October 3, 2018

I love trees, but trees don’t always love me. The trouble is: I’m susceptible to pollen allergies, and those allergies are always worst in springtime when trees are the primary culprits.

Where I live in northern Utah, my allergy season begins in mid- to late March as the wind begins transmitting juniper pollen, and it ends around the third week of June when the American linden has finished blooming. My town is full of allergenic trees, and so is my yard.

A recent study I did found that the most commonly planted urban trees in our area include Norway maple, green ash, quaking aspen, and box elder – all of which are wind-pollinated, and thus send pollen granules hither and yon in search of another tree to bear their seed.

Of course some of that pollen ends up being inhaled by human nostrils. We bought our home in part because it had a mature, shade-filled landscape. This means sharing my life with serious pollen-generators like lilacs, maples, cottonwoods, aspens, spruce, and pines.

Being in...

September 26, 2018

Lizz shares the story of learning to love plants on a school field trip... 

Transcript: 

This is Lizz Waring from Texas Tech and she is going to tell us her plant love story.

This is my plant Love Story involving a 19th century president and how he made me fall in love love with plants.

So when I was in Middle School I lived in Northwestern Ohio in a little tiny town called Oak Harbor, which was near the city of Fremont, which you’ve also probably never heard of. But Fremont's most famous resident, at least at this point in time, was Rutherford B Hayes. He was the 19th president of the United States. I think he was a general during the Civil War and shortly after that became president.

He has a presidential museum in Fremont and we used to have to go there all the time for school and I just didn’t enjoy it. Just going and walking around the house -- old stuff is cool it just wasn’t for me when I was 13.

But when I was 13 we got to do a project looking at different leaf types and so I got to...

September 18, 2018

Hi! 👋 My name is Rebecca Tonietto and I am one of the founding members of Plant Love Stories - which is why it may come as a surprise that I am completely breaking the rules in this post and not writing about an actual plant. Rather, a community of plants – I am a community ecologist, so bear with me.

Had you told the me of yesteryear, picking ticks out of my hair and scraping tens of hundreds of Desmodium seeds off my clothes, cursing the buckthorn thickets as I crashed through to reach my field sites, that I would find myself missing – no - longing, for the prairie, I would have laughed in your face. 

"But it is literally 110 degrees out!" I would have said. "There is inherently NO SHADE in a prairie!" I would have said. "And coyotes!" "And it is like walking through water!" "And you cannot see anything! You CAN GET LOST walking in a straight line!!!" I would have said all those things.

And more.

Yet, it has now been five years since I have done field work in real prairie...

September 12, 2018

That I chose a species I once hated for my first “Plant love Story” was a surprise even to me. However, given the thin line which separates love from hate, maybe it was to be expected. Yet it was clear as I was thinking of a subject for this story, the one image I keep returning to was a small tree growing in the thin strip of garden which separated our driveway from our neighbor’s. This tree stood around 40 feet tall, straddling the two sides of the property. It was unfazed by the harsh concrete environment that surrounded it. You would think I would admire the stamina and resilience of such a tree. Yet, the more this young botanist uncovered new fascinating aspects of the plant world, the more I found this tree (Callistemon citrinus, or crimson bottlebrush), planted on almost every street corner in Australia, to be overly vulgaris – common, and therefore unworthy of my affections.

I was not the only one who disliked this tree. My neighbor, who was after the non-existent award for...

September 6, 2018

Summer is winding down in our half of the world, so we thought we would take some time to reminisce on our summer travels. Plant Love Stories (PLS) hit the conference circuit this summer, attending the North American Conference on Conservation Biology in Toronto (NACCB), and the Ecological Society of America’s meeting in New Orleans (ESA).

At NACCB, we had a big crew of PLS co-founders. We gave out swag and hosted Plant Love Stories LIVE - our first ever live storytelling event, with six storytellers bravely sharing their plant love live in a packed bar :) You can read more about PLS live in PLS co-founder and PLS live story teller Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie’s post, On Story Telling, and hear some of the stories -- about treeforts and kelp love (yeah, we know it isn't exactly a plant) told live here.

At ESA, there were two of us repping PLS - Sara Kuebbing and Becky Barak (with help from Sara’s husband and PLS contributor, Josh Galperin - who doesn't hate plants). We were hosted by the...

August 29, 2018

My dad always told me that if he didn't talk to his jade plants, they wouldn't grow. Now I make sure to give my plants the love they deserve - if you don’t have a cactus confidante you’re missing out!

August 22, 2018

This week we bring you another story from our Plant Love Stories Live event held recently at North American Congress on Conservation Biology in Toronto.

This week's story is by Lesley Evans Ogden. You can hear her story using the video link below  A transcript of her story is available below: 

Growing up in rural Ontario just north of Kingston, my family lived next door to a farm. The farmers were a friendly and generous family and my brother and I were given free range to play and explore the pastures and patches of woodlands where their cows grazed. From our house, we’d hop over a fence, walk past a muddy pond, and climb to the top of the hill beside the barnyard. Along that cow path past the fish fossils in the limestone rock, was a copse of cedar trees with branches so evenly distributed and parallel to the ground that they cried out for climbing and exploration. As luck would have it, four mature cedar trees were growing in an almost perfect square, so that to us, placing...

August 15, 2018

One of the saddest part of moving across the country was having to find a new home for all the plants we have collected over the years. Some of them track the history of our relationship and the history of the places in which we have lived. It is impossible to choose a favorite, but one becomes accustomed, over a decade, to be surrounded by the same plants – they help to make a house a home.

For example:

We had plants we received as housewarming gifts in our first apartment together over 10 years ago; plants that grew up on our coffee table starting at 2” that grew to 5’ monsters which we cut and repotted so there were generations of the same plant growing up together.

Plants that moved with us many times around California, one in particular had to be re-groomed as it had spread to fill the 10’ vaulted ceilings, and we curled its branches down and around in our next apartment that lacked the same clearance.

Perhaps the ones that meant the most were plants we had given to loved ones and ha...

Our second audio story is here! You can hear Caitlin's story using the video link below.  A transcript is also available below:

I fell in love with alpine plants at the bottom of the mountain. In college I worked as an environmental educator at a backcountry hut in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Many of these huts are “high mountain,” perched just at treeline for beautiful hikes through alpine communities with Sound-of-Music-style panoramic views of open summits.

My hut, Zealand Falls, was not a high mountain hut. Our elevation was 2700’ and we were surrounded by lowland trees like paper birch and striped maple. But, Zealand Falls had waterfalls. During the lull of midday — the post-breakfast quiet when all of last night’s guests had hiked on to higher peaks, and that night’s guests were still trudging up the trail — I spent hours wading up the Zealand River, lounging in the rills and climbing the falls.

Little clumps of butter-cup-yellow flowers clung to the moss-covered rocks in...

August 1, 2018

Note: Plant Love Stories recently had it's first LIVE event, as part of the North American Congress on Conservation Biology in Toronto. We heard wonderful plant love stories from amazing storytellers, and will be posting some of their stories in the coming weeks. The audio from the live event wasn't too great (we were in a loud bar), so we

rerecorded the audio when we could. 

Our first story is by Meade Krosby. You can hear her story using the video link below or here (soundcloud). A transcript of her story is available below: 

This is a story about kelp, which will begin with two caveats.  The first is that kelp is not actually a plant, but it is so similar to a plant, I’d argue, that I’m going to give it a pass for the purposes of plant love. Kelp is, in fact, a large brown seaweed, but it could easily be mistaken for a plant. It anchors itself to the ocean floor with a strong, root-like structure called a holdfast, from which a long stem, called a stipe, extends upward, spro...

July 25, 2018

I’m writing a story of the movie Little Shop of Horrors because there is a big plant. And it eats bugs. And it is cool because it grows so big and can talk. And it has babies. And I love it because it has a funny voice and it likes blood and needs it to survive. 

Yael S., 7 years-old.

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Note from the Editors: This week, we are excited to post a submission from a new friend, Yael, whom we were lucky enough to meet by chance over dinner a few weeks ago. We are thrilled that Yael was willing to share her story and picture with us, and that Yael's grandmother, Roberta, was willing to help with the technical aspects of the submission process. We believe that everyone--of all ages--has a Plant Love Story to share, and we hope to see more PLS Kids! Submissions in the future!

July 17, 2018

Dandelions are technically an invasive weed. Many think they are lawn nuisances and dedicate the spring and summer to killing them in any way possible. While dandelions may die and stay out of your lawn, there is usually one straggler whose bud peeks its way up in a driveway crack or other remote location.

When my sister, Allison, and I were young (under 4 years old), we spent hours outside our rural home in Capac, Michigan. One of our fondest memories is of our dandelion picking contests. On the count of three, we would run off like mad dogs with our little feet padding atop the rocky, dry, terrain we called a lawn. Sharp rocks, pricker-bushes, and the occasional crab-grass patch didn't cause a moment's hesitation in our competition . We galloped, snagging any and all dandelions that crossed our path. Too many for our mini-hands to hold.

After it was all said and done, we would sit in the field and rub the yellow buds on our cheeks and chins to see who loved butter more (for those of yo...

July 11, 2018

My name is Mikayla Mason and I have absolutely no memory of a time in my life when I did not love working with plants. My grandmother tells the story of how, when we were walking through a mall when I was three, I stopped at a planter where a small plant had been pulled out and spent ten minutes replanting it. My grandmother always ends this story with the comment that she was surprised at how gentle and careful I was with the plant.

For whatever reason, this simple event set me on a path that I have followed ever since. Recently, I became a member of the La Brea Project team working at the University of Maine. My job has been to identify seeds that were viable, in the Los Angeles area of California, during the Pleistocene Epoch (2. 6 million to 11,700 years ago). What is amazing, and a bit serendipitous, is that I was born and raised in Southern California. As a child, I often visited the La Brea Tar Pits, a treasure trove of Los Angeles area fossils that offers a comprehensive "prehis...

July 4, 2018

Morgan Tingley is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. He shouldn't be too hard on his parents, as he struggles to keep anything green alive.

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