivers that push bees towards specialist lifestyles. Along the way we will learn about how the floral microbiome may be influencing the evolution of these relationships. If you truly care about plants and their pollinators, this is one episode you do not want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Joseph, Cat, 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. 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. 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. 188 - On the Origin of Flowering Plants

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 that is exactly what our guest today focuses on. Joining us is Dr. Nan Crystal Arens from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Her work on angiosperms of the early Cretaceous has given us insights into the evolutionary pressures that may have led to the evolution of flowering plants as well as how these early angiosperms made their living in a landscape already vegetated by a preponderance of gymnosperms. If you care at all about the history of plants on this planet, this is one episode you do not want to miss! This episode was produced in part by 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. 183 - On Spiny Solanum & SciComm

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 Solanaceae related to eggplants. We learn how pollinators have played a significant role in the evolution of a peculiar mating system and how that has led to a unique radiation in the genus Solanum. We also explore some of the reasons behind why we think science communication is so important as well as the many ways in which it can be effective and successful. Join us for a wonderful discussion rooted in a mutual love for botany. This episode was produced in part by 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. 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. 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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