by Gabriela Gallo

The Mango of Gabriella's Eye

Summer air, rocking chair, and mango sweetness in the air. As a child born and raised in Cuba, mango slices on a summer day while sitting on my rocking chair watching tv are some of the most vivid memories I have of my early life. Mango slices, compote, or juice, no matter its form, I love it.

Upon arrival in the United States, it was not the same to find the mango that I loved, with all of the different varieties in the supermarkets. Then, at eight years old we moved to a house in Westchester, Florida, my current home, and where the mango of my eye resides. In the back of the home are two of my most beloved trees, mango and avocado. Not because they are my own, but because both the mangoes and avocados that are grown in my home are like no other. Since moving to this house, my summers take me back to my younger days, sucking on a mango pit as the juice runs down my hand.

My mango tree is outstretched over my home and my neighbors, offering them sweetness in their own backyards. Surrounded by aloe plants, she gives life not only to her fruits, but to the succulents at her feet as well. My perfect mango is delicately sweet, has no inner fibers, and is the size of my outstretched hand. The mangoes grown in my backyard are like no other, they bring sweetness and my childhood to life, one mango at a time.

Gabriela is 21 years old and lives in Miami, Florida. She is a full time student majoring in Biology.

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Updated: Feb 11

In case you haven't noticed, we (still) LOVE plants!

Plant Love Stories (PLS) began on February 14th, 2018 as a way to collect and share stories about the plants that shape our lives. To celebrate Valentine's Day and our third birthday, we commissioned original plant-y valentines, also known as #PlantHeartArt. Since 2020 was a rough year, and we can all use more plant love in our lives, we are thrilled this year to share work from EIGHTEEN incredible artists. We hope these valentines make you smile, and we hope that you will share them with the people and plants in your life. For last year's post, cick here, and for printable PDFs of all the valentines, click here!

Happy Valentine's Day from Team PLS!

Artist: Joey Abhold

Bio: Joey Abhold is an Illustrator based out of Appleton, Wisconsin, currently working on commission, from branding to fully-realized illustrated pieces, in both traditional and digital media. You can find him most active on Instagram at @j.abhold.illo and half-active on Twitter @josefabhorred.

Artist: Aim Ren Beland

Bio: Aim Ren Beland creates zines, comics, and other illustrated work in Chicago, IL. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @aimrenatus or visit his website at

Artist: KB Brown

Bio: KB Brown is a printer and freelance designer/illustrator based in Grand Rapids, MI. Always an admirer of plants (and Valentine's Day), they only just started growing their own collection of plants after years of succulent mishaps. Check out KB's other projects on Instagram @kb.scribble.

Artist: Laura Corchero

Bio: Laura Corchero is a 22-year-old biologist who is deeply in love with the beauty of life. She also likes to doodle from time to time. Her main goal at the moment is to show people the uniqueness of plants, as ''we only protect what we love and we only love what we know''. Find Laura on Instagram and Twitter at @lacorcher.

Artist: Yiğit Berkay Gündoğmuş

Bio: Yiğit Berkay Gündoğmuş is a MSc. student in the Stomatal Biology Lab at COS, Heidelberg University, Germany and in his final semester. Yiğit is actively looking for a PhD position in evo-devo, and can be found on twitter @gundogmus_yigit.

Artist: Courtney Currier

Bio: Courtney Currier is an ecologist and artist in Tempe, Arizona. Perpetually in awe of their evolutionary accomplishments, she draws inspiration from the plants, critters, and soils of dryland ecosystems. She finds grasses especially curious and is overjoyed to share this charismatic grama grass (Bouteloua sp.) with you! Check out Courtney’s website for more art and her twitter (@court_currier) for more science.

Artist: Iris Garthwaite

Bio: Iris Garthwaite is a graduate student at Northern Arizona University where she studies Fremont Cottonwoods, Ecology, and Riparian Conservation. Natural dyeing is an extension of Iris's passion for ecoliteracy, ecology, and generating intimacy with the land around us. The plant dyes in this #PlantHeartArt showcase the beauty and biodiversity of riparian ecosystems in the Chiricahua mountains of SE Arizona. Find Iris at Instagram @dhouk_indie_dyes, Twitter @homoimaginans, and at her website, Dahouk Indie Dyes.

Artist: Kerrigan Gilbert

Bio: Kerrigan Gilbert is a bioinformatician at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, who loves exploring big data sets and making new discoveries. When not on the command line she enjoys chilling with a book, and digital hand lettering and illustration. Follow her art on Instagram @damiarain and science on Twitter @Kerri_Gilbert.

Artist: Grace Hunter

Bio: Grace Hunter is a science communicator and writer based in Hamilton, Ontario. She is especially passionate about connecting people with nature in urban environments. Follow Grace on twitter @GraceC_Hunter, and at

Artist: Camíla Inoa

Bio: Camíla Inoa is sleepy illustrator whose favorite things to do include baking, going to the beach, and enjoying quality time with family and friends! Follow Camíla on Twitter @camiinoa, and on

Artist: Clarke Knight

Bio: Clarke Knight is a forest ecologist and aspiring watercolorist with a life-long interest in natural history. Although she mostly looks at microscopic pollen grains for her work, she also adores the macro plant world. Since moving to California, she has loved taking hikes to see spring wildflowers and northern California's endemic conifers. Find Clarke on Twitter @ClarkeAKnight and her website,

Artist: Nina McDonnell

Bio: Nina McDonnell is a masters student at UMass Boston studying disease ecology. She is interested in amphibian immunity and susceptibility to chytridiomycosis— a widespread fungal disease contributing to amphibian declines. Aside from research, she enjoys hiking, drawing, and caring for her many houseplants, which have provided joy and comfort during quarantine. Find more of Nina's work on Instagram @amphibina and portfolio site

Artist: Sarita Muñoz-Gómez

Bio: Sarita Muñoz-Gómez is a biologist who enjoys doing art and SciComm. Sarita love plants and plans to keep studying them in graduate school. Sarita has an illustration project called The Fern Mail (@thefernmail1) on Twitter where she draws small stamps for scientists from diverse fields. She also collaborates with the LGBTQ+ Plant Scientists Twitter page by doing art work to help increase diversity in science.

Artist: Fern Pellerin

Bio: Fern Pellerin is a Roma nonbinary lesbian interdisciplinary artist currently based in K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki (Halifax, Nova Scotia). Fern’s art practice is currently influenced by past experiences growing up LGBTQ+ and overcoming past hardships. They are inspired by nostalgia, dreams, memory and their own queer Romani identity. Follow fern at @fernpellerin on Instagram and tumblr.

Artist: Lindsay Peltz

Bio: Lindsay Peltz is an artist living in the beautiful Okanagan in BC, Canada and enjoys the variety of plant life in the area, except when she accidentally steps on a jumping cactus (ouch). When not drawing, Lindsay enjoys reading, sleeping, baking, and drinking coffee. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @dinosaurandpony and at her website

Artist: Corinn Rutkoski

Bio: Corinn Rutkoski is a PhD student at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station, where she studies Prairie Strips (zones of native prairie in farm fields) and how they can be used to improve soil health. She is also the artist behind the weekly chalkboard drawings for @KBSchalkboard on Twitter!

Artist: Autumn Von Plinsky

Bio: Autumn Von Plinsky is an illustrator and graphic designer from Augusta, GA and working out of her new home in Brooklyn, NY. With experience in design & illustration for places like the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, Oak Spring Garden Foundation, and New York Botanical Garden, she loves illustrating all things birds, bugs, and plants, and using those illustrations to communicate with the public. While she currently works full time doing design and illustration for Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies, she still finds time for drawing all the cool plants & critters she can. Autumn's website is

Artist: Ariani Wartenberg

Bio: Ariani Wartenberg is a Berkeley-based scientist who studies how agriculture impacts ecosystems and livelihoods. She loves all things plant-related and dabbles in painting and illustration in her spare time. She has roots in Germany, Indonesia and France, and her work and art reflect a life-long fascination with unique beauty in people, plants, animals and natural landscapes around the world. Ariani shares her art on Instagram, @inairacw.

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By Catharina Pinheiro

Life is a beautiful thing. It’s the longest thing you’ll ever do. From your first breath to your last, every moment is as precious as a rose. For some, life can seem like an eternity. For others, life can feel like a blink of an eye. But despite its beauty, no life is perfect. Even roses have thorns.

For as long as I can remember, my grandfather made it his number one priority to always buy me roses as a child. He would tell me, “never accept anything less from a man.” He taught me how to value myself and to never settle for anything less than what I was taught by him. I always had fresh roses in my room. The scent would greet me so perfectly and delicately every time I entered my room. Whenever one bunch started to wilt, I knew another bouquet was already on its way.

I was 16 years old when my grandfather passed. But despite his sickness, despite his many hospital visits, despite his chemo, despite it all, he never failed to always have a fresh bunch of flowers for his one and only granddaughter.

Our last memory was shared in a hospital room. In his hand he held a single red rose. I cried as he shakingly handed it to me. It was the most beautiful rose I ever saw. With eyes filled with wells of tears, I reached for the flower and squeezed the stem as if I was afraid it would fly away. I squealed in pain. Thorns. My grandfather took my hand with concern and chuckled. He looked into my eyes and told me “Life is like a rose, don’t let its thorns take away from how beautiful it can be.”

I’m 22 years old at the moment and engaged to the love of my life. My room is once again always filled with my favorite familiar scent. I know my grandfather would love him. He is my forever rose.

Catharina is a 22 year old graduating senior at Florida International University as a Pre-Physician Assistant student. Catharina hopes to get into PA school soon and lives in Miami, Florida.

Photo by Miranda Garside on Unsplash

Photo by Bence Balla-Schottner on Unsplash (red rose)

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