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. 212 - Monkeyflower Extravaganza!

When Dr. Naomi Fraga started volunteering at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden herbarium, little did she know it would evolve into a total love affair with botanical diversity. Since that time, she has carved out an incredible niche with her work on moneyflowers (Phrymaceae). These charismatic plants offer so much for the curious minds. Join us as we discuss their diversity, taxonomy, and conservation. Along the way you will quickly realize just how much these plants have to teach us. This episode was produced in part by 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. 211 - The Botanical Treasures of Steppes

For Mike Bone, propagating and growing plants is not just a hobby or a job, it's a way of life. Mike is the curator of the steppe collections at the Denver Botanic Gardens and his love affair with these plants rings true in everything he does. Steppes are important ecosystems, both ecological and culturally and yet they are all too often overlooked. As you will hear, Mike's work is about more than just putting pretty plants on display. It is also about conservation and education. Mike's passion for the plants of steppe habitats is intoxicating and hopefully inspires others to grow plants as well. Join us for a celebration of all things steppe veg! This episode was produced in part by 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. 210 - Pitcher Plants: A World Unto Themselves

In this episode we are taking a deep dive into the world of pitcher plant ecology, evolution, and conservation. Joining us from the Atlanta Botanical Garden is conservation scientist Dr. Jess Stephens to talk to us about her work on Sarracenia. The North American pitcher plants are worlds unto themselves and support an incredible ecosystem that we are only just beginning to understand. This episode was produced in part by 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. 209 - Invasion of the Cattails

What wetland scene would be complete without a few cattails? The genus Typha is synonymous with wetlands yet as you will hear in this episode, we know so little about them. Joining us is Dr. Pam Geddes from Northeastern Illinois University to talk to us about her work on cattail invasion ecology. What started as a question about ecosystem function and monocultures has morphed into an exploration that involves asking questions like "how do we define a species?" Settle in and learn about the wild world of cattails. This episode was produced in part by 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. 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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