Ep. 235 - Orchids at the Center of Cloud Forest Conservation in Ecuador

When Lou Jost and friends realized how quickly the rainforests of Ecuador were disappearing they decided to do something about it. Thus, Fundación EcoMinga was born. Since 2006, Lou and his team have managed to establish seven reserves covering all elevations from 1100m to 3860m. Along the way they have discovered numerous species of plants and animals all thanks to their focus on tiny, epiphytic orchids in the genera Lepanthes and Teagueia. The conservation efforts of Fundación EcoMinga have not gone unnoticed either. Among their many supporters are organizations such as the Orchid Conservation Alliance, the Rainforest Trust, and the World Land Trust. Even Sir David Attenborough has gotten involved! Join me as I sit down with Lou for a conversation about how these orchids are used to guide conservation efforts throughout this incredible biodiverse region of our planet. 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. 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. 228 - Plant Conservation in Action

No one has a monopoly on conservation. If we want to protect wild spaces and the species they support, we need multifaceted, collaborative approaches. Joining us to talk about plant conservation efforts in the southeast is Dr. Emily Coffey, the Vice President of Conservation & Research at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Together with a team of scientists, horticulturists, and volunteers, Dr. Coffey and her colleagues are innovating new ways to both protect and restore biodiversity in one of the most biodiverse regions in North America. Most importantly, Dr. Coffey wants you to know that we have what it takes to save the worlds plant species. All we need is the will to do it. Join us for an in depth look at what state of the art conservation looks like. This episode was produced in part by 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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Ep. 159 - An Orchid That Mimics Aphids?

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 slipper orchid known as Phragmipedium longifolium. This flowers of this beautiful orchid appear to be mimicking aphid infestations. Why is that? Listen and find out ;) 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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Ep. 156 - Botanizing a Lowland Tropical Rainforest in Costa Rica

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 senses as we immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds of the understory. This episode was produced in part by Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Daniella, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sami & Sven, Sophia, 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. 153 - Botany & Culture at Longwood Gardens

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 propagating endangered orchids, Longwood Gardens is at the forefront of botanical education. Join us for a glimpse at what is going on at Longwood Gardens. This episode was produced in part by Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Daniella, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sami & Sven, Sophia, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, and Margie.

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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. 

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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!

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Ep. 118 - Reflections On Summer Botanizing

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 Appalachian Mountains. We bring a lot of interesting species to the table in this episode, each with its own memorable experience. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Daniel, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

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Ep. 102 - Building a Flora of Syria

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 scouring the mountainous regions of western Syria to characterize the seasonal plant diversity. There are many challenges associated with this task so join us for a fascinating discussion of what its like to be a botanist in Syria. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.

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Ep. 79 - A Lifetime With Orchids

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 is not doing that, he is busy lecturing and writing about them. This is a wonderful case in which a passionate hobby has turned into an illustrious career centered around these incredible organisms. This episode was produced in part by Gregory, Mark, Bryan, Laura, Margie, and Allan.

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

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 to explore the myriad plants they have in their collection. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is the real deal and should serve as an example for how other botanical gardens should be run. Mike was an amazingly generous and knowledgeable guide and needless to say we had a blast. So, without further adieu, please enjoy part 1 of our tour. This episode was produced in part by Gregory and Mark.

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Ep. 49 - MuddyBoots Peru

I am one of those people that has always thought of Peru as a giant stretch of Amazonian rainforest. As it turns out, this couldn't be farther from the truth. From dry deserts to high elevation forests, Peru is a wonderfully dynamic place. It is also rich in biodiversity. These are just some of the aspects that inspired Josh Richards to start his own ecotourism company. Josh is using what he has learned over the years to turn this company into something that gives back to the environment. Muddyboots Peru stands out in its mission to go beyond tourism in order to foster a better relationship with Peru's natural heritage. This episode was produced in part by Alan of Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

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Ep. 44 - Litter Trappers

These plants don't worry about soil, they make their own! Because so many species in the tropics grow either epiphytically or in nutrient poor soil, some of them have turned to alternative solutions. Their anatomy is such that they collect everything from dead leaves to bird droppings. A diverse community of soil microbes and invertebrates can then go to work to create nutrient rich humus. What's more, litter trapping abilities can be found in plants as distantly related as ferns and orchids! Join me for an interesting discussion with Dr. Scott Zona, the curator of Florida International University's Werthheim Conservatory to talk about his work finding and describing litter trapping plants. This is one discussion you don't want to miss. 

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Ep. 43 - Orchid Conservation

Many people are surprised to learn that North America is home to over 200 species of orchid. What's more, an embarrassing amount of North America's orchids are threatened with extinction. The plight of this intriguing plant family is an indication of how we are doing as a species. Orchids act as the proverbial canary in a coal mine. That is why Dr. Dennis Whigham, senior botanist for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, created the North America Orchid Conservation Center. Join me for a discussion with Dr. Whigham in which we cover everything from the mutualisms that orchids need to survive to what it is going to take to ensure their survival on this continent. 

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