Why I Don't Hate Plants

by Josh Galperin I don’t hate plants, though I do sometimes hate looking at them for too long. For that reason trees are among my favorite plants. They are large and easy to identify from a distance. They are easy to identify while hiking, or even driving, so they don’t require frequent, extended, stops; crouching, squinting, and thumbing through field guides. That tedious behavior is mercifully reserved for identifying spring ephemerals, for instance, or maybe a shrub here and there in a region we haven’t visited before. I would gladly walk by the unidentified plants and save my energy for birds, maybe mountains, definitely lunch. The plants are part of the wallpaper. My wife, on the other

Monkeys, Mangoes and Climate Change

by David Gill Growing up in Barbados, "summer" was my favourite time of year. Mostly because school was out (I hated school!) but also because it was a special time of year for other species as well, (mango season!). We had ~11 varieties of mangoes from 13 trees (example mangoes, Figure 1). Not all trees bore mangoes at the same time, so some days we had 2-3 trees to choose from, but other times we had around 6-8 trees. I remember one summer we collected ~ 35 lb of mangoes in one run (header photo). Unfortunately, we were not the only foragers, but competed fiercely with another non-native species: Chlorocebus pygerythrus, the vervet monkey (Figure 2). Brought over from Africa by the Europea

Seed Love and Science Art

by Becky Barak Seed germination is like magic. Seeds seem like nothing. Small, brown, and dry, it’s easy to forget that they’re alive. When I study germination in the lab, I carefully place each seed on a bed of agar to keep it moist, and check on them, usually three times a week, to see which ones have germinated. One day, it’s just a seed. Often, for many days, it’s just a seed. Then, sometimes, I come back and look at it, and there is a tiny structure - the radicle, which will become the root - breaking through the seed coat. When I study seeds under the microscope, I see all kinds of amazing things. The textures of the seed coat and the emerging radicle. The way the radicle bursts throug

The Fake Plastic Jade Vine

by Buddhini Samarasinghe I am a regular visitor to Kew Gardens in London and I was shocked one day when I was in the Princess of Wales Conservatory to see a fluorescent green flower-like thing dangling from the roof. The colour was a bluish-green with purple bits, and I initially thought some pesky kids had hung it up there as a prank. It was only when I got closer to it that I realised it wasn't plastic or fake, it was actually a real flower attached to a real plant called the Jade Vine. Cameras cannot do this flower justice, I don't think the sensors can capture the correct shade of the flower - every photo I tried to take was a poor imitation of the real thing. It defies the senses becaus

Story of a Rare Plant Picture

by Thomas Oberbauer For a number of years during the mid 1970’s, I searched for rare plants on San Clemente Island in southern California. At this time, feral goats ranged over the island. The canyon bottoms were covered with goat droppings, the lower slopes on the island were nearly barren from goat grazing and browsing, and the scent of goats was ever present owing to the droppings and the occasional rotting carcass of a goat that died of natural causes. During those visits, I could only find many of the endemic species on the island—Blair’s wirelettuce (Munzothamnus blairii), Nevin’s wooly sunflower (Constancea nevinii), and San Clemente Island bushmallow (Malacothamnus clementinus)—growi