Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2019 v65 No 1 SpringActions

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Establishing a BSA Student Chapter... p. 53

CATB Isolation: The True Story, by Jeff 

and Jane Doyle... p. 15

Student Team-Based Tree Canopy  

Biodiversity Research... p. 28

Botany as a State of Flow 

Enhancing Plant Awareness through Video Games


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                                                       Spring 2019 Volume 65 Number 1


Editorial Committee  

Volume 65

From the Editor

Melanie Link-Perez  



Department of Botany  

& Plant Pathology 

Oregon State University 

Corvallis, OR 97331

Shannon Fehlberg 



Research and Conservation 

Desert Botanical Garden 

Phoenix, AZ 85008

David Tank 


Department of Biological 


University of Idaho 

Moscow, ID 83844

In this eclectic issue of Plant Science Bul-

letin, we have the story of 2× CTAB iso-

lation, a discussion about the potential of 

using video games to promote botanical 

education, and a description of canopy re-

search in Great Smoky Mountain National 

Park. In the Policy Notes, you will find the 

latest information about the Botany Bill, 

and the Student Section highlights oppor-

tunities for students. 
I am also happy to point you toward our 

large assortment of book reviews in this 

issue. As always, we are grateful for the 

reviewers who take the time to provide a 

synopsis and critique of the newest bota-

ny-oriented books, as well as the publish-

ers who make these titles available. If you 

are interested in writing a review, the list 

of available books can be found at https://

plant-science-bulletin.html. We also wel-

come reviews of books that are of interest 

but not on our list. For more information, 

please contact me at mackenzietaylor@ 
I want to send a special shout-out to our 

readers and BSA members who are U.S. 

federal employees and who endured the 

longest-ever—at least at the time I am 

writing this—government shutdown in 

January. Your service to botany, science, 

and to the United 

States is appreciated.

James McDaniel 


Botany Department 

University of Wisconsin Madison 

Madison, WI  53706

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Public Policy News ....................................................................................................................................................... 2

Engage in Botanical Science Advocacy! ......................................................................................................... 2

Featured Legislation: Rebooting the Botany Bill ........................................................................................ 2

Featured Organization: The Plant Conservation Alliance ...................................................................... 3

In Memoriam

      Hugh Daniel Wilson (1943–2018) ............................................................................................................... 4

     Lanny Fisk (1944–2018) .................................................................................................................................. 5

     Neil Arthur Harriman (1938–2018) ............................................................................................................. 7

5 Things About Your Executive Director .......................................................................................................... 9

The Benefits of Publishing in BSA’s Research Journals ..................................................................... 11


New Online Certificate in Tropical Forest Landscapes ..................................................................... 12

MSc Degree/Postgraduate Diploma in the Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants 

   Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, University of Edinburgh ......................................................................12


CATB Isolation: The True Story ......................................................................................................................... 15

Botany as a State of Flow Enhancing Plant Awareness through Video Games .................. 19

Student Team-Based Tree Canopy Biodiversity Research in Great Smoky  

Mountains National Park ........................................................................................................................................ 28


PlantingScience’s Spring Session is Underway! ....................................................................................... 38


Roundup of Student Opportunities .................................................................................................................. 40

Establishing a BSA Student Chapter at Our University ....................................................................... 53


Biogeography ............................................................................................................................................................... 55

Ecological ....................................................................................................................................................................... 57

Economic Botany ....................................................................................................................................................... 58

Systematics................................................................................................................................................................... 66

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By Krissa Skogen (Chicago Botanic Garden),  

Kal Tuominen (Metropolitan State University),  

and Andrew Pais (North Carolina State University 

[not pictured]), the BSA PPC Co-Chairs

Public Policy News

In response to the increased interest in science 

advocacy, the Public Policy Committee of the 

BSA is dedicated to providing resources and 

examples of advocacy strategies to help the 

scientific community more effectively engage 

with policy makers. In 2019, the Plant Science 

Bulletin’s Public Policy News will highlight 

upcoming legislation, organizations, and case 

studies to facilitate greater engagement.




If you have been involved or interested in 

advocating for the Botany Bill during the past 

two years, we need you to spread the word 



and connect with your elected officials in the 

116th Congress!

The Botanical Sciences and Native Plant 

Materials Research, Restoration, and 

Promotion Act (aka the “Botany Bill”) was 

introduced to the 115th Congress in the 

U.S. House of Representatives (2017; H.R. 

1054) and Senate (2018; S.3240). With a new 

Congress comes the need to reintroduce 

the Bill and a new opportunity for it to 

move forward in the legislative process! The 

“Botany Bill” will be reintroduced in the 

116th Congress in both the House and Senate 

once co-sponsors are identified, ideally in 

early 2019. In order for the Bill to make it 

to committee, it will need broad bipartisan 

support in both the House and the Senate. 

Consider contacting your elected officials 

and asking them to co-sponsor the Bill! 

We will need all the support we can get—

your efforts are needed and valued!

Visit for 

resources to guide your advocacy efforts, 

for information on the new version of the 

Botany Bill, and to sign up for updates on 

the Bill!


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The Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) is a 

public-private partnership of organizations 

that share the common goal of protecting 

native plants by ensuring that native plant 

populations and their communities are 

maintained, enhanced, and restored. The 

partnership includes 12 U.S. Federal Agency 

Members (the Federal Committee) and 

nearly 400 Non-Federal Cooperators (the 

Non-Federal Cooperators Committee), 

which is comprised of state agencies and 

private organizations interested in native 

plant conservation in the United States. 


PCA Members and Cooperators work 

collaboratively to solve the problems of 

native plant conservation and native habitat 

restoration, ensuring the sustainability of 

ecosystems in the United States. The depth and 

strength of PCA lies in the scientific expertise, 

networking, and ability to pool resources to 

protect, conserve, and restore our national 

plant heritage for generations to come.

In 1995, PCA developed the National 

Framework for Progress in Plant Conservation 




Framework.pdf). This Framework is intended 

to provide a coordinated approach to plant 

conservation in the United States. The National 

Framework consists of six broad strategies and 

outlines supporting goals and actions to guide 

efforts for implementing a national plant 

conservation strategy at national, regional, 

and local levels. 

Cooperators are invited to attend meetings 

of the PCA’s Federal Committee as observers, 

participate in informal open forums with 

the PCA Federal Committee, and participate 

in PCA Working Groups. Cooperators also 

receive regular communications that facilitate 

participation in Non-Federal Cooperator 

Committee efforts to raise awareness about the 

importance of native plant conservation. In 

addition, the PCA holds bi-monthly meetings 

as an open forum for anyone interested 

in working in plant conservation. The 

meeting takes place in the Washington, DC 

metropolitan area and is available remotely 

as a live webinar. Attendees use a roundtable 

format to share relevant events and discussion 

on work related to plant conservation, and each 

of the PCA working groups and committees 

provides ongoing updates. Regular attendees 

include representatives from PCA Federal 

agencies and from cooperating organizations. 

However, anyone is welcome to attend the 


Get Involved with the PCA!

Join the PCA listserv to learn about upcoming 

meetings, receive announcements, and follow 

discussions on native plant conservation:


Visit  http://www.plantconservationalliance.

org/cooperators to find out if your organization 

or agency is part of the PCA.

The schedule for upcoming meetings 

can be found at http://www.

Follow the PCA on Facebook at https://www.

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In Memoriam



Hugh Daniel Wilson was born in Alliance, 

Ohio, to Fern and Elvin Wilson on August 15, 

1943 and died November 5, 2018.

He grew up in Alliance and graduated from 

Alliance High School in 1961. He was a 

running back on the AHS 1958 Football State 

Championship team and held a track record 

at the Ohio State Relays that lasted for nearly 

20 years. Hugh was elected to Alliance High 

School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000.

Sargent Hugh Wilson was honorably 


discharged from the United States Air Force 1964-68 

with an Air Force medal of Commendation 

for Meritorious service in Vietnam.   

After returning from the service, Hugh 

completed a Bachelor of Arts (Biology) in 

1970 and Master of Arts (Botany) in 1972 at 

Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. Thesis: “The 

Vascular Plants of Holmes County, Ohio”.

Hugh received his Ph.D. in Botany and 

Anthropology 1973-1976 from Indiana 

University, Bloomington, Indiana Dissertation: 

“A biosystematic study of the cultivated 

chenopods (Quinoa) and related species”.

After earning his Ph.D., Hugh was a visiting 

professor on the faculty in the Department of 

Botany at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, 

Wyoming. Hugh had full responsibility for a 

five-week Science Camp offering field Botany.

In 1977, Dr. Wilson joined the faculty at 

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 

(College of Science), Department of Biology. 

He taught Taxonomy of Flowering Plants, Field 

Systematic Botany, and Economic Botany until 

he retired in 2011 as Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Wilson was known for the study of the 

floras of Ohio and Texas, with focus on 

conservation of rare species and habitats, 

and for his ethnobotanical research and early 

molecular work on Lagenaria, Cucurbita, and 

Chenopodium.  His enthusiasm for taxonomy, 

ethnobotany, floristics, conservation, and 

specimen digitization inspired many of his 

students to become botanists or pursue related 

fields, and I am lucky to count myself among 


Dr. Wilson was the curator of the TAMU 

Herbarium (now combined with Texas A&M’s 

Tracy Herbarium, TAES) and was an early, 

visionary promoter of specimen digitization, 

herbarium data standards, online collections 

browsers, and regional consortium building—

many years before these ideas became widely 

embraced and adopted.  He was instrumental 

in the creation of one of the earliest online 

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herbarium specimen browsers (for TAMU 

and TAES), and provided leadership for both 

iterations of the region’s herbarium consortia 

(first, the Digital Flora of Texas Consortium, 

and later, the Texas-Oklahoma Regional 

Consortium of Herbaria (TORCH)).  Wilson’s 

insistence that botanical data should be 

digitized so they could be easily shared and 

updated, and then eventually combined and 

mined for research—long before Big Data 

was a thing—made him a pariah, in his own 

opinion.  In my opinion, he is one of the giants 

upon whose shoulders many of us now stand.

Hugh was given the Edmund H. Fulling 

Award, Society for Economic Botany, 

1981, Fellow American Association 

for the Advancement of Science 1990.   

He received support for research from 

the National Science Foundation, U.S. 

Department of Agriculture, and National 

Geographic Society.

Dr. Wilson was a member of the American 

Association for the Advancement of Science, 

the Botanical Society of America, the 

American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and 

the Society for Economic Botany.

Hugh is survived by his wife, C. Toni (Favazzo) 

Wilson, College Station, TX; son, Quentin F. 

Wilson, Portland, Oregon; brother, Gary L. 

Wilson, Los Angeles, CA., nephews, Derek M. 

Wilson, Dallas, TX, C.D. Wilson, Sachem, CT; 

and their children.

In lieu of other forms of commemoration, 

please take the time to accompany your 

students in their fieldwork, or invite them to 

accompany you in yours.

(Dr. Wilson’s obituary was published in the Alli-

ance Review on 10 November 2018. We present 

it here with additions by Amanda K. Neill.)



Dr. Lanny Herbert Fisk (1944-2018), beloved 

brother, father, and friend, left the Earth and 

life he loved on July 19, 2018. He resided in 

Grass Valley, California. Lanny was born to 

Paul J. and Mildred (Courser) Fisk on February 

24, 1944. He graduated from Vestaburg 

High School in 1962. In January of 1967 he 

married Carolyn McDowell of Detroit, MI. 

He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served 

as a Medical Specialist at the U.S. Pentagon 

from 1967-1969. Following his honorable 

discharge, he moved to Berrien Springs, 

MI where he completed an undergraduate 

degree at Andrews University in 1971. After 

earning his PhD in Biology, with emphasis 

on Paleobotany, from Loma Linda University 

(LLU) in Loma Linda, CA, he taught at 

Walla Walla College (WWC) in Walla Walla, 

WA. He then pursued postdoctoral studies 

in Petroleum Geology at Michigan State 


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Life-long research took Lanny around the 

world, but his favorite was conducted at 

Yellowstone National Park (YNP) where he 

had graduate students working under him 

doing research on the petrified forests of 

YNP. His research, often in collaboration 

with valued colleagues, has been published 

in several journals, including but not limited 

to The Journal of Paleontology. Geological 

Society of America (GSA) was the first 

professional organization he joined and went 

on to become a member of the Paleontological 

Society as well as too many others to name. 

He held teaching positions at WWC, LLU, 

and most recently, American River College 

in Sacramento, CA. While at LLU, he and 

Dr. William J. Fritz incorporated F & F 

GeoResource Associates, Inc. In 1982 Lanny 

created, as the Senior Paleontologist and 

Chief Executive Officer, the consulting firm 

of PaleoResource Consultants, DBA of F & 

F. In 1993 he was appointed by the Governor 

of Oregon to serve on the Board of the 

Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral 

Industries, which he did through 1998. 

Lanny was very active in AASP-The 

Palynological Society over the past many 

years. He was President of the Society in 2014; 

prior to that he was President-Elect (2013) 

and then Past-President (2015). While he 

was President-Elect he hosted and organized 

the 2014 AASP-TPS Annual Meeting in San 

Francisco. Lanny fulfilled many wishes of 

hosting that meeting in San Francisco, with 

a ’60s theme t-shirt, the venue in downtown, 

and a geologically oriented field trip to the 

wine country. Over the past decade Lanny was 

ever present at AASP-TPS annual meetings, 

giving presentations, participating in board 

meetings, and participating in other Society 


Right up until his passing, Lanny was 

organizing projects and studies involving 

fieldwork and travel. He was full of incredible 

energy and enthusiasm. He had just been 

talking with Joyce Lucas-Clark about a new 

project on the California Eocene-Oligocene 

stratigraphic problems, and had longer-

term plans for working on the Chalk Bluffs 

microflora. Appropriately, Lanny passed away 

while working at his computer in the office 

late at night. He had dreams of projects right 

up until the time of his death. No one knew 

the extent of his health problems other than 

his knee replacements. Despite those surgeries 

and normally bringing up the rear with Joyce 

on hikes, he thoroughly enjoyed fieldwork. 

Throughout his professional career, Dr. Fisk 

was a lecturer, teacher, and mentor to many 

in the geology and paleontology community. 

In 1996 Lanny married Tami Wanner. Their 

children are Daniel (21), Michael (19), and 

Dessa (16), who all live in the Sacramento 

area. Lanny’s family also includes his sisters, 

Paula Fardulis of Carlsbad, CA, and Susan 

Brantley of Vestaburg, MI. Lanny had valued 

relationships with many cousins, nieces and 

nephews, great nieces and great nephews, who 

tolerated the teasing and practical jokes that 

came along with his wit. Those of us who were 

close to him have lost a very good friend. 

-Joyce Lucas-Clark and Thomas Demchuk 

Excerpts taken from

Reprinted from the AASP – The Palynological 

Society Newsletter 51 (4): 15-16.

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Neil Arthur  Harriman died at home on 

December 7, 2018 after a rather lengthy 

decline in his health.

Neil was born on August 1, 1938 in St. 

Louis, Missouri, the only son of Ruth and 

John Harriman. He grew up in St. Louis along 

with his older sister, Ruth. Neil received his 

Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College, 

Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1960, followed 

by a Doctor of Philosophy from Vanderbilt 

University in Nashville, Tennessee, in Biology 

in January 1965.

While at Vanderbilt, Neil met Bettie Ralph and 

they were married on July 13, 1963. Together, 

they moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in 

September of 1964 when Neil joined the 

Biology Department faculty at University of 

Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO), primarily to 

teach botany classes and do plant taxonomy 

research. Neil remained at UWO until his 

retirement in May 1998.

Neil was a dedicated teacher and found 

great satisfaction not only in teaching about 

botanical information, but helping the students 

learn to be life-long learners. It gave him much 

pleasure that three of his students went on to 

get their own PhDs in Botany: Robert Jansen, 

Bruce Parfitt (deceased), and Melanie DeVore. 

His research work of collecting, identifying, 

and conserving plants was also a pleasure to 

him. When Neil arrived on campus in 1964, 

the herbarium facility in Halsey Science 

was barely more than a room with cabinets 

waiting to be filled with dried, identified, 

and properly labeled plants, arranged in a 

systematic fashion. Today it houses almost 

125,000 specimens from around the world, 

including over 70 type specimens; three 

of these document species named in Neil’s 

honor:  Flyriella harrimanii, Lundellianthus 

harrimanii, and Phyllanthus harrimanii. After 

Neil’s retirement, the university named the 

herbarium in his honor. The Neil A. Harriman 

Herbarium contains not only plant specimens, 

but Neil’s extensive personal botanical library 

as well.

Neil belonged to numerous botanical societies 

during his career, including American Society 

of Plant Taxonomists, for which he served a 

three-year term as Secretary and Program 

Chairman, and the International Association 

for Plant Taxonomy.   He served as Editor 

of  The Michigan Botanist  for many years, 

and as a reviewer and author in the Flora 

of North America project of the Missouri 

Botanical Garden. Over the years he published 

numerous scientific articles in the journals of 

these societies.

During his 34 years as a member of the UWO 

faculty, Neil received a number of awards and 

recognitions. In 1973–1974, he was given the 

Citation as an Outstanding Teacher. In May 

1986, Neil was named a John McNaughton 

Rosebush University Professor for Excellence 

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in Teaching and Professional Achievement. 

In 1993 he received the UWO Endowment 

for Excellence - The TRISS Endowed 


When Neil retired in 1998, he was named 

Professor Emeritus of Biology and 

Microbiology at UWO by the Board of Regents 

and continued to work in the herbarium as 

long as his health allowed.

Neil’s joy for editing the written word extended 

beyond botany, as did his willingness to “help 

out” when needed.  During his retirement, 

Neil joined his wife Bettie as co-editors for 

the quarterly journal of the Wisconsin Society 

for Ornithology from 2003 to 2014. He also 

contributed his editing skills to the production 

of the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Wisconsin,

600-page book published by the Wisconsin 

Society for Ornithology in 2006.

The essence of Dr. Neil A.  Harriman is 

perfectly stated by one of his graduate 

students, Tom Eddy: “Forty years ago, as a 

young graduate candidate at the University of 

Wisconsin Oshkosh, I was encouraged by Dr. 

Neil A. Harriman to conduct a systemic study 

of the vascular flora of Green Lake County. My 

thesis research and association with Neil 

resulted in a profound change in my life 

trajectory, both personally and professionally.

“Besides our independent plant collecting, 

Neil and I participated in numerous botanical 

outings organized by the Botanical Club 

of Wisconsin.  Neil’s taxonomic knowledge 

was encyclopedic. He exercised a superlative 

command of language and proper use of 

grammar. Whether in lecture or private 

conversation, he could turn what first 

appeared to be a collection of unrelated facts 

into a relevant lesson, frequently accompanied 

by humorous euphemisms.

“Neil was an unpretentious and modest 

person, preferring not to draw attention to 

himself. In 2009, the herbarium which Neil 

founded in 1964, was dedicated in his honor: 

the Neil A. Harriman Herbarium. While such 

an honor might offer one an opportunity to 

grandstand, Neil chose not to speak at this 

ceremonious tribute.

“The natural world was held in reverence 

by Neil.  Whether botanizing a natural area, 

roadside right-of-way, or parking lot, his eye 

was trained on the ground. Besides collecting 

new plant records, Neil regularly collected and 

properly disposed of someone else’s litter.

“Neil gifted generously to his local animal 

shelter. He held a tender spot for cats and dogs 

waiting to be adopted. On numerous occasions 

I witnessed a similar mindfulness by Neil 

toward other peoples’ lives whose unfortunate 

circumstances were less than ideal. He was 

generous, big-hearted and aspired for the 

common good. For all this, I owe Neil a debt 

of gratitude for his mentorship and unflagging 


Neil is survived by his wife Bettie and many 

friends who offered comfort and assistance 

with his care. His final week was under the 

excellent care of Aurora At Home hospice 

care, which gave much physical support and 

comfort to Neil in a most experienced and 

professional manner while at the same time 

providing an easy emotional and caring 

support for Bettie.

-Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D., Professor Emeri-

tus, Department of Biology and Microbiology, 

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh 

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Heather Cacanindin was named the BSA 

Executive Director in March 2018, after a 

competitive search to replace Bill Dahl, who 

retired in October 2017. Prior to taking over 

the reins of the Society, Heather served as the 

Director of Membership and Marketing for the 

BSA, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and 

the Society for Economic Botany for over 10 


Why did you want to be the Executive 

Director of the BSA, and what makes you 

excited to come to work?

I have spent my entire career in association 

and nonprofit work.  I love working for 

organizations that are truly mission-driven 

and making an impact on the communities 

that they serve.  After ten years at the BSA, 

I felt that I had a deep understanding of the 

organization, its culture, and our staff and our 

members’ needs.  BSA does such a great job in 

serving its members in every career stage, and 

our members are doing fantastic and exciting 

research and outreach. It is invigorating to 

know that we are all here to nurture scientific 

discovery, provide professional development 

opportunities, and pave the way for the next 

generation of botanical scientists.  I find that 

there are so many dedicated members and 

leaders in this organization, and that makes 

coming to work each day really worthwhile 

and fulfilling.  I know the rest of our staff feels 

the same way.  And also, our BSA staff is just 

fantastic to work with!

What is the most surprising or challenging 

thing you have encountered in your first 

year as Executive Director?   

It was surprising to me just how long it took 

to get up to speed in an organization that had 

been my home for several years.  There were 

still so many aspects of our business that I had 

only tangentially been exposed to.   I realized 

quickly that there was still so much for me to 

learn at the BSA, and that was challenging, a 

little scary, and exciting all at the same time.

In what way is serving in this role different 

than you imagined?

It’s hard for any organization to transition 

from a long-time Executive Director to a new 

leader.  I don’t think I realized just how much 

our Board, members, and staff were looking 

to me to set the tone and direction for the 

next phase of BSA’s evolution.  I also realized 

quickly that it was hard for me to let go of 

some of my previous work that was familiar 

and comfortable in favor of some of the new 

initiatives and work on my desk as Executive 

Director.  Luckily, with the help of our staff, 

leadership, and a terrific new Membership 

Manager to fill my previous role, I have been 

able to make the pivot.

5 Things About Your Executive Director

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Who is a person who has influenced and/or inspired you in your work?

I had a fantastic mentor at the United Soybean Board, when I worked there several years ago.  

She taught me to always put forth my best effort, do my research, and really listen to my leaders 

and constituents.  I also learned from her that sometimes you have to speak your mind and 

stand up to your leadership if they are getting off track or engaging in mission-creep.  Running 

an association is a partnership between the leadership and the staff, but the direction of the 

organization really rests with the members and the mission of the organization.  She also taught 

me that it is important to continue to sharpen my skills and support my staff in their own 

professional development.  Thanks, Janice!

And finally... what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to read, travel, and watch my two sons play hockey.

Applications in Plant Sciences  

Two Special Issues This Spring

The March issue of Applications in Plant Sciences is focused on “Emerging 

frontiers in phenological research.” This special issue, organized by guest editors 

Gil Nelson, Elizabeth Ellwood, and Katelin Pearson, includes articles presenting 

innovative phenology projects—

all of which make use of, or can be applied to, 

herbarium specimens

—that offer 

new insights into research methods, software, 

and foundational standards and practices.

The full issue is available at

APPS will feature another special issue in April, with “Methods in Belowground 

Botany.” Guest editors Gregory Pec and James Cahill have curated a diverse group 

of papers that explore current methods and challenges in investigating plant root 

systems, ranging from the sub-cellular to the ecosystem level, with a wide variety 

of applications that advance our understanding of belowground botany.

Upcoming articles for this issue are available at

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The publishing landscape is changing constantly, and authors have many options for publishing 

their research. The BSA’s two peer-reviewed journals—the American Journal of Botany and 

Applications in Plant Sciences—want to be the home for your work! 

How do your Society journals stand out in today’s crowded publishing field?

•  AJB and APPS have a broad international reach, which is increasing even further through 

our partnership with Wiley.

•  As a BSA member, you can publish for free in AJB, and you receive discounts for 

publishing in APPS (a totally Open Access methods journal). See member benefits for full 


•  Our editorial boards have broad botanical expertise and handle papers with great care and 

efficiency (the average time to first decision is ca. 30 days). 

•  Your  BSA publications team—Amy McPherson, Beth Parada, and Richard Hund—

works with authors, reviewers, and editors to maintain high standards and an efficient and 

constructive process from manuscript submission through publication. 

•  We support authors post-publication through social media promotions, press releases, 

and other outreach.

There is an added bonus for publishing in AJB and APPS: As nonprofit Society journals, our 

proceeds go back to the BSA’s members and the botanical community to support grants and 

awards that further careers and opportunities.

Submit articles now for AJB at

homepage/forauthors and for APPS at


We look forward to seeing your best research appear in your Society journals!

The Benefits of Publishing in 

BSA’s Research Journals

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The Environmental Leadership & Training 

Initiative (ELTI) is proud to announce the 

launch of a new online certificate program, in 

collaboration with the Yale School of Forestry 

& Environmental Studies, titled:  Tropical 

Forest Landscapes: Conservation, Restoration 

and Sustainable Use.

This yearlong program consists of four eight-

week online courses, a capstone project, and 

an optional field course in Latin America 

or Asia.  This program is designed for 

professionals working to address the complex 

social, ecological, and funding aspects of 

managing tropical forest landscapes.

Learn from a diverse team of  Yale faculty 

members, ELTI team members, and a network 

of international partners:

•  Fundamentals:  Ecological and social 


•  People:  Community and institutional 


•  Strategies:  Implementing and monitoring 


•  Funding: Financial concepts and tools
•  Capstone:  Designing a conservation or 

restoration project

The program will run from June 2019 through 

May 2020.  Applications open January 7, 2019.

Interested in learning more? Visit our website 

at for 

more information and sign up for our mailing 

list to receive important program updates.






Royal Botanic Garden  


University of Edinburgh

Programme Philosophy

The MSc in Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants 

is a full one-year master course established by the 

University of Edinburgh and the Royal Botanic 

Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) in 1992 to address 

the growing worldwide demand for trained 

plant taxonomists and whole-plant scientists. 

Since then the course has developed into the 

ideal platform for the study and understanding 

of plants and their conservation. The RBGE 

course is unique in its broad approach 

with a strong emphasis on plants and their 

identification. Students will also have the once-

in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a two-

week field trip to Colombia to undertake 

tropical plant identification.

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


The MSc is ideal for those wishing to develop 

a career in many areas of plant science:

•  Survey and conservation work in 

threatened ecosystems

•  Assessment of plant resources and genetic 


•  Taxonomic research
•  Management of institutes and curation of 


•  A stepping stone to PhD research and 

academic careers

The course and students benefit widely from 

the close partnership between RBGE and the 

University of Edinburgh (UoE). RBGE has 

one of the world’s best Living Collections 

(>15,000 plant species across our four 

specialist Gardens—5% of world species), 

an Herbarium of three million specimens, 

and one of the UK’s most comprehensive 

botanical libraries. The School of Biological 

Sciences at UoE is a center of excellence for 

research in Plant Sciences and Evolutionary 

Biology. Recognized experts from RBGE, 

UoE, and from different institutions in the UK 

deliver lectures across the whole spectrum of 

plant diversity. Most course work is based at 

RBGE, close to major collections of plants, 

but students have full access to the extensive 

learning facilities of the university.

Edinburgh is a unique place to study plant 

taxonomy and diversity.   RBGE is one of 

the top four botanic gardens in the world 

and a global leader in plant science and 

conservation.  The organization dates back to 

1670 and will celebrate its 350th anniversary 

in 2020.  Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, is 

also a unique and vibrant city in which to live 

and study, welcoming students from around 

the world.

Aims and Scope

The MSc provides biologists, conservationists, 

horticulturists, and ecologists with a wide 

knowledge of plant biodiversity, as well as a 

thorough understanding of traditional and 

modern approaches to pure and applied 

taxonomy. Apart from learning about the latest 

research techniques for classification, students 

should acquire a broad knowledge of plant 

structure, ecology, statistical methodology, 

and plant identification.

Program Structure

This is an intensive 12-month program and 

involves lectures, practicals, workshops and 

essay writing, with examinations at the end 

of the first and second semesters. The course 

starts in September of each year and the 

application deadline is normally 31 March. 


Topics covered include:

•  Evolution and biodiversity of the major 

plant groups, fungi and lichens

•  Plant geography
•  Conservation and sustainability
•  Production and use of floras and 


•  Biodiversity databases
•  Phylogenetic analysis
•  Population and conservation genetics
•  Tropical field course, plant collecting and 


•  Curation of living collections, herbaria 

and libraries

•  Plant morphology, anatomy and 


•  Molecular systematics

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


Fieldwork and visits to other institutes are 

an integral part of the course.  There is a 

two-week field course to Colombia in which 

students are taught a unique approach to 

tropical plant identification using mainly 

vegetative characters, field collections, and 

ecological survey techniques. The summer is 

devoted to three months of a major scientific 

research project of the student’s choice or a 

topic proposed by a supervisor. These research 

projects link in directly with active research 

programs at RBGE

Entry Requirements

Applicants should ideally hold a university 

degree, or its equivalent, in a biological, 

horticultural, or environmental science, 

although any well-motivated applications 

from other fields will be considered, as 

we are looking above all for candidates 

having a genuine interest in plants. Relevant 

work experience is desirable but not 

required. Evidence of proficiency in English 

must be provided if this is not an applicant’s 

first language.


There are a few funding options from the 

University of Edinburgh. Other international 

funding bodies have supported overseas 

students in the past.

Further Information

For further details on the program, including a 

course handbook, please visit the RBGE website:



plants/  or



If you have any questions or queries, you are 

most welcome to contact the Course Director 

at RBGE, or the Postgraduate Secretary of the 

University of Edinburgh: 


MSc  course Director,  

Dr. Louis Ronse De CraeneRoyal  

Botanic Garden Edinburgh 

Tel +44 (0)131 248 2804 



Postgraduate Program Secretary,  

The University of Edinburgh 

School of Biological Sciences  

The King’s Buildings 

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critical step in a molecular systematic 

study is the isolation of DNA suitable 

for subsequent use. In the early 1980s, plant 

molecular biology was in its infancy, confined 

initially to model species—primarily maize 

and other cultivated plants (the Arabidopsis 

era was still some years away). DNA typically 

was isolated from large amounts of tissue, often 

20 g or more, most commonly by laborious, 

expensive, several-day protocols that required 

CsCl density gradient ultracentrifugation and 

yielded low amounts of DNA, often broken 

down. For many questions, particularly 

systematics and population biology, quick 

and inexpensive methods suitable for large 

numbers of samples were needed. 

In the laboratory of Roger Beachy at 

Washington University in St. Louis, where Jeff 

was a postdoc with Roger and Walter Lewis, 

and Jane a technician from 1981 to 1984, as 

well as after our move to Cornell in 1984, we 

experimented with a number of published 

and unpublished “miniprep” methods, 

particularly Appels and Dvorak (1982), with 

variable success on different species and 

tissues, while continuing to use the CsCl 

method taught to us by Liz Zimmer (Rivin 

et al., 1982) for large-scale leaf isolations. In 

1985, we tried a protocol we found in a paper 

on ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA) variation in 

barley (Saghai-Maroof et al., 1984)—rDNA 

restriction fragment length polymorphisms 

were then a cutting-edge systematics tool—a 

useful-looking DNA isolation protocol using 

the detergent cetyltrimethylammonium 

bromide (CTAB) that the authors described 

as a modification of a method by Murray and 

Thompson (1980). 

Our notebooks show that we did our first 

CTAB isolation using the Saghai-Maroof et al. 

(1984) protocol on May 8, 1985, using 0.13 g of 

Glycine tomentella and 0.44 g of Pseudovigna 

CATB Isolation: The True Story

By Jeff J. Doyle and Jane L. Doyle 

School of Integrative Plant Science, Plant 

Breeding & Genetics Section and Plant 

Biology Section 

Cornell University, Ithaca NY 14853

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


argentea. The result: “Insoluble pellets!” A day 

later we were back to using the Appels and 

Dvorak (1982) method, and continued to use 

that while we experimented with a method for 

isolating pure chloroplast DNA (Bookjans et 

al., 1984). But we were also still in the market 

for a total DNA miniprep, and hadn’t given 

up on CTAB, trying the Saghai-Maroof et al. 

(1984) method again in August, and once more 

in December, without great success. Then, in 

the lab notebook on January 17, 1986, is a 

note to “try using 2×  Saghai-Maroof CTAB 

bfr. (they used lyophilized tissue!).” Doubling 

the buffer concentration compensated for the 

water content of the fresh leaf tissue we were 

using, which had diluted the detergent—the 

modification worked, and from that point on 

we switched to 2× CTAB in our lab for all of 

our miniprep isolations.

In the summer of 1986, at the AIBS conference 

at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 

we participated in a discussion at the BSA 

Phytochemical Section meeting about the 

new DNA approaches that were bringing the 

estimation of relationships closer to the level of 

the gene than could the use of flavonoids and 

other secondary compounds. It was decided 

that the Phytochemical Section should offer 

itself as a home for this form of “molecular 

systematics,” and, to further that goal, we 

were invited to publish the 2× CTAB protocol 

in the Phytochemical Bulletin. We accepted 

the invitation, and Doyle and Doyle (1987) 

appeared in the January-March issue of that 

quarterly periodical, edited in 1987 by David 

Giannasi, and comprising approximately 30 

printed pages stapled together and included 

with the American Journal of Botany mailing 

to members of the Section. Over 10,000 

citations later, one might say of this simple 

modification of someone else’s procedure that 

“the rest is history”… but the story only got 

more interesting after that publication. 

With an effective DNA isolation protocol in 

hand, we worked with Elizabeth Dickson, 

then a graduate student in our lab, on a series 

of experiments using dried, frozen, and 

preserved leaves, to determine the conditions 

under which DNA suitable for restriction 

digests could be obtained with the 2× CTAB 

method. Those results were reported in 

Taxon in 1987 (Doyle and Dickson, 1987), in 

a paper that, although it is the only version 

of the protocol published in a conventional 

journal, has been cited only 286 times. Two 

years later we were asked by a representative 

of Bethesda Research Laboratories, Inc., a 

major provider of restriction endonucleases 

at the time, to publish the 2×  CTAB protocol 

in their trade publication, Focus; that version 

appeared as Doyle and Doyle (1990) and has 

now been cited over 11,000 times. In 1990 we 

were asked to present tutorials on molecular 

methods at a NATO workshop on “molecular 

taxonomy” and published a set of “DNA 

Protocols for Plants” (Doyle and Doyle, 1991) 

in the workshop proceedings volume. That 

paper has been cited over 750 times. 

In 1992, during a seminar trip to Texas A&M 

University, we met a faculty member, Brian 

Taylor, who informed us that he had published 

a protocol identical to the 2× CTAB method in 

1982, also in Focus (Taylor and Powell, 1982). 

We had been completely unaware of this—as, 

apparently, had been the editor of Focus! We 

also learned that in 1985, Rogers and Bendich 

(1985) had published a method based on that 

procedure and on the even earlier protocol of 

Murray and Thompson (1980), and had used 

it, as we later did, to test the ability of DNA 

to survive under conditions of drying and 

preservation. Their paper has been cited over 

1200 times. 

We have never tried to take full credit for 

this protocol; Saghai-Maroof et al. (1984) is 

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


mentioned in the abstract of the Phytochemical 

Bulletin paper, and the text states that the 

method  is  “a  very  simple  modification  of 

a procedure originally described for barley 

by Saghai-Maroof et al. (1984), differing 

principally in that their procedure called for 

using lyophilized tissue, while we use fresh 

leaf material, and have compensated for the 

increased water content by increasing the 

concentration of the extraction buffer.” For 

years, when people have requested copies 

of the protocol from us—typically librarians 

who cannot find either Phytochemical Bulletin 

or Focus, both of which are nearly impossible 

to locate because of, apparently, not being 

conventional journals—we have sent a PDF 

file  that  provides,  along  with  the  protocol 

itself, a short version of this history, including 

providing as much of the reference to the 

Taylor paper as we have (“Taylor and Powell, 

1982, Focus 4: 4-6”) and the history he related 

to us. We could have saved ourselves a lot of 

time and effort—at the expense, it is true, of 

over 20,000 citations!—had we known of the 

existence of these other CTAB protocols in 

the 1980s. But it should be remembered that 

finding  relevant  papers  was  a  major  task  in 

the days before the internet made searching 

the vast literature simple. We found Appels 

and Dvorak (1982) and Saghai-Maroof et al. 

(1984) not because of their DNA protocols, 

but because they discussed rDNA evolution. 

By a series of accidents of fate, the two 

Doyle and Doyle protocols (1987, 1990) have 

been used worldwide now by generations of 

scientists, and it is not uncommon for us to 

be asked to pose for photographs with people 

at international conferences because of this, 

which is a bit embarrassing. An article in 

Nature (Van Noorden et al., 2014) discussed 

the 100 most-cited papers in the history of 

science—which in 2014 meant papers with 

at least 12,000 citations in the Thompson 

Reuters collection of over 58 million papers. 

None of our papers reporting the 2× CTAB 

method made the top 100 list, nor would they 

even now—but if summed they would have 

qualified as the 48th most cited paper of all 

time. Considering the topics of these most 

highly cited publications, Van Noorden et 

al. (2014) noted that papers reporting useful 

protocols dominated the list, and summed 

up with the following quote: “If citations are 

what you want, devising a method that makes 

it possible for people to do the experiments 

they want at all, or more easily, will get you a 

lot further than, say, discovering the secret of 

the Universe.” The 2× CTAB procedure is a 

prime example!


Appels, R., and J. Dvorak. 1982. The wheat ribo-

somal DNA spacer region: Its structure and varia-

tion in populations and among species. Theoreti-

cal and Applied Genetics 63: 337-348.

Bookjans, G., B. M. Stummann, and K. W. Hen-

ningsen. 1984. Preparation of chloroplast DNA 

from pea plastids isolated in a medium of high 

ionic strength. Analytical Biochemistry 141: 244-247.

Doyle, J. J., and E. E. Dickson. 1987. Preservation 

of plant samples for DNA restriction endonucle-

ase analysis. Taxon 36: 715-722.

Doyle, J. J. and J. L. Doyle. 1987. A rapid DNA 

isolation procedure for small quantities of fresh 

leaf tissue.  Phytochemical Bulletin 19: 11-15.

Doyle, J. J. and J. L. Doyle. 1990. Isolation of 

plant DNA from fresh tissue. Focus 12: 13-15.

Doyle, J. J. and J. L. Doyle. 1991. DNA and high-

er plant systematics: some examples from the le-

gumes. In: G. Hewitt, A. W. B. Johnson, and J. P. 

W. Young (eds.), Molecular Techniques in Taxon-

omy. NATO ASI Series H, Cell Biology Vol. 57, 

pp. 101-115.

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PSB  65  (1)  2019        


Murray, M. G., and W. F. Thompson. 1980. Rapid 

isolation of high molecular weight plant DNA. 

Nucleic Acids Research 8: 4321-4325.

Rivin, C., E. Zimmer, and V. Walbot. 1982. Isola-

tion of DNA and DNA recombinants from maize. 

In Maize for Biological Research, ed. W.F. Sheri-

dan.  Plant Molecular Biology Association and 

University of North Dakota Press, pp. 161-164.

Rogers, S. O., and A. J. Bendich. 1985. Extraction 

of DNA from milligram amounts of fresh, herbar-

ium, and mummified plant tissues. Plant Molecu-

lar Biology 5: 69-76.

Saghai-Maroof, M. A., K. M. Soliman, R. A. Jor-

gensen, and R. W. Allard. 1984. Ribosomal DNA 

spacer-length polymorphisms in barley: men-

delian inheritance, chromosomal location, and 

population dynamics. Proceedings of the National 

Academy of Sciences of the United States of Amer-

ica 81: 8014-8018.

Van Noorden, R., B. Maher, and R. Nuzzo. 2014. 

The top 100 papers. Nature 514: 550-553.

Register Now!


Early registration deadline May 31!







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PSB 65 (1) 2019 



o doubt my botanical leanings can 

be attributed to an innate sense of 

connection with plants. From an early age, I 

began to wonder what it must be like to be a 

plant; I even started my own garden at the age 

of 10. I admit that I was deeply influenced in 

my choice of interests. I was fortunate enough 

to have a dad who introduced me to gardening 

and horticulture. His immense gardens were 

a thing to behold—flowers, vegetables, fruit 

trees, all very productive and well-tended (in 

part due to my conscripted labor). Then later, as 

a teen, I had a high school science teacher who 

inspired me to dig deep, to be curious, and to 

appreciate and understand the science of plants. 

Not many kids in the neighborhood 

appreciated my garden. They would have been 

what we now call plant blind (Wandersee and 

Schussler, 2001). Sadly, nothing has really 

changed since then, and the term is now 

even used by the popular press (Blackhall-

Miles, 2015). Dugan (2016) points out that 

our disconnect with plants and nature is 

worsening, and that in Shakespeare’s time, 

audiences were much more plant-savvy than 

the urbanized populations of today. One sign 

of the times is that the horticulture industry 

Botany as a State of Flow  

Enhancing Plant Awareness through Video Games


By David Ehret

Sunfleck Software 

Sidney, BC Canada

cannot attract enough young people to fill the 

available jobs (Higgins, 2018). 

But since you are reading this article, it’s 

probably safe to assume that you have more 

than a passing interest in plants. You are 

probably not plant blind. Perhaps, if you 

are like me, you even find that when you 

are working with plants, you enter a state of 

bliss—a state of flow, as coined by psychologist 

Mihály   Csíkszentmihályi. Flow is a state 

of total immersion or concentration, a state 

where nothing else matters and happiness is 

all there is. Csíkszentmihályi (1975) found 

that this special state of mind often occurs 

when playing games. The term has entered the 

lexicon of video game culture to describe that 

joyous state of complete and utter engagement 

(Cowley et al., 2008).

Where does this state of bliss come from in 

games? In her fascinating book Reality is 

Broken, video game designer Jane McGonigal 


digital educational tools, educational games, 

gamification, plant appreciation, plant 

blindness, video games


The author would like to thank Melanie 

Stegman, Brandon Pittser, and Eliane 

Alhadeff for their valuable insights, Dariusz 

Andrulonis  and Olga Samoilova for their 

spectacular artwork, and Nathan Ehret for his 

helpful suggestions and meticulous editing.

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(2011a) investigates the reasons why so many 

people would rather be on an adventure in a 

virtual world than live in the real one. She says 

it’s because games offer four psychological 

benefits that are often lacking in the real 

world: satisfying work, the experience of being 

successful, social connection, and meaning. 

Well-designed games are, in effect, happiness 


Video games offer an opportunity to 


(re)ignite an interest in plants (Dugan, 2016). 

In fact, a number of 21st-century electronic 

tools are now being used to highlight the 

importance of plants. The highly successful 

YouTube channel Plants are Cool Too (https://, 

produced by Chris Martine at Bucknell 

University, and the Bloom video series (http:// produced 

by the non-profit group Seed Your Future, 

are making headway in engaging the public 

in botany. Botany podcasts, websites, blogs, 

and social media pages abound. However, one 

glaring area of deficiency is video games.

Let’s have a look at some recent statistics from 

the Entertainment Software Association (ESA, 


•  More than 150 million Americans play 

video games, with 45% being female. 

•  Sixty percent of Americans play video 

games daily. 

•  Gamers are getting older—the average 

American female gamer is 36 and the 

average male is 32, with about 12% being 

over 50 in both cases. 

And how much time is spent gaming? Recent 

surveys from six countries, including the 

United States, show about six hours per week 

on average (Limelight Networks, 2018). That 

may not sound like much, but consider the 

long term: 15 years of playing, which is not 

at all unusual, would be equivalent to all your 

time spent in high school (estimated at 4682 

hours). One should also consider scale. It’s 

reputed (McGonigal, 2011b) that the players 

of World of Warcraft have accumulated 

more than 6 million years of gameplay, more 

time than was needed for Australopithecus 

to evolve into present-day humans. It’s an 

astounding statistic, and one which makes 

me wonder what education would look like 

if that same commitment could be spent on 

games meant for learning. Given that there 

are 2.6 billion gamers worldwide (ESA, 2018), 

playing within 15 genres and 40 sub-genres 

(Wikipedia, 2018), surely there is room for the 

creative development of games about botany.

To find out, I conducted an informal search 

for games related to plants and botany on 

two popular desktop platforms for games, 

Steam and, and one mobile platform, 

the Apple App Store. Some information 

was also gathered for the Xbox 360 as a 

console platform comparison. Steam is the 

world’s foremost commercial distribution 

site for desktop games, while is more 

widely used for indie (independent) titles. 

Approximately 2% and 1% of games available 

on Steam and, respectively, were tagged 

as educational (Table 1). No information was 

available for the App Store, and the Xbox 360 

lists only five games of 1291 (0.4%) as being 


A fair number of games were tagged with 

plant-related words such as forest, gardening, 

nature, or farming, or had those words in 

the title or description for all three platforms 

(Table 1). This can be misleading. For example, 

the term forest in the title does not necessarily 

mean the game is about the plants in a forest, 

but rather that the forest is a backdrop for the 

game. For example, in Gardenscapes (Playrix 

Games) and Blossom Garden (Legend 

Dreams), the plants are largely incidental. In 

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Search Term or Tag






Apple App Store


Total Games






































Educational & Forest




Educational & Gardening




Educational & Nature




Educational & Farming




Educational & Plants




Educational & Science




Educational & Botany




Table 1. Number of games found on different platforms.

1.  Used a combination of search terms and tags, accessed August 25, 2018; URL: 

2.  Used tags exclusively, accessed August 24, 2018; URL: 

3.  Used search terms exclusively with the search facility, accessed August    


25, 2018 

4.  Estimate provided by for first quarter, 2018. 

5.  Data not available.

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PSB  65  (1)  2019        


the tower defense game Plants vs. Zombies, by 

PopCap Games, plants are obviously central to 

the gameplay, but could just as well be insects 

or robots. 

Those games with plants forming an integral 

part of the gameplay offer an opportunity 

to fulfill two important roles. The first is to 

raise awareness of plants without necessarily 

teaching botany. Success here depends on the 

objectives of the game developer. Botanicula, 

by Amanita Design, is a beautifully stylized 

point-and-click adventure game. The main 

characters are botanical creatures on a 

mission to rid their tree of evil parasites by 

solving puzzles and collecting useful items. 

The simulation game Viridi, by Ice Water 

Games, has the player tending to succulents, 

watching them slowly grow and flourish. The 

atmosphere is meditative, and the primary 

purpose is to relax the player. Similarly, the 

main purpose of the adventure/art game 

Flower, by that game company [sic], is to evoke 

strong emotions. The open world adventure 

game Skyrim (in the Elder Scrolls series by 

Bethesda Game Studios) allows the player 

to visit different biomes and to collect plants 

with certain alchemical properties, thereby 

elevating the role of plants in the game. 

It also allows the player to mod (modify) 

plants found in the game (for examples, see 

Nexusmods at

skyrim/mods/58091/), which is an effective 

way to get people thinking about plants. This 

build-your-own plant idea is also used in 

other games. In the adventure game Solarium 

(Figure 1), by Sunfleck Software, the player 

is a novice botanist in a futuristic world who 

is given the opportunity to create her own 

imaginative plants for doing well in training. 

(Full disclosure: Sunfleck Software is my game 

studio.)  Finally, in a simulation aimed entirely 

at creative expression, Mendel, by Owen Bell, 

lets the player create an endless array of plant 

forms and family histories, with the underlying 

algorithms based on sound classical genetics.

The second role of plant-focused games is to 

actually teach botany. Do these games exist? 

When combining the education tag with 

plant-related terms (Table 1), the number of 

games drops for all platforms, although not so 

much in the App Store (for unknown reasons). 

So the answer is yes, but the percentages of 

educational plant-related games on all three 

platforms are very low. 

The educational game category is not 

mutually exclusive of other genres. There 

is nothing to prevent a plant science game 

from being educational but in the format of 

an adventure or strategy game. Yet many 

are simple quizzes, particularly on mobile. 

Quizzes can be fun, but it’s a shame that the 

rich ecosystem of genres has not been more 

fully utilized for botanical games. But there 

are exceptions. One of the earliest examples 

is SimPark, a simulation game released by 

Maxis in 1996. Players manage a park and, in 

the process, learn ecological principles and 

the natural history of North American plants. 

There is even a dichotomous key for plant 

(and animal) identification. Now independent 

Figure 1. In-game screenshot of a player-creat-

ed garden in Solarium.

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studios are beginning to realize the potential. 

The casual game Crazy Plant Shop (Figure 2), 

by Filament Games, is a clear exception to the 

quiz genre, where players learn about genes 

and inheritance by breeding zany plants. It 

has received 75% positive reviews on Steam, 

showing that a well-crafted educational game 

can be well received. Another highly interactive 

casual game by Filament Games, Reach for the 

Sun, teaches plant structures and processes. 

Tyto Online is a massively multiplayer online 

role-playing game (MMORPG) by Immersed 

Games. Although not exclusively about plants, 

it has modules about ecology, and growth 

and genetics, where the player learns science 

concepts through quests and sandboxes 

(that is, the player can change his virtual 

world at will). Niche, by Stray Fawn Studio, 

is an interesting genetics survival game—

unfortunately without a plant component. 

But the point is that there are exciting new 

initiatives that take full advantage of current 

video game technology and trends to teach 


Video games are a remarkable convergence 

of artistic and technical creativity—music, 

art, 3D graphics, story, environmental design, 

characters, and animation to name a few. And 

yes, even writing code is a creative process. 

Just to make my point, Baba Yetu, a song by 

Christopher Tin composed in 2005 as the 

theme song for the video game Civilization 

IV, by Firaxis Games, won a Grammy 

Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement 

Accompanying Vocalists. It was the first 

piece of music composed for a video game 

to win a Grammy. Another example: in 2017, 

an 11-minute trailer for the video game 

Everything, by David O'Reilly, was the first 

video game trailer to qualify for an Academy 

Award nomination for Best Animated Short 


But building a video game is a complex and 

lengthy journey. It is especially difficult to 

make a fun game about science. This is why 

scientists and game developers, each with their 

own expertise, should work together. This is 

already happening with crowd-sourced science 

where players help resolve scientific problems 

through gameplay. Foldit, an online game 

developed by the University of Washington 

Center for Game Science in collaboration 

with the Department of Biochemistry, has 

players (with no biochemistry background) 

fold proteins to achieve new structural 

configurations, some of which could be used 

in the real world. A resulting paper (Cooper 

et al., 2010) acknowledged over 57,000 Foldit 

players. That must be a first for any science 

journal. One interesting approach is to mod 

an already existing game. This is what a 

team of biochemists and game designers at 

the University of Texas, Dallas have done 

with Polycraft World (Smaldone, 2017). 

Modded from the popular game Minecraft, 

by Mojang, players use principles of organic 

chemistry to create complex polymers from 

simple monomers. Sometimes the scientist 

and game developer are one and the same. 

Melanie Stegman is a biochemist who studied 

the molecular causes of brain cancer, birth 

defects, and tuberculosis until she went full-

time into game development. She founded 

Figure 2. In-game screenshot from Crazy 

Plant Shop.

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Molecular Jig Games, where she and her team 

of scientists and developers make such games 

as Immune Defense. Stegman was frustrated 

by the fact that when people would ask about 

her research, they would not understand the 

answers; her mission now is to help those 

people understand through games. “When 

I talk to people about cells and receptors, I 

want them to say ‘Which receptor?’ instead 

of ‘What is a receptor?’” She also created 

and runs the popular Science Game Center 

website (

games) where over 115 science games can 

be found. Stegman’s energy and enthusiasm 

for making science games is infectious. And 

that enthusiasm is becoming more evident 

among the growing ranks of scientists who are 

morphing into indie game developers (Kwok, 


The number of independently developed 

games has exploded in recent years. However, 

the process of making and distributing 

games is costly. The availability of grants and 

new funding models such as online crowd-

funding sites help offset those costs for small 

studios, but even so, it is often a struggle, 

with game development becoming a labor of 

love. Brandon Pittser, Director of Marketing 

and Outreach at Filament Games, says, 

“Educational game developers face the same 

issues as commercial game developers, most 

of which can be traced back to funding. In 

terms of distributing educational games, the 

target customers are often formal educational 

environments like schools and libraries, which 

tend not to be flush with extra cash.”

Having said that, the market for serious 

games (those with a purpose other than pure 

entertainment) is growing. According to Eliane 

Alhadeff, owner of the Serious Games Market 

website (https://www.seriousgamemarket.

com), “In the commercial arena, SG [serious 

games] have gone mainstream. The worldwide 

educational game market now is in boom 

phase. Global, regional, and country market 

conditions are now extremely favorable for 

Serious Game suppliers.” This is echoed by 

Pittser: “A lot of major educational publishers 

are now tuned in to the fact that games can take 

their existing curricular offerings to the next 

level by simply adding some fun, surprise, and 

engagement without harming the pedagogical 

accuracy and credibility of the product. It’s a 

great way to keep students hooked and on-

task with learning content.” Even the popular 

game Assassin’s Creed Origins, by Ubisoft 

Montréal, has an educational Discovery 

Tour edition. And serious games get serious 

attention from other quarters as well. There’s 

the non-profit Games For Change (G4C) 

organization in New York City, whose tagline 

says it all: “Empowering game creators and 

social innovators to drive real-world impact 

through games.” In fact, some of the games 

mentioned in this article have won awards at 

their annual G4C Festival. And then there’s 

BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and 

Television Arts, who in 2018 introduced a new 

Game Beyond Entertainment category for the 

British Academy Games Awards.

But how effective are educational games? 

Hundreds of studies have been conducted 

on the efficacy of video games in education. 

Results seem to vary and likely depend on the 

specifics of each game. Efficacy also depends 

on evaluation criteria and methodology as 

pointed out by Ke (2009), whose metadata 

analysis of 89 studies is intended to establish 

guidelines and a “best practices” approach 

for future studies. To my knowledge, only 

one botanical video game has been evaluated 

in a classroom setting with the results being 

published. The mobile game Little Botany 

(Jamonnak and Cheng, 2017) lets players grow 

their own plants based on real-time weather 

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data, anywhere in the world. In so doing, 

they learn about plant structure and function 

(respiration, photosynthesis, transpiration). 

Using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 

strongly disagree to strongly agree, player 

ratings for various aspects of playability were 

high, averaging greater than 4.0.

Here are my suggestions for the elements 

needed in a stimulating game about botany:

•  First, I’m a real fan of story in a game. 

Good examples of adventure games 

with strong narratives are Gone Home 

and Tacoma (both by The Fullbright 

Company), Everybody’s Gone to the 

Rapture (The Chinese Room), Firewatch 

(Campo Santo), and What Remains of 

Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow). As it turns 

out, a solid story is important in learning 

as it maintains motivation, which is often 

a big problem in educational games 

(Padilla-Zea et al., 2013). 

•  Next, we need enticing graphics. For 

an educational game, this might mean 

using botanically accurate 3D models. 

But these are not easy to come by and 

would likely require custom-crafting. 

For example, the stunningly detailed 

models shown in Figure 3 are the work 

of Dariusz Andrulonis, a freelance 3D 

artist with a biological background. But 

botanical science can also be taught with 

imaginative, even cartoon-like, plants. For 

example, the whimsical 2D series of plants 

in Figure 4 by Olga Samoilova might be 

an excellent choice for a platformer game. 

It all depends on the mood that the game 

creators are trying to achieve. 

•  We also need a game design that promotes 

learning. Although there are many options 

here, I like the stealth approach. As one 

reviewer of Solarium put it, “They tricked 

me into learning.” A good example of that 

sort of subtlety is used in the game Never 

Alone, by Upper One Games. This puzzle-

platformer shares the stories of Iñupiaq 

culture as entertainment, but cleverly 

revitalizes interest in Alaskan indigenous 


So, what would be the story? Being a plant 

physiologist with an interest in plant-water 

relations, my first thought would be a game 

about the adventures of a water molecule. I 

think we would need to anthropomorphize 

a bit and give the molecule a personality and 

a name. So, Emma would wander within the 

plant after first entering the root from the soil, 

journeying to the leaves through the xylem 

and finally departing the plant to join her long-

lost friends in the atmosphere. Along the way, 

Emma might help the plant grow by joining 

forces with other water molecules to increase 

turgor and push mightily on cell walls. Or 

she could be recycled from a leaf back to the 

roots again through the phloem, carrying 

dissolved sugars with her, perhaps frustrating 

her to no end. Or maybe she’s torn to bits after 

wandering into a chloroplast and being caught 

in the process of photosynthesis (very nasty). 

We could imagine all kinds of sociological 

Figure 3. Botanically accurate 3D models of 

a Carboniferous forest created by Dariusz An-

drulonis. (https://dariuszandrulonis.artstation.

com/) for the education portal, The 

scene took almost three weeks of intensive work 

to complete.

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undertones as Emma competes with all those 

other water molecules struggling to evaporate 

from the interior of the leaf (me first! me first!) 

and ultimately gains her freedom through 


And here’s the paradox: designing a video 

game to be played indoors in order to promote 

botany which should take a person outdoors. 

One way to bridge that gap is to develop games 

which are used exclusively outdoors. For 

example, Seek, by iNaturalist, rewards players 

with badges for finding examples of plants, 

animals, and fungi, using image recognition 

technology to identify the player’s uploaded 

photographs. For many years, paleontologist 

Scott Sampson was the host of Dinosaur Train, 

an animated television show teaching children 

about prehistoric life and environments 

(worth watching even as an adult). He has 

always been an advocate for getting out into 

nature, yet was part of a show that seemingly 

kept kids glued to a screen. In an interview 

(Becktold, 2016) about this, Sampson said: 

“We’re using technology to leverage nature 

connection. If that’s where the eyes are, let’s go 

there and promote this thing that’s really good 

and important for kids.” I agree. 

Video games provide additional ways to 

communicate the beautiful science of 

plants. The advent of virtual reality (VR) 

and augmented reality (AR) will offer 

unprecedented opportunity to engage 

students and the public in all things botanical. 

“The new paradigms of immersion and 

interaction provided by these new mediums 

creates a new frontier in how we develop and 

interact with digital learning content, which is 

very exciting,” writes Pittser. And it’s already 

happening: Tree, by Milica Zec and Winslow 

Porter, is a brilliant new VR project which will 

finally give me the chance to see and feel what 

it’s like to be a plant. As Stephen Jay Gould 

says in his 1993 book, Eight Little Piggies, 

“We cannot win this battle to save species and 

environments without forging an emotional 

bond between ourselves and nature as well—

Figure 4. Fantasy 2D plants created by freelance artist, Olga Samoilova (https://www.artstation.

com/ollsamoilova). The drawing took 64 hours to complete.

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for we will not fight to save what we do not 

love.” My hope is that the power of video 

games will ignite in others the same love of 

plants that was ignited in that 10-year-old boy 

in his garden so many years ago.


Becktold, W. 2016. In Conversation with Dinosaur 

Train’s Scott Sampson. Sierra, The national maga-

zine of the Sierra Club.


conversation-dinosaur-train-s-scott-sampson. Ac-

cessed August 30, 2018. 

Blackhall-Miles, R. 2015. We need a cure for plant 

blindness. The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.


need-a-cure-for-plant-blindness. Accessed October 

10, 2018.

Cooper, S., Khatib, F., Treuille, A., Barbero, J., Lee, 

J., Beenen, M., Leaver-Fay, A., Baker, D., Popović, 

Z., and Foldit players. 2010. Predicting protein 

structures with a multiplayer online game. Nature 

466: 756–760.

Cowley, B., Charles, D., Black, M., and Hickey, R. 

2008.  Toward  an  understanding  of  flow  in  video 

games. Computers in Entertainment 6(2): Article 20. 

Csíkszentmihályi, M. 1975. Beyond Boredom and 

Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play, San 

Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-87589-261-2

Dugan, F. M. 2016. Shakespeare, Plant Blindness 

and Electronic Media. Plant Science Bulletin 62: 85-92. 

ESA, 2018.

dustry-facts/. Accessed October 10, 2018.

Higgins, A. 2018. The horticulture industry’s age 

problem is bigger than you think. Washington Post





Jamonnak, S. and Cheng, E. 2017. Little Botany: A 

mobile game utilizing data integration to enhance 

plant science education. International Journal of 

Computer Games Technology. Article ID 3635061.

Ke, F. 2009. A qualitative meta-analysis of computer 

games as learning tools. In R. E. Ferdig (Ed.), Hand-

book of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in 

Education, pp. 1-32, New York: IGI Global.

Kwok, R. 2017. Game On. Scientists are designing 

board,  card  and  digital  games  to  convey  scientific 

concepts. Nature 547: 369-371.

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McGonigal, J. 2011a. Reality is Broken. Why Games 

Make Us Better and How They Can Change the 

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24, 2018.

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and Voit, W. 2017. Teaching science through vid-

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he objectives of this field research 

project included: the first comprehensive 

survey and inventory of tree canopy biota, 

including Myxomycetes, macrofungi, lichens, 

mosses, liverworts, ferns, green algae and 

cyanobacteria, formerly known as blue 

green algae, myxobacteria, insects, and 

mollusks in Great Smoky Mountains National 

Park (GSMNP); to search for and collect 

myxomycete species new to science and 

document new records for the park; compare 

the assemblages of tree canopy life forms 

on the bark of different living tree species 

with targeted groups occurring on ground 

sites; assemble a diverse team of experts 

who will collect, identify, and curate the 

targeted organisms; provide mentorship and 

publication experiences for undergraduate 

and master degree students which will 

enhance their opportunities for postgraduate 

Student Team-Based Tree  

Canopy Biodiversity Research in 

Great Smoky Mountains  

National Park

study and future careers; involve volunteers, 

park interns, teachers, citizen scientists, and 

students in interpretative exhibits, news media 

coverage (print and television), publication 

of articles in popular magazines, newsletters, 

and in peer-reviewed journal articles that will 

send a powerful message for conservation and 

biodiversity; prepare and present posters and 

power point talks at local, regional, national, 

and international professional meetings 

(Keller, 2004). 


This research project emphasized three 

phases: the Adventure Phase (instruction 

and application of rope-climbing techniques 

to access and sample from the tree canopy); 

the  Laboratory Phase (isolation, identification, 

database management, and statistical analyses of 

tree canopy biota using moist chamber cultures  

and other techniques); and the 

Publication Phase (students 

published in newsletters and 

peer-refereed journals and gave 

oral and poster presentations 

at local, regional, national, 

and international professional 

meetings (Keller, 2004; 

Kilgore et al., 2008)).

By Harold W. Keller, Ph.D
University of Central Missouri, Biol-

ogy Professor Emeritus and Botanical 

Research Institute of Texas, Resident 

Research Associate 

Botanical Research Institute of Texas 

1700 University Drive 

Fort Worth, Texas 76107-3400 


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Informational flyers were posted around 

the University of Central Missouri (UCM) 

campus and distributed at annual conferences 

that described the objectives, the rope-

climbing school, course requirements, 

financial support, availability of research 

and teaching assistantships, faculty involved 

in mentorships, and website access with 

scenic photographs of the study area. 

Announcements were published in national 

newsletters. Presentations were given by 

project leaders and students at departmental 

seminars, at student orientations, and in 

biology courses that highlighted research 

results and professional activities.    

Interview questions determined student 

interest relative to the three project phases and 

emphasized experiences beyond just research, 

such as travel opportunities, professional 

and academic networking, international 

collaboration, media and outreach activities, 

and grant writing and fundraising experience. 

Student selection included review of 

transcripts and coursework in biology, a 

written essay expressing interest in field 

ecology research, letters of recommendation, 

and a personal interview. Interviews included 

assessment of student ability to follow 

instructions and safety protocols, foster 

team spirit with a cooperative attitude, and 

the interpersonal skills essential for a large 

collaborative effort. Prior field experiences 

such as hiking, backpacking, and rock or 

wall climbing and camping, especially in 

remote areas, was an additional consideration 

in reviewing applicants. Extracurricular 

activities were also important, including 

relevant skills obtained in team sports, 4-H 

projects, farm or ranching experiences, small 

business activities (paper route was one 

example), and leadership positions as well 

as skills such as use of computer software, 

microscopes, digital cameras, topographical 

maps, global positioning systems, and future 

career interests, especially graduate school 

(Keller, 2005). 



Each student was required to enroll in BIOL 

4011, Special Problems in Biology Research, 

for one credit hour. This included preparing 

a journal of each day’s field activities and at 

the end of the trip a paper organized into 

sections (Introduction, Methodology, Results, 

Conclusions, and Epilogue) prompted by a 

series of leading questions. A few examples of 

these questions were: Why was the GSMNP 

selected as the study site area? Describe the 

advantages and disadvantages of the double 

rope-climbing technique? What are some of 

the discoveries you made in the tree canopy? 

Why did you want to participate in this 

research project? What did you learn about 

yourself from climbing and sampling from 

the tree canopy and living and working with 

other student team members? Based on your 

observations in the GSMNP, develop a series 

of questions or hypotheses used in laboratory 

experiments for the targeted organisms.





Group activities after a hard day of climbing 

and collecting bark samples from trees helped 

to break the work routine, and included sorting 

bark samples; separating mosses, liverworts, 

and lichens; and preparing voucher herbarium 

specimens for the tree species. Everyone 

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pitched in to prepare and cook supper, enjoy a 

hot meal together, and wash dishes. Free time, 

especially on rainy days, involved the ground 

crew, mostly university faculty botanists, 

who gave special lectures, slide shows, and 

field demonstrations on how to collect and 

identify the targeted organisms. This helped 

the students learn how to recognize what 

they observed in the tree canopy (Keller et al., 


Field research teams that play together, 

stay together—and this helped to develop 

a special bond through teamwork. These 

group activities involved playing card games; 

throwing and catching baseballs, softballs, and 

Frisbees; and tossing yard darts. The students 

also prepared a group supper for volunteer 

park personnel, park interns and rangers, and 

friends who assisted us on the trails. 

Some students on their days off would hike 

and bike into the backcountry to enjoy the 

scenic wonders of the Smokies, such as the 

flaming azaleas at Gregory Bald and the 

Cades Cove loop road, observe spectacular 

waterfalls (Abrams Falls, Grotto Falls, and 

Laurel Falls), see the synchronous fireflies, 

enjoy the thrill of water rafting, or just relax 

and read. Kenny Snell collected myxomycetes 

at night with a flashlight and discovered tiny 

myxomycete fruiting bodies in various stages 

of development that glistened and became 

more conspicuous at night on the underside 

of decaying logs (Keller and Snell, 2018). 

These nighttime flashlight forays resulted in 

the first-time observations of slugs feeding 

on the immature fruiting body stages of 

myxomycetes published in the journal 

Mycologia, with the digital image of the slug 

eating the myxomycete selected for the front 

cover artwork (Keller and Snell, 2002).

Melissa Skrabal designed and sketched our 

tree canopy biodiversity logo, which was 

made into a cloth patch to provide research 

team members, volunteers, park personnel 

and interns, newspaper reporters, family and 

friends with a memento of our tree canopy 

biodiversity research project. This logo 

recognized the support of the National Science 

Foundation and Biodiversity Surveys & 

Inventories Program and our home institution 

Central Missouri State University (now 

UCM). More than 100 of these patches were 

distributed and posted on bulletin boards, 

worn on blazers and jackets, and identified 

gear bags or backpacks (Fig. 1; Kilgore et al., 






The park includes more than 210,000 ha and 

serves as a refuge for one of the richest and 

most diverse biotas in a temperate region of 

the world. It contains the largest remaining 

Figure 1. Tree canopy biodiversity logo made 

into a cloth patch; color sketch by Melissa Sk-

rabal. Photo credit HWK.

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tracts of old-growth forest in the United 

States of America estimated at 40,000 ha, and 

was designated a National Park on June 15, 

1934, an International Biosphere Reserve on 

October 26, 1976, and a World Heritage Site 

on December 6, 1983.  It is home to a variety 

of forest types including spruce-fir, northern 

hardwood, pine-oak, hemlock, and cove 

hardwood with an elevation gradient from 

263 to 1994 m. In addition, abundant year-

round rainfall averaging 216 cm annually 

with moderate temperatures from 4° to 

23°C provides ideal growth conditions for 

cryptogams. A new research initiative, the 

All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI), was 

started in 2000 under the rubric of a non-

profit organization, Discover Life in America 

(DLIA). It was the first attempt to inventory all 

life forms in any American national park (Fig. 

2; Keller and Barfield, 2017).   




A two-day climbing school was held at 

Pertle Springs on the UCM campus with a 

professional arborist as the instructor. Each 

student had to be over the age of 18, have 

medical insurance, and was required to sign 

a Release and Acknowledgment of Risks 

Agreement prior to attending the tree-climbing 

school. Contact information was provided in 

case of medical emergency as was optional 

information regarding any physical condition 

that might increase the risk of being in the 

field for prolonged times and the endurance 

required to hike long distances and to climb 

trees. Safety precautions and safe climbing 

protocols were emphasized throughout this 

tree canopy research project. 

Figure 2. Scenic Cades Cove valley where the project lodging was located. 

Photo credit HWK.

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Park personnel helped in obtaining collecting 

permits issued by the U. S. Department of 

Interior, provided topographical maps marked 

with trails that had champion-sized trees, and 

gave briefing sessions on proper conduct in 

the park. DLIA provided cabins equipped 

with beds, a kitchen, showers, a washer and 

dryer, and computer outlets.


Our greatest challenge was stormy, rainy 

weather with lightning strikes, which posed 

serious safety hazards. Weather forecasts in 

the GSMNP were unreliable since they were 

not precise for any specific regions of the park.  

Because it is so large, it frequently rains heavily 

in one part of the park with little or no rain in 

other parts. At lower elevations, movement of 

storms was seen at farther distances, and this 

allowed the climber ample time to complete 

work and exit the tree. Higher altitudes made it 

difficult to tell exactly how far away a potential 

storm was located because of mountain ridges 

blocking long-range views. Furthermore, rain 

is also a hazard because wet ropes are more 

likely to slip, tightening knots, and making 

ascent more difficult. Wet branches reduce 

traction, making it more difficult to climb and 

move within the tree. Ground sites become 

wet and slippery, increasing the chance that 

a climber or ground crew member would 

fall. Climbing just before, during, and after 

thunderstorms was avoided due to safety 

concerns (Kilgore et al., 2008).


National Geographic Television produced 

two films, “BioBlitz Rock Creek Park 2007” 

and “Smoky Mountains Treetop Exploration,” 

that appeared as part of the Wild Chronicles 

series on Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) 

nationwide. The former was Episode #236, 

from August, 2007 and shot in Washington 

D.C. at Rock Creek National Park, and the 

latter was Episode #318 from February, 2008 

and shot in GSMNP (North Carolina and 

Tennessee) with running times of seven 

minutes for each episode. Boyd Matson 

was the host and program narrator. These 

films featured UCM women climbers 

demonstrating climbing and bark sampling. 

In Episode #318, the storyline documented 

the exploration of the tree canopy in GSMNP 

using the doubled rope climbing method 

by student climbers Sydney Everhart and 

Courtney Kilgore, who demonstrated how to 

access, climb, and gather tree bark samples. 

Newspaper reporters interviewed student 

climbers and wrote articles about the project; 

these were published in the Washington Post, 

the Kansas City Star, the Maryville Times, the 

Mountain Press, the Tennessean, the Knoxville 

News-Sentinel, the Daily-Star Journal, 

(Warrensburg, Missouri), UCM Today alumni 

magazine, and the Muleskinner (UCM student 

newspaper). Some of these articles appeared 

on the front page under banner headlines and 

went out on the Associated Press Wire Service.





The NSF Research Experience for Teachers 

Program grant financially supported Trish 

Smith, a Warrensburg Middle School 7th-

grade life science teacher, and her students in 

a tree canopy study at Pertle Springs on the 

UCM campus. This research project involved 

UCM faculty and students who mentored 

the students in field collection of tree bark 

samples and monitored the preparation and 

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observation of moist chamber bark cultures 

in the laboratory. This provided mentorship 

opportunities for female UCM students who 

helped students detect and identify many 

different life forms in moist chamber cultures 

(Smith and Keller, 2004).


Kenny Snell conducted the first tree canopy 

study during the summers of 2000 and 

2001 to characterize myxomycete (slime 

mold) communities using the doubled 

rope-climbing method in GSMNP. Most 

myxomycete species had an optimum pH 

and were obtained from all heights from 3 to 

24 m based on bark samples collected from 

living trees cultured in moist chambers. The 

standard practice of collecting bark samples 

from living trees at about 3 m will recover the 

majority of myxomycete species cultured in 

moist chambers. Thirty myxomycete species 

new to the park were recorded from the tree 

canopy (Snell and Keller, 2003; Snell et al., 

2003; Keller, 2004). A departmental, college, 

and university review panel recognized Kenny 

Snell with the two highest awards a graduate 

student can receive at UCM: first place for the 

Graduate Student Thesis Award and first place 

for Outstanding Graduate Scholar Award. 

He currently is an instructor at Metropolitan 

Community College, Kansas City Missouri 

and teaches botany, environmental science, 

and genetics. 

Melissa Skrabal discovered a new myxomycete 

species,  Diachea arboricola, on July 4, 2000 

high in the tree canopy of a living White 

Oak tree in the Cades Cove area of GSMNP 

(Fig. 3). Plasmodial tracks (veins of the slime 

plasmodial stage) were found on the bark 

surface along with mature stalked sporangia in 

perfect condition, extending from 10 to 24 m. 

This observation of plasmodial tracks up to 24 

m with scattered sporangia forming along the 

way had never been described and published. 

Tiny stalked sporangia (1–1.3 mm in total 

height) were collected from the crevices and 

fissures of the bark exposing their glittering, 

iridescent, silvery-golden outer surface and 

basal spectral rainbow colors of the spore-

containing spheres (Fig. 4). She observed 

the bright yellow phaneroplasmodial stage 

with a network of trailing plasmodial veins 

and described subsequent development of 

sporangial formation from bark culture in 

moist chambers (Keller et al., 2004; Keller, 

2005; Keller et al., 2009). She graduated in 

2001 from Central Missouri State University, 

Magna Cum Laude

Figure 3. Melissa Skrabal with climbing gear 

collecting bark samples from the canopy of a 

live white oak tree #88. Photo credit HWK.

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Sydney Everhart found that there was 

no association between percent cover of 

epiphytes and myxomycetes; however, she 

did demonstrate that bark pH was a major 

factor influencing a community of corticolous 

myxomycete species. Acidic tree bark had a 

specific group of myxomycete species that was 

different from species associated with near 

neutral tree bark. She concluded that some 

myxomycetes are restricted to bark with a 

narrow pH range whereas others are generalists 

occurring on a wide range of pH. Patchy 

distribution of myxomycetes was attributed 

to the small plasmodium characteristic of 

most corticolous species (Everhart et al., 

2009; Everhart et al., 2008; Everhart and 

Keller, 2008). She received multiple awards 

for her tree canopy research including the 

Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB) 

Research Award in Microbiology for the 

outstanding oral presentation and the Elsie 

Quarterman-Catherine Keever Award for the 

best ecological poster at the 2007 ASB annual 

meeting, UCM Research Council’s first place 

award for Outstanding Graduate Thesis, and 

Biology Department Outstanding Graduate 

Student Award. She earned her Ph.D. from 

the University of Georgia and is currently 

Assistant Professor/Quantitative Ecologist 

in the Department of Plant Pathology at the 

University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Courtney Kilgore’s research on myxomycete 

aerial reproductive structures is a canopy-first 

study of this type. Myxomycete communities 

were different on bark and pine cones of short-

leaf pine as were communities on redbud bark 

and aerial seed pods, and common milkweed 

stems and follicles, coneflower stems and 

inflorescences, and Yucca stems and follicles. 

Colonization patterns for the herbaceous 

perennial prairie plants occurred within a 

year and were distinct enough to warrant the 

coinage of a new habitat term, herbicolous, 

for these myxomycetes (Kilgore et al., 2009). 

Her climbing knowledge, application of 

safety protocols, and athletic skills using 

the double rope-climbing method were 

highlighted in JBRIT (Kilgore et al., 2008, 

2009).  She received the UCM Nahm Award 

for the Outstanding Graduate Student from 

the UCM College of Science and Technology. 

A photograph of her collecting bark samples 

in the tree canopy was on the front cover of 

the July 2008 issue of Southeastern Biology 

journal. The Mycological Society of America 

(MSA)  held their annual  meeting (2008) at 

Pennsylvania State University, and each year 

there is a t-shirt design contest open to all 

MSA members. Courtney submitted a black-

and-white pencil sketch that was selected as 

the contest winner. Four edible mushroom 

cultivars were included in the winning design: 

Shiitake, Hen of the Woods, Portabella white 

variety, and the velvet foot mushroom with 

four mold species adorning the outer edge 

Figure 4. Stalked iridescent sporangium of a 

new species of myxomycete Diachea arbori-

cola. Photo credit KLS.

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(Fig. 5). She currently is an instructor of 

botany and biology at Robeson Community 

College, Lumberton, North Carolina.

Erica Parker studied the relationship between 

pH and myxomycete communities on bark of 

five living tree species at Big Oak Tree State 

Park, Missouri. She found that American 

elms with a neutral pH of 7.0 had a distinct 

group of corticolous myxomycete species 

and bald cypress with a more acidic pH of 

4.6 had a different group. She represented 

the Department of Biology and her McNair 

Scholar’s paper received the first-place award. 

She graduated Cum Laude in 2004 from UCM 

(Parker and Keller, 2003). 

Angela Scarborough collected bark samples 

from the tree canopy at high elevation sites 

(about 1800 m) in the Clingmans Dome area 

of GSMNP from Fraser fir and red spruce, 

both with a pH near 4.0. These species are 

gradually declining and dying apparently due 

to acid deposition and aerial pollution. Fraser 

fir harbored no myxomycete species, whereas 

red spruce had the lowest mean bark pH and a 

distinctive assemblage of myxomycete species. 

Eastern red cedar, sampled at low elevation 

sites in GSMNP and Warrensburg, had a pH 

near neutral, with the highest myxomycete 

diversity of any tree species studied (Keller 

et al., 2009; Scarborough et al., 2009). 


Competing against graduate students at the 

ASB 2006 annual meeting held in Gatlinburg, 

Tennessee, she won first place for the 

outstanding microbiology oral presentation 

and first place for the best ecology poster, the 

Elsie Quarterman-Catherine Keever award. 

She also received the UCM Sigma Xi best 

undergraduate student paper award, the UCM 

Department of Biology and Earth Science 

Undergraduate Research award, as well as 

the UCM Distinguished Student Writer 

based on her tree canopy biodiversity paper 

(Scarborough et al., 2009). 


This tree canopy research project (years 2000–

2008) resulted in 28 peer reviewed papers, 

12 newsletter articles, 28 oral presentations, 

and 30 poster presentations at professional 

meetings, including the International 

Congress on the Systematics and Ecology of 

Myxomycetes, Association of Southeastern 

Biologists, Mycological Society of America, 

and Missouri Academy of Sciences. More 

information is available at http://www.brit.

org/HKeller, and PDFs are available from the 

author. Traditionally males have dominated 

field research in ecology, but in this tree 

canopy study, females dominated.

Figure 5. Illustrated fungi, mushrooms, and 

molds t-shirt design.

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This tree canopy study would not have been 

possible without the financial support of 

the National Science Foundation, National 

Geographic Society Research Committee, 

Discover Life in America, Missouri Department 

of Natural Resources, Sigma Xi, The Scientific 

Research Honor Society, and United States 

Department of Education McNair Scholars 

Program.  Thanks go to many others who helped 

us in countless ways.

This research project was a team effort involving 

undergraduate and master’s degree students and 

faculty research mentors from the University of 

Central Missouri (UCM) and other universities. 

Student participants who published papers in 

peer-reviewed journals were: Sydney E. Everhart, 

M.S., Courtney M. Kilgore, M.S., Kenneth W. 

Snell, M.S., Erin E. Fanning, B.S., Erica E. Parker, 

B.S., Angela R. Scarborough, B.S., Melissa S. 

Skrabal, B.S. (arranged alphabetically with 

graduation degrees).


Everhart, S. E., J. S. Ely, and H. W. Keller. 2009. 

Evaluation of tree canopy epiphytes and bark 

characteristics associated with the presence of 

corticolous myxomycetes. Botany 87: 509–517.

Everhart, S. E., and H. W. Keller. 2008. Life his-

tory strategies of corticolous myxomycetes: the 

life cycle, fruiting bodies, plasmodial types, and 

taxonomic orders. International Journal of Fun-

gal Diversity 29: 1–16.

Everhart, S. E., H. W. Keller, and J. S. Ely. 2008. 

Influence of bark pH on the occurrence and distri-

bution of tree canopy myxomycete species. Myco-

logia 100: 191–204. 

Keller, H. W. 2004. Tree canopy biodiversity: stu-

dent research experiences in Great Smoky Moun-

tains National Park. Systematics and Geography 

of Plants 74: 47–65.

Keller, H. W. 2005. Undergraduate research field 

experiences: tree canopy biodiversity in Great 

Smoky Mountains National Park and Pertle 

Springs, Warrensburg, Missouri. (Invited Paper).  

Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly 

25: 162–168. 

Keller,  H.  W.,  and  K.  M.  Barfield.  2017.  Great 

Smoky Mountains National Park: The people’s 

park. Fungi 10: 44–64.

Keller, H. W., S. E. Everhart, M. Skrabal, and C. 

M. Kilgore. 2009. Tree canopy biodiversity in 

temperate forests: exploring islands in the sky. 

(Special invited paper.) Southeastern Biology 56: 


Keller, H. W., M. Skrabal, U. H. Eliasson, and 

T. W. Gaither. 2004. Tree canopy biodiversity in 

the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: eco-

logical and developmental observations of a new 

myxomycete species of DiacheaMycologia 96: 


Keller, H. W., and K. L. Snell. 2002. Feeding ac-

tivities of slugs on Myxomycetes and macrofungi. 

Mycologia 94: 757–760. [Color image of a slug 

feeding on immature myxomycete sporangia se-

lected for the front cover artwork.]

Keller, H. W., and K. L. Snell. 2018. Hunting and 

collecting myxomycetes at night with a flashlight. 

Fungi 11: 43–44. 

Kilgore, C. M., H. W. Keller, and J. S. Ely. 2009. 

Aerial reproductive structures on vascular plants 

as a microhabitat for myxomycetes. Mycologia 

101: 303–317.

Kilgore, C. M., H. W. Keller, S. E. Everhart, A. R. 

Scarborough, K. L. Snell, M. S. Skrabal, C. Pot-

torff, J. S. Ely. 2008. Research and student expe-

riences using the doubled rope climbing method. 

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of 

Texas 2: 1309–1336. 

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PSB  65  (1)  2019        


Parker, E. E., and H. W. Keller. 2003. Correlation 

of pH with assemblages of corticolous myxomy-

cetes in Big Oak Tree State Park. Journal of the 

McNair Central Achievers Program, University of 

Central Missouri. Vol. XII (Issue 1): 4–8. [Award-

ed first place by a university panel of judges.]

Scarborough, A. R., H. W. Keller, and J. S. Ely. 

2009. Species assemblages of tree canopy myxo-

mycetes related to pH. Castanea 74: 93–104.

Smith, P. A., and H. W. Keller. 2004. National Sci-

ence Foundation Research Experience for Teach-

ers (RET). Inoculum 55: 1–5.

Snell, K. L., and H. W. Keller. 2003. Vertical dis-

tribution and assemblages of corticolous myxo-

mycetes on five tree species in the Great Smoky 

Mountains National Park. Mycologia 95: 565–


Snell K. L., H. W. Keller, and U. H. Eliasson. 

2003. Tree canopy myxomycetes and new records 

from ground sites in the Great Smoky Mountains 

National Park. Castanea 68: 97–108.



Keller, H. W., S. E. Everhart, and C. M. Kilgore. 

2017. The Myxomycetes: Basic Biology, Life Cy-

cles, Genetics and Reproduction. In: Stephenson, 

S. and C. Rojas (eds). Myxomycetes: Biology, 

Systematics, Biogeography and Ecology, Chapter 

1, pp. 1–40. Elsevier, Atlanta, GA.

Keller, H. W., P. Davison, C. Haufler, and D. B. 

Lesmeister. 2003. Polypodium appalachianum

an unusual tree canopy epiphytic fern in the Great 

Smoky Mountains National Park. American Fern 

Journal 93: 36–41.

Keller, H. W., and C. M. Kilgore. 2008. Smoky 

mountains treetop exploration airs on Wild Chron-

icles. Inoculum 59(2): 47. 

Keller, H. W., and M. Skrabal. 2002. Discovery 

of a new obligate tree canopy myxomycete in the 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Inoculum 

53: 1–4. 

Skrabal, M., K. L. Snell, L. Henley, J. Counts, and 

H. W. Keller. 2001. Fungi in the canopy - Great 

Smokies survey. The Mycophile, Newsletter for 

the North American Mycological Association 42: 

6, 7, 13.

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By Dr. Catrina Adams,  

Education Director

BSA Science Education News and Notes serves 

as an update about the BSA’s education efforts 

and the broader education scene. We invite 

you to submit news items or ideas for future 

features. Contact Catrina Adams, Education 

Director, at

As we get midway through the latest 

PlantingScience session, we have just under 

236 student teams actively investigating seeds 

germination, photosynthesis, and agronomy. 

We love to brag about our scientist mentors on 

Facebook, but they really have been doing an 

amazing job this session. From encouraging 

students to consider why their predictions are 

what they are to providing extra resources, 

PlantingScience mentors have been hard at 

work training the next generation of plant 


Great hypothesis - I especially like that you 

have a good reason for saying your hypothesis, 

which is important!  Hypotheses shouldn’t just 

be guesses, but based on what’s already known.  

And you used what you know about acid rain to 

make your hypothesis! (Nicole Soper Gorden, 

mentor extraordinaire)


Spring Session is Underway!

Our liaisons have been phenomenal as well 

keeping their teacher partners updated and 

helping them get their groups up and running. 

We have a few teachers who are new to the 

platform, so our liaisons have been doing an 

excellent job of keeping teachers, mentors, 

and students updated and on the same page. 

One thing that is clear this session is that 

liaisons and teachers now recognize mentors 

and are selecting the same mentors from 

previous session. Mentors and teachers alike 

are pleased!

My name is Liming and I am the liaison for 

this project. As the start date is approaching, I 

wonder if there’s anything I can help with, for 

example creating project teams? Otherwise 

if you can give me some information on the 

potential number of mentors needed, I can 

start to send out invitations. Look forward to 

this new semester! (Liming Cai, First-time 

PlantingScience Liaison)

All of the teachers who have participated 

previously on the current PlantingScience 

platform are enthusiastic and excited to be 

participating again. Many have posted in 

their forums something along the lines of 

“PlantingScience is one of the favorite projects 

for my students.” We hope that the session 

continues to run smoothly for our teachers, 

students, mentors, and liaisons.

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I am Sharon Harris, the Botany teacher of 7 

junior and senior young women who are curious 

about the world around them and anxious to 

start this project.  Two of the students worked 

on The Power of Sunlight module last year with 

me in AP Biology and when I told them we were 

doing this, they couldn’t stop telling the other 5 

what a cool thing this was going to be. (Sharon 

Harris, PlantingScience Teacher)

Seeds and plants are not my expertise - so I’m so 

happy to be working with you all! (now when we 

do our Plate Tectonics Unit, then I’m in my real 

wheelhouse!) Last year my students did some 

great projects and I can’t wait to get started this 

year. (Sara Melman, PlantingScience Teacher)

I am so excited to start this project with you 

all! Thank you for dedicating your time to 

mentor my students. (Phalguni Desai, NEW 

PlantingScience Teacher)

Finally, we are excited to be running a beta 

test of a new the plant pathology module, on 

which we worked with our APS partner to 

create a new module based on the paper from 

Hirsch et al. (2018) in The American Biology 



Hirsch, R. Louis, Miller, Seth, and Halterman, 

Dennis. “An Inquiry-Based Investigation of Bac-

terial Soft Rot of Potato.” The American Biology 

Teacher, Vol. 80, No. 8, pp. 594–599, ISSN 0002-

7685, electronic ISSN 1938-4211. DOI: https://

Early-Career Innovators in Herbarium-Enabled Research and  

Future-Proofing for the Next Waves of Inventiveness

Thursday, August 1, 2019 

7:30 am - 1:00 pm 

Starr Pass, Tucson

This Society of Herbarium Curators-organized event at, 


co-sponsored by iDigBio, will provide a venue for eight current and recent NSF Postdoctoral Fellows 

to present their herbarium-enabled research and provide fresh opinions on how collections can 

position themselves and the specimens and data that they curate to produce maximum research 

relevance in the next waves of innovation.  These eight participants will present on a range of 

collections-enabled research topics, including such topics as Plant Invasions, Plant Responses to 

Extreme Events, Sand-Entrapment by Plants, Plant Extinctions on Islands, Evolution of Floral 

Scent, Herbarium Genomics, Parasitic Plants, and Tropical Tree Diversity.  The 25-minute 

research talks will be interspersed with whole-group discussions of ideas raised by the speakers. 

Organized by: Austin Mast, Department of Biological Science, Florida State University 


and  Patrick Sweeny, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University 

Sign up for this symposia when you register for Botany 2019 at 

Cost:  $45.00 includes Lunch and Snacks 

A Special Post–Botany 2019 Symposium 

Sponsored by:

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By Chelsea Pretz and Min Ya 

BSA Student Representatives

It’s that time of the semester where you start to compile every opportunity you want to apply 

to into one list. To make this easier for you, we have compiled a list of all the opportunities we 

know about. 

On the following pages, we have four categories for easy browsing that include the following: 

Grants and Awards, Broader Impacts, Short Courses and Workshops, and Job Hunting.


Grants and awards can help fund your research, provide assistance for travel related to training, 

fieldwork, or conferences, and even contribute to your cost-of-living and tuition expenses (e.g., 

fellowships). Additionally, applying for grants and awards is a great opportunity to hash out a 

research plan as well as fine tune your writing skills by articulating said research plan. Lastly, 

don’t forget to check with your department and university to become familiar with internal 

grants that you can apply for!

Grants and Awards Offered by BSA

Supporting student research is one of the most important missions of our Botanical Society of 

America, and starting from this year, BSA increased the Graduate Student Research Awards 

from $500 to $1500! This increase will make many impossible possible, and there are 20 total 

awards in 2019. Make sure to check out the “Awards” section on and pay 

attention to the deadlines.

Roundup of Student Opportunities

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 



BSA Graduate Student Research Awards


Including the J. S. Karling Award

Amount: $1500

Deadline: Mar. 15

Purpose: Research funds

More info: 

BSA Undergraduate Student Research Awards

Amount: $200

Deadline: Mid-Mar.

Purpose: Research funds

More info: 

BSA Graduate Student Research Awards Given by Sections

Amount: $500

Deadline: Mid-Mar.

Purpose: Research funds

More info: 

You can also research out to your section leaders to ask about awards they are offering this year!


BSA Student Travel Awards 


Including TRIARCH “Botanical Images” Student Travel Award and Awards Given by Sections 


Amount: Variable

Deadline: Mar-Apr

Purpose: Travel to the 


More info:  

You can also research out to your section leaders to ask about awards they are offering this year!

Botany 2019 Travel Grants for Presenters from Developing Nations

Amount: $1000

Deadline: Mar. 15

Purpose: Travel to the 


More info:


Amount: Variable 

Deadline: Mar. 1

Purpose: Cover costs of travel, registration, food, and accommodation at the conference
More info: 

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PSB  65  (1)  2019        


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP)

Amount: $34k per year + tuition aid

Deadline: Oct. 

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
Purpose: Support outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported disciplines who are 

pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.
More info:

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Amount: Variable

Deadline: Oct.

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be citizens or nationals of the U.S. at the time of 

application; permanent residents are not eligible.
Purpose: Covers transportation and living expenses in host country. Tuition & school-related 

fees covered in some countries
More info: 

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Dissertation Fellowship

Amount: $20,000

Deadline: Nov. 1

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be a female U.S. citizen, national, or permanent 


Purpose: Dissertation Fellowships offset a scholar’s living expenses while she completes 

her dissertation. The fellowship must be used for the final year of writing the dissertation. 

Applicants must have completed all course work, passed all preliminary examinations, and 

received approval for their research proposals or plans by the preceding November.
More info:


NIH Postbac Intramural Research Training Award (POSTBAC IRTA/CRTA)

Amount: One year stipend ~$34k

Deadline: 6 months before intended start date

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be an U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
Purpose: Recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate or professional 

(medical/dental/pharmacy/nursing/veterinary, etc.) school an opportunity to spend one or 

two years performing full-time research at the NIH.
More info:




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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


CIC Smithsonian Institution Fellowship

Amount: $36k for one year

Deadline: Nov.

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Only students currently enrolled in one of the Big Ten 

Academic Alliance member universities are eligible.
Purpose: To support research in residence at Smithsonian Institution facilities. All fields of 

study that are actively pursued by the museums and research organizations of the Smithsonian 

Institution are eligible.
More info:

Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs

Amount: $24K-$45K, for 1-3 years

Deadline: Dec.

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: All U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. permanent 

residents (holders of a Permanent Resident Card), as well as individuals granted deferred 

action status under the DACA Program
Purpose: Three fellowship types are offered: Predoctoral, Dissertation, and Postdoctoral. The 

Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties.
More info:

SMART Program

Amount: $25K-$38K/year + tuition

Deadline: Dec.

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be an U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
Purpose: To increase the number of scientists and engineers in the DoD. The program is 

particularly interested in supporting individuals that demonstrate an aptitude and interest in 

conducting theoretical and applied research.

More info:

Torrey Botanical Society Fellowships and Awards

Amount: Up to $2500

Deadline: Jan. 15 

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be a member of the society
Purpose: To support research/education of student members by funding field work, 

recognizing research in conservation of local flora/ecosystems, or funding course 

attendance at a biological field station.
More info:

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PSB  65  (1)  2019        


Botany In Action Fellowship

Amount: Up to $5000

Deadline: Dec. 20

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Enrolled in a Ph.D. program at a U.S. graduate 

institution (U.S. citizenship is not required)

Purpose: To develop new, science-based plant knowledge and chronicles traditional 

knowledge of plants. BIA promotes interactive scientific education about the importance of 

plants, biodiversity, and sustainable landscapes.

More info:


The Lewis and Clark Fund for Field Research

Amount: Up to $5000

Deadline: Nov.

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: open to U.S. citizens and residents wishing to carry out 

research anywhere in the world. Foreign applicants must either be based at a U.S. institution 

or plan to carry out their work in the U.S.
Purpose: To encourage exploratory field studies for the collection of specimens and data as 

well as provide the imaginative stimulus that accompanies direct observation.
More info:


ASPT Graduate Student Research Grants

Amount: Up to $1000

Deadline: Feb. 28

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be a member of the society
Purpose: To support both master’s and doctoral students conducting field work, herbarium 

travel, and/or laboratory research in any area of plant systematics.
More info:

Richard Evans Schultes Research Award

Amount: Up to $2500

Deadline: Mar 30

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be a member of the society
Purpose: To help defray the costs of field work on a topic related to economic botany for 

students who are members of the Society for Economic Botany.
More info: php?module=content&type=user&func=view&pid=50

Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research

Amount: Up to $1000

Deadline: Mar 15; Oct. 1 

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Preference will be given to members of the society
Purpose: To encourage close working relationships between students and mentors, this 

program promotes scientific excellence and achievement through hands-on learning.
More info:

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The Exploration Fund Grant

Amount: Up to $2500

Deadline: mid-Nov.

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Grant does not apply to Chinese citizens
Purpose: To encourage research focused on systematics; also, projects of a more general or 

educational nature will also be considered, provided that they include a strong systematics 


More info:

Garden Club of America Scholarships

Amount: $2500-$8000

Deadline: Feb. 1 

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: U.S. Citizens and permanent residents who are enrolled 

in a U.S.-based institution.
Purpose: To encourage research focused on systematics; also, projects of a more general or 

educational nature will also be considered, provided that they include a strong systematics 


More info:

P.E.O. Scholar Award

Amount: Up to $15,000

Deadline: Dec.

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Must be a citizen or legal permanent resident of the U.S. 

or Canada
Purpose: To encourage research focused on systematics; also, projects of a more general or 

educational nature will also be considered, provided that they include a strong systematics 


More info:

Grants from the Wetland Foundation

Amount: Up to $1600

Deadline: Dec. 18 

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: Any student currently enrolled full-time at an academic 

institution in the U.S.
Purpose: To support wetland education and research
More info:

National Geographic Young Explorers Grants

Amount: Up to $5000

Deadline: 10 months before proposed work

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None

Purpose: Support research, conservation, and exploration-related projects consistent with 

National Geographic's existing grant programs. In addition, this program provides increased 

funding opportunities for field work in 18 Northeast and Southeast Asian countries.
More info:

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The Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund

Amount: Up to $25,000

Deadline: Feb.; June; Oct.

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: To support from conservationists based in all parts of the world dealing with plant 

and animal species.

More info:

Research Fellowships/Awards from the Arnold Arboretum

Amount: Up to $10,000

Deadline: Feb. 1

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: Multiple awards and/or fellowships are offered for undergraduate and graduate 

students with topics that focus on Asian tropical forest biology and comparative biology of 

woody plants.

More info:

The Councils of the Linnean Society and the Systematics Association:  

Systematics Research Fund

Amount: $1000-$1500

Deadline: Feb. 20

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: To encourage research focused on systematics; also, projects of a more general or 

educational nature will also be considered, provided that they include a strong systematics 

More info:

Awards from New England Botanical Club

Amount: $1000-$2000

Deadline: Mar 1 

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: To encourage botanical research in New England region.
More info:

SSB Mini-Arts Grant

Amount: Up to $4000 

Deadline: Nov. 15

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: This is to fund young researchers to spend a summer or semester apprenticed to an 

expert in a particular taxonomic group or to enhance revisionary taxonomic and systematics 

research in novel ways.

More info: 

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SSB Graduate Student Research Awards

Amount: $1000-$2000 

Deadline: Fall

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: Eligibility of this award to master’s students in the first 2 years of their studies and 

PhD students in the first 4 years for students to work on systematic questions below and 

above the species level, molecular and morphological approaches, and issues of pattern and 


More info: 

Evolutionary, Ecological, or Conservation Genomics (EECG) Research Award

Amount: $5000-$10,000

Deadline: Feb. 1

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: Priority for funding will be given to proposals that address genome-scale 

questions, or ecological, evolutionary, and conservation genetics questions that are best 

addressed using genomic approaches in a hypothesis-testing framework. 

Society for the Study of Evolution Grants  

Amount: $2000-$3500 

Deadline: Varies

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: This society has a range of grants that service students pursuing evolutionary research.   

More info:


Prairie Biotic Research Small Grants

Amount: $1500 

Deadline: Varies

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: Supports the study of any species in U.S. prairies and savannas.   

More info:

The Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund

Amount: up to $25,000

Deadline: Varies

Nationality/Affiliation requirement: None
Purpose: The Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund is a new and significant 

philanthropic endowment established to directly support the cause of species conservation. 

It is open to applications for funding support from conservationists based in all parts of the 

world dealing with plant and animal species. 

More info:

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These are not just for NSF grants! Sharing your passion for plants and science with a wide 

range of audiences will help develop speaking skills as well as help you reconnect with why 

you decided to go to grad school after all. 



What it is:


A learning community where scientists provide online mentorship 

to student teams as they design and think through their own inquiry 



What you can do: 


Interact with grade school-to-college students online, as they work on 

plant-focused learning modules in the classroom.


More info:

Science Olympiad


What it is:


Competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 

23 team events in each division (middle school or high school). Each 

year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing 

nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, 

mechanical engineering, and technology.


What you can do: 


Mentor local students in person on a variety of science- and engineering-

oriented topics and skills; help organize and run competitions

More info:

Local Arboretums, Parks, Museums, and Herbaria


What it is:


These institutions often depend on volunteers to donate their time and 

expertise to help people of all ages enjoy their collections and grounds. 

They may already have programs in place that allow you to lead tours 

or interact with visitors at special events so that you can share your 

interests and passion.

What you can do:  Lead tours; help organize and run events
More info: 

Look up local parks/arboretums/museums/herbaria online, or inquire 

at visitors’ centers.

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These are a great way to learn new research skills, which can also be added to your CV or 

resume. Here are a few of the many options available to grad students for part of a semester 

or summer.

Advanced Field Botany 

Location: University of Idaho

Duration: 2 weeks in June

Application deadline: Apr.

Cost: ~$2000

Intro: This course is open to upper division undergraduates and early career graduate 

students. From this course, you will gain valuable experience and botanical knowledge in the 

field. You’ll also get acquainted with the flora of Idaho in the Inland Northwest.
More info:

Summer Short Course at the Arnold Arboretum 

Location: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard 


Duration: June 5-12

Application deadline: Mar. 15 

Cost: free; also provides funding for travel

Intro: This short course will bring together a group of instructors to lead a broadly integrative 

analysis of the structure and function of leaves. Topics to be covered will include organogenesis 

and morphogenesis, evolutionary history of leaves, leaf anatomy, leaf traits, ecophysiology, 

physiology, hydraulics, stomatal functioning, and gas exchange. 
More info:

OTS Courses in Tropical Field Biology 

Location: Variable

Duration: Variable

Application deadline: Variable 

Cost: ~$5000

Intro: Courses through the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) are a well-renowned way 

to spend a summer or semester in the field, learning about the biology of tropical ecosystems 

in Costa Rica and South Africa. Course offerings include Field Ecology, Tropical Biology, 

Tropical Ecology and Conservation, Systematics of Tropical Plants, Tropical Ferns and 

More info:

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Functional Live Imaging of Plants 

Location: Nagoya, Japan

Duration: May 21-30

Application deadline: Feb. 10  

Cost: 500 EURO

Intro: The course will feature lectures along practical sessions and image analysis. Participants 

will rotate through five practicals, including nanosensors and imaging protein-proteins 

interactions at nanoscale, two-photon deep-tissue imaging and cell ablation, chemistry-

enabled and time-gated imaging, 5D imaging of development, microfluidic-enabled 

functional imaging.

More info: 


Molecular Evolution Workshop 

Location: Marine Biological Library at Wood’s Hole Duration: Aug 1-11  
Application deadline: Apr 12   

Cost: Participants can apply for financial aid

Intro: This 10-day course features a series of lectures, discussions, and bioinformatics exercises. 

Included are sessions on phylogenetic analyses, population genetics analyses, databases and 

sequence matching, molecular evolution, and comparative genomics.
More info:

Internship Opportunities


Interning is important to gain experience, help you figure out what type of research or field 

you want a career in, and network with those who are in it. This also doesn’t always have to 

be done in a volunteer format. There are many different paid internships to apply to for the 

summer, with many of the deadlines in December or early the folowing year. Many botanical 

gardens, arboretums, and museums offer internship opportunities during the summer, or 

even throughout the year, so make sure to check the job opportunities of their websites.


Research Experiences for 

Undergraduates (REU)


Botanical Society of America

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Master’s/PhD/Post-Doctoral Opportunities


These types of jobs are easily searchable on the “EvolDir” website under “PostDocs” and 

“GradStudentPositions”. Click the icon, and listings will pop up in a list from the newest 

to the oldest. This site shows positions from across the biological sciences, but it is a great 

option for plant evolutionary biologists. If you are interested in more of the ecology side of 

research, make sure to check out “ecolog.” Contact people from the university/college that 

you’re interested in to ask for more information.


Academic Teaching Positions


Check the BSA website, click on the “Careers/Jobs” tab, and you can select the “Post-doctoral, 

Fellowship, and Career Opportunities” link to see a current list of a variety of job postings. The 

BSA website is a great resource for one-stop shopping for careers and other opportunities in a 

variety of botanical sciences. Another good resource for finding jobs (including postdoctoral 

opportunities) can be found through AAAS, at the Science Careers site.
Botanical Society of America
AAAS Science Careers

Government Positions and Non-Academic Jobs


Searches for government jobs can begin at and A good 

resource for non-academic jobs is the Conservation Job Board; this site allows you to search 

within various fields by state and is updated regularly. Networking sites like LinkedIn and 

ResearchGate will help you connect with and organize your professional contacts—be sure 

to keep your profile pages updated and polished!
Government Positions

Conservation Job Board

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Use your University!


Many academic institutions have offices that focus on helping alumni succeed after 

graduation. Check with your department or institution for resources on job announcements, 

workshops focused on personal development (such as CV/resume writing or getting a 

teaching certificate), and networking opportunities.


Before you complete your degree, or if you are looking to switch jobs, it is important to consider 

your next step—whether it be finding a PI and lab to work in for continuing your education, 

finding a post-doctoral research opportunity, or finding a job that suits your goals and skills. 

Finding out about jobs often happens through personal contacts, but there are great online 

resources as well.








60 years ago: An article by Richard H. Goodwin introduces readers to the work of the Nature Conservancy, 

established under its current name in 1950. 

“How many of us have had the disquieting experience of discovering our favorite collecting spot or study area 

disappear overnight, as it were, leveled by the bulldozer, dried up by ditching, filled in by dredging, deforested, pol-

luted, vandalized, despoiled? 

“We can no longer assume that the countryside will remain ours, available and convenient for use in our teaching 

and research. The time has come when biologists must actively participate in a broad program aimed at preserving one 

of the basic tools of our trade—natural areas, in which biotic communities of all types may be studied and observed in 

the natural state. Not only should these areas include unique habitats for the protection of rare species, but they should 

also preserve wild spots located at reasonable distances from centers of population and educational institutions.”

-Goodwin, Richard H. “Vanishing Habitats and our Professional Responsibilities. The Program of the Nature 

Conservancy“ PSB 5(1): 5-6

50 years ago:  The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage was advertised. This year will see the 69th Pilgrimage April 23-

27, 2019.  

“The 19th Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage will be held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and surrounding territory April 

24-26, 1969. It is sponsored by the Botany Department of the University of Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains 

National Park, the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce, and the Gatlinburg Garden Club. Motorcades and trail hikes 

under expert leadership take you to areas where spring wildflowers grow in quantity and variety. Morning bird walks 

are a feature of each day’s activities. Special programs are arranged for photographers, and there is an opportunity to 

show one’s own slides.”

PSB 15(1): 9

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


During the junior year of our undergraduate 

career, we realized that there was not a single 

student organization that focused on botanical 

sciences, let alone plants. Over a year later, in 

Spring of 2018, we successfully established a 

Botanical Society of America student chapter 

at our university. Our efforts to implement this 

chapter were prolonged due to our university’s 

slow processing time for registered student 

organization (RSO) requests. 

Prior to our BSA chapter gaining official RSO 

status, we had the opportunity to participate 

in the planning and facilitating of University 

of Central Florida’s (UCF’s) first Plants 

Beyond Limits Symposium. Our involvement 

allowed us an opportunity to establish the 

organization in the plant science community, 

especially toward the UCF students who 

attended (Fig. 1). 

Once we established the chapter, we were 

able to host a handful of events in the span 

of one semester. Our first meeting was aimed 

at getting familiar with our new members, 

making sure that we were as inclusive as 

possible. The new members spanned a 

broad range of interests—from experienced 

graduate students studying ecophysiology to 

undergrads interested in sustainable farming. 

Our two subsequent meetings featured invited 

speakers, including Drs. Chase Mason and 

Jason Cavatorta, who discussed their career 

paths and current work. The combination 

of speakers provided both an academic 

perspective (Dr. Mason is a professor at UCF) 

and an industry perspective (Dr. Cavatorta 

runs EarthWork Seeds Inc.). We also hosted a 

graduate student panel with a diverse group of 

current graduate students for undergraduates 

to gain different perspectives on research and 

career prospects within the area. Finally, a 

Plant ID Arboretum walkthrough was hosted 

in combination with the UCF Arboretum. 

In addition to organized meetings, groups 

of members participated in local events 

including those hosted by the local University 

of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural 

Sciences (IFAS) branch. 

Out of the whole process, one of the most 

rewarding aspects of establishing the BSA 

chapter was to see so many new faces with 

similar interests. In such a large institution, 

it can be easy to blend in with the thousands 

of students even within a department. Seeing 

a community form for botanical enthusiasts 

in front of our eyes as our new members 

mingled at the first meeting made the time 

spent establishing this chapter well worth it. 

This year, three BSA chapter members were 

able to attend Botany 2018. In the future, the 

Establishing a BSA  

Student Chapter at Our University

By Michelle L. Gaynor (University of Florida),  

and Simone Lim-Hing (University of Georgia)

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


chapter hopes to raise funds through plant 

sales to help financially support attendance to 

the BSA annual meetings as well as provide 

small research grants. Although we both are 

now pursuing botany at new universities, we 

hope that this chapter will build a stronger 

and more diverse botanical community at 

UCF (Fig. 2). 

Figure 2. The UCF Chapter’s BSA logo.

Figure 1. Students at the Plants Beyond Limits Symposium, 2017. 

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Land Bridges ................................................................................................................................................................. 55


Twilight of the Hemlocks and Beeches ........................................................................................................ 57

Economic Botany

Monsters Under Glass: A Cultural History of Hothouse Flowers from  

    1850 to the Present ............................................................................................................................................. 58

Care of the Species: Races of Corn and the Science of Plant Biodiversity .......................... 60

Food Crop Production by Smallholder Farmers in Southern Africa: Challenges  

   and Opportunities for Improvement ............................................................................................................ 61

The Ethnobotany of Eden: Rethinking the Jungle Medicine Narrative ........................................ 63

Korean Functional Foods: Composition, Processing and Health Benefits .............................. 64


Aquatic Dicotyledons of North America: Ecology, Life History, and Systematics ................. 66 

The Book of Seeds: A Life-size Guide to Six Hundred Species from  

   Around the World ................................................................................................................................................... 67


Land Bridges

Alan Graham

2018, ISBN-13 9780226544298

Paperback, $50.00; cloth, 

$150.00; 288 pp.

University of Chicago Press, 

Chicago, IL


This year, Dr. Alan Graham 

published his fourth book 

on the vegetative history of the new world, 

this time focused on the physical connections 

that allowed for the migration of plants, 

animals, and ultimately humans between 

continents. Graham, Curator of Paleobotany 

and Palynology at the Missouri Botanical 

Garden, has spent most of his career studying 

neotropical angiosperm species through the 

Cretaceous and Cenozoic, and his expertise 

on the subject is evident from the mere 

breadth of information provided in this new 

treatise on biogeography. 
Land Bridges, clocking in at nearly 300 

pages, is concise but dense, with an array 

of descriptions, figures, and a hefty online 

appendix. While the various lists don’t 

quite make for easy fireside reading, they 

do underscore the utility of the book as a 

compendium for further furtive research on 

the part of the reader. In the preface, Graham 

notes that in a review for his previous book, A 

Natural History of the New World, the writer 

stated, “I found the numerous historical asides 

and personal anecdotes distracting (although 

to be fair I should acknowledge here that my 

graduate students had the reverse reaction 

and really enjoyed these parts).” The number 

of anecdotes and stories were thus “…reduced 

in the present text.” As a graduate student 

myself, I offer the reverse critique (my only 

one for the book). The few stories that Graham 

does include are well-placed and told, such as 

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


the expeditions of Vitus Bering (for whom 

the first land bridge discussed in the book 

was given its namesake) and the death of 

Alfred Wegener in Greenland (part of the 

North Atlantic Land Bridge). As someone 

who enjoys the storytelling aspect of science 

communication, I keenly felt the lack of other 

such stories and wish there’d been more. 
For anyone considering purchasing this book, 

I offer the following barebones summary and 

description. According to Graham, the purpose 

of his previous three books was to outline the 

vegetation history and climate regimes of 

new world plants through time, whereas this 

book specifically tackles the subject of plant 

migrations across land bridges, starting with 

the advent of angiosperms in the Cretaceous. 

He recognizes five such land bridges, each the 

subject of its own chapter (with the exception 

of Berengia, which has two chapters): the 

Bering Land Bridge, the North Atlantic Land 

Bridge, the Antillean Land Bridge, the Central 

American Land Bridge, and the Magellan 

Land Bridge. 

Each chapter is broadly organized into sections 

that deal with the physical description of each 

geographic area along with the associated 

climates, the historical geology with a special 

focus on how and when each land bridge 

formed and (in the case of some) eventually 

sank or broke apart, the modern vegetation, 

utilization of the land bridge by plants (a few 

animals get honorable mentions), and a final 

section on how humans used the land bridges, 

if at all. While Graham discusses fossil plants 

and their distributions throughout the text, 

he includes a chapter toward the end on a 

few case studies as an added bonus. Here, 

the biogeographic history of several families and 

genera (mostly angiosperms) is discussed at length.

Anyone who studies plant biogeography 

should have a copy of this book. The condensed 

and aptly summarized 100-million-year 

geological history, the descriptions of current 

day climates and ecosystems, the history of 

floral migrations, and most valuable to the 

researcher, a voluminous list of citations and 

recommended reading make this an invaluable 

tome for future research and investigation. 

Graham puts it best in the book’s conclusion:

“It is a long way from the Arctic to the Antarctic, 

and 100 Ma is a long time allowing for the 

probable and the improbable to occur. During 

this interval the Atlantic Ocean opened, 

separating the New World from Africa and 

Europe; mean annual temperatures varied by 

3°–5°C in the tropics to 8°–15°C toward the 

poles; the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, 

and Andes Mountains rose; North America 

was joined by South America via the isthmus 

of Panama; the Gulf Stream strengthened, 

bringing greater heat to the North Atlantic; 

palms grew within the Arctic Circle; the 

Amazon River reversed its course from the 

Pacific to the Atlantic; South America and 

Antarctica separated with formation of the 

Magellan Strait, the Drake Passage, and the 

Antarctic Circum-Current; glaciers formed, 

plants disappeared, oceans cooled, and the cold 

Humboldt Current flowing northward added 

to the dryness developing along the west coast 

of South America; sea levels rose and fell by 

150 m, alternately inundating then exposing 

coastlines and continental interiors; humans 

crossed Beringia for the first time, moving 

from Asia into North America; plants evolved 

new ecological tolerances and pollination, 

dispersal, and defense mechanisms; CO2 

concentration varied from more than 1000 

ppmv (or perhaps capped at 1000 ppmv…) to 

less than 200 ppmv; and during all this time 

land bridges were modifying atmospheric and 

ocean circulation patterns and periodically 

joining the New World to and separating it 

from regions and biotas immediately adjacent 

and far beyond.”

-Jerald B. Pinson, Department of Biology, 

University of Florida, Box 118525, Gainesville, 

FL 32611 USA

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Twilight of the Hemlocks 

and Beeches. 

Tim Palmer

2018. ISBN 9780271079530

Hardcover, $34.95; 171 pp. 

Pennsylvania State University 

Press, University Park, PA

It is very difficult to approach 

writing about Twilight of 

the Hemlocks and Beeches, because pondering 

this topic is overwhelmingly sorrowful. The 

book’s author and photographer, Tim Palmer, 

is a visual and verbal storyteller whose craft 

(this is his 27th book about the environment 

and adventurous travel) changes readers’ 

understanding of the world. Here, he portrays 

two calamitous events. The approaching end 

to Eastern hemlock, a foundation species of 

pristine North American forests, is under 

threat now by the exotic invasive woolly 

adelgid, Adelges tsugae. Beech trees are 

likewise afflicted. Their disease occurs after 

extensive bark invasion by the beech scale 

insect, Cryptococcus fagisuga. Excessive 

feeding introduces two fungal species of 

Neonectria to produce annual cankers on the 

bark of the tree. The continuous formation of 

lesions around the tree eventually girdles it, 

resulting in canopy death.

The book’s success in delivering his message 

is the result of splendid photographs used as 

a persuasive tool to deliver the conservation 

lesson, conferring urgency to his work. As an 

artist and photojournalist, he evokes sympathy 

for the societal and spiritual as well as the 

economic value of the trees he images. Palmer 

makes superb use of photography’s potential 

for combining poetry with phenomenological 

accuracy to communicate the quality of place.

The author’s introduction conveys the essence 

and feeling of the forest, using photography’s 

potential for transmitting the symbolic 

and experiential qualities of environmental 

elegance; it “calls up a sense of reverence. In 

the trees’ scented atmosphere, life is serene, 

soothing, protected.” Combining poetry with 

phenomenological accuracy, Palmer helps us 

understand the relationship of hemlocks in 

our environment: “My footsteps are muffled 

by the softness of the needle-filled mattress 

underfoot, giving extra spring to my stride.” 

He also states, “I can imagine the earth before 

we humans were born, a land governed by 

itself in wildness beyond anything we now 

know. Primeval.” 

This study reveals Palmer’s unwavering 

attachment to the topography and psychology 

of landscape: his cherishing of unspoiled 

lands. His photographs are tools punctuating 

his remarks and attesting to the authenticity 

of his perception. They augment the ability 

of the written word to explain multiple layers 

of cause, effect, and significance using the 

evocative power of photographs to foster 

empathy and appreciation.

Involving our emotions as well as our intellect, 

Palmer’s unretouched 105 documentary 

photographs force us to care about what has 

been presented and potentially to act to prevent 

their predicted demise, as he urges in the final 

chapter (“Confronting Loss and Welcoming 

Renewal’) by dual means: biological control 

agents and chemical retardation. This volume 

is a compelling visual testament by a talented 

photographer that will appeal to many outdoor 

enthusiasts, natural historians, ecologists, and 

lovers of nature. Palmer’s photographs inform 

us; they also touch our souls.

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 



Monsters Under Glass: 

A Cultural History of 

Hothouse Flowers from 

1850 to the Present

Jane Desmarais 

2018. ISBN-13: 


Hardback, £25.00; 248 pp.

Reaktion Books, London

“Monsters Under Glass” 

by Jane Desmarais is a “cultural” history 

reference book that covers the history of how 

the fascination of exotics and tropical plants 

became prevalent in many classic novels, 

poems, and artwork. “Monsters Under Glass” 

covers not only the historical fascination, but 

also the rise of horticulture, horticultural 

cultivation techniques, glass innovations, and 

heating technologies. “Monsters Under Glass” 

refers to the greenhouse as a “hothouse”—

hence, the historical background within 

the book on the rise of glass innovation and 

heating technologies as it plays a major role in 

the rise of exotic flower fascination. Since the 

cultivation of exotics outside the native region 

requires specialized care, specifically, they are 

best grown in a controlled environment that a 

greenhouse can provide; exotics are otherwise 

described as “hothouse flowers.”  
Dating back to the early nineteenth century, 

the fascination with the hothouse and 

hothouse flower stimulated the imagination of 

artists, novelists, poets, and citizens of the era. 

Over about a 100-year span (1750 to 1850), 

approximately 5000 or more species of exotic 

plants were moved into England.  A growing 

appeal with exotic plants and the gardening 

scene was first established and explored 

by the wealthy-class citizens. Affordable 

literature started to be published and public 

hothouses and botanical gardens expanded 

in cities across Europe, allowing middle-class 

citizens to allure over the hothouse flowers. 

The expansion caused innovations in glass, 

in order to improve natural light inside 

hothouses, and new heating technologies 

permitted more even heating than the classic 

wooden stove previously provided. Over time, 

the rapid development of glass innovations 

in order to improve horticulture techniques 

moved away from being of avail to the wealthy 

class. Although glass innovations were 

moving at a significant rate, not everyone was 

fond of this swift advancement. In fact, some 

saw the glass innovations as only a modern 

fad and unrefined; Edgar Allen Poe, a classic 

American writer, stated that, “In the matter 

of glass, generally, we proceeded upon false 

principles. It’s leading feature is glitter….

unmeaning glass chandeliers, prism-cut, gas-

lighted, and without shade, which dangle in 

our most fashionable drawing room, may be 

cited as the quintessence of all that is false in 

taste or preposterous in folly.”

From approximately 1850, increasing 

references throughout artwork, poems, 

and novels showed the captivation with 

the hothouse flowers. The hothouse and 

hothouse flower became powerful metaphors 

throughout novelists’, poets’, and artists’ 

work that widely varied in interpretations.  

Joel-Peter Witkins, a boundary-crossing 

photographer who idealized nature, expressed 

nature in the terms of beauty, sexuality, and 

decay. Witkins claimed that he wanted to “live 

in an age which sees similar beauty in a flower 

and in the severed limb of a human being.” 

Comparatively, H.G. Wells in his book “War of 

the Worlds” used red weed to metaphorically 

describe the dangers of colonialization. The 

metaphorical aspect in “Monsters Under 

Glass” shows how modern society draws on 

the fascination of the nineteenth century and 

hothouses, with coined terms like “intellectual 

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hothouses.” Beyond the metaphorical aspect, 

modern culture is just as fascinated with 

hothouse flower growth as in the nineteenth 

century. There is something gripping about the 

phenomena of containing wild nature under 

glass and the convergences of modern people 

to the blooming of the giant Amorphophallus 

titanium, better known as the corpse flower. 

The corpse flower rarely blooms and admits a 

stench that has been described as something 

reminiscent on rotting flesh and/or excrement. 

Despite the foul stench, large crowds gather to 

watch this exotic bloom.

Many other modern culture aspects are rooted 

deeply in this crazed nineteenth century 

culture of corsages and perfumes. The wearing 

of flowers (i.e., corsages) dates to the ancient 

Persian era, but the nineteenth century led 

to the exotic flower-wearing on the dandy 

male figure. The wearing of flowers, better 

described as a “flower fetish,” was a status 

symbol of wealth, individualism, admiration, 

and even homosexuality; carnations, violets, 

gardenias, poppies, and orchids were favored 

for flower-wearing. This “flower fetish” was 

not only in relation to the wearing of flowers, 

but also to the fixation with the fragrance 

produced by flowers, which similarly dates 

to the ancient Persian era. Throughout the 

centuries, perfume was used to combat fatal 

epidemic diseases such as the bubonic plague. 

The inhalation of odors was believed to offer 

protection against fatal epidemic disease, 

and physicians would disinfect the homes of 

the dead with strong scents and balms. The 

odors ranged from mint, cedar apple, violet, 

and roses. The nineteenth century was when 

the perfume industry changed dramatically, 

turning perfume into a luxury product that 

presented one’s social standing and character. 

The virtuous, wealthy, and women of good 

taste wore scents that were floral and dainty, 

as opposed to the courtesans and prostitutes 

who wore scents that like jasmine (“musk 

like”), which hinted toward lust and earthy 


The association between social status and the 

fragrance worn by a woman is part of the long 

history of women symbolized by gardens and 

flowers throughout the centuries, which has 

appeared in classic artwork for interpretation 

amongst art viewers. Symbolisms can be a 

representation of a woman’s fertility, purity, 

innocence, devotion, sexuality, and natural 

beauty. Numerous types of flowers are within 

classic artwork, but the most commonly used 

over centuries is the rose and lily. The rose 

is a signifier of women in multiple different 

traditions, ranging from the standard symbol 

of femininity to sensual sexuality. The lily, by 

contrast, is represented as highly erotic and 

the profligate behavior in women. The rose 

and lily are representative of the sexuality 

of women throughout the centuries, yet the 

sexual connotations between these flowers is 

highly variably.

“Monsters Under Glass” compartmentalizes 

a long history into a short 217 pages while 

captivating the readers interest throughout 

its entirety. The author is a Senior Lecturer at 

the University of London. “Monsters Under 

Glass” is organized into 8 chapters, including 

36 illustrations, 16 pages of references, and 6 

pages of select bibliography.

--Erin Downey, University of South Florida

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Care of the Species: 

Races of Corn and the 

Science of Plant Biodi-


John Hartigan, Jr. 

2017.  ISBN 978-0816685356

Paperback, $20.00; cloth, 

$108.00. 376 pp. 

University of Minnesota Press, 

Minneapolis, MN

The title of this book, taken on its own, might 

lead one to think that it is written by a biologist 

and that it will give a scientific review of the 

rich history of research on corn biodiversity. 

This would be an erroneous assumption, as 

this particular book explores the science of 

biodiversity from a very different perspective: 

that of cultural anthropology.  Hartigan uses 

the tools of ethnography to examine ideas of 

race across species, the care of humans for 

nonhuman beings, and how our ideas about 

plants and diversity informs the way we think 

about conservation.  
It seems that Hartigan began this work with 

the intent of doing an ethnography of the 

scientists working on corn biodiversity, in 

labs, botanical gardens, and seed banks. There 

is a rich body of work in cultural anthropology 

about scientists and the work of science, and 

the author has added to it with his work here. 

But somewhere along the path of the study, 

his focus shifted, and he ends up applying 

the tools and techniques of ethnography to 

the plants themselves, rather than the people 

studying the plants. In doing so, he raises 

some fascinating questions and asks us to look 

at plants differently even from how botanists 

may see them.  

Throughout this book, Hartigan “follows 

the species” of corn as he visits laboratories, 

seed banks, and botanical gardens in Mexico 

and Spain where plant diversity is being 

studied and/or preserved, interviewing the 

scientists who work with the plants and 

trying to understand how they view diversity 

and species, how they study them, and 

how they relate to them and care for them. 

Hartigan begins this book with accounts of 

visits to laboratories where corn genetics 

and breeding is being studied in Mexico. He 

explores conceptual questions such as: what is 

a species? What is a “race” in corn? Are these 

human constructions? What is the use or 

value of these kinds of classifications? He also 

considers anthropocentrism and how it affects 

the ways these scientists think about and 

interact with their subjects. In discussing the 

concept of race as applied to plants, and how/

why this diversity has been preserved (or not), 

he explores how the idea of racial identity as 

applied to humans and corn is intertwined in 

Mexico, and the problems with as well as uses 

of racial thinking.  

The second half of the book moves to Spain 

where the author visits botanical gardens in 

Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia. This section 

looks more broadly at how botanists think 

about and relate to plants, and how gardens 

make this accessible to the public. He talks 

with the botanists there about the process of 

classifying plants and how this affects their way 

of seeing and paying attention to plants. He 

explores broad questions such as: why do we 

care about plants and their diversity? How do 

we care for them or preserve that biodiversity? 

How do people (other than botanists) interact 

with botanical knowledge? For example, he 

describes the markers naming and classifying 

the plants in the gardens; the Spanish word 

for these markers is “etiquetas,” emphasizing 

the fact that these markers introduce visitors 

to the plants, just as our interhuman etiquette 

includes introducing each other in social 


The final chapter of the book, “How to 

Interview a Plant,” outlines exactly how 

Hartigan approaches an ethnographic study 

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of a non-human species, going through 

step-by-step how one might “interview a 

plant.” His approach brings to mind the great 

botanist, P. Barry Tomlinson, who would 

often answer students’ questions about plants 

with the command, “Ask the plant!” In doing 

so, he directed our inquiry away from other 

scientists (who could be biased or flawed or, 

at the very least, restricted in their views of 

how plants work) and toward the organism 

in question, looking for answers directly from 

its biology. Hartigan approaches interviewing 

a plant systematically in the same way he 

would approach studying a particular human 

cultural group, and asks himself and other 

anthropologists as well as botanists: how 

do I observe, describe, ask questions of a 

plant?  How do I apply the theoretical models 

of cultural anthropology to a completely 

different species? Essentially, this final chapter 

describes the methodology that Hartigan 

used in his studies of plants, developed after 

immersing himself in the world and thinking 

of botanists.  

I am quite certain that, not being an 

anthropologist, I have missed much of the 

anthropological depth of this work, and I 

can’t even pretend to share that richness with 

you here. Instead, I offer the perspective of 

a botanist looking back upon the work of an 

anthropologist who studied botanists. I find 

the perspective refreshing and fascinating, 

even without the depth of context that an 

anthropologist would bring to the reading. 

Hartigan says in his introduction, “I hope the 

reader will find on these pages a variety of entry 

points for understanding plants and learning 

to recognize them in the world around us.” I 

think that he does this pretty well for those 

who are not botanists, combatting just a 

little the plant blindness we find so rampant 

among our own species. For botanists, on 

the other hand, he provides us with both an 

anthropological view of our own kind as well 

as a glimpse of how those outside our field 

may receive our understanding of plants and 

way of seeing them.  

-Amy E. Boyd

Food Crop Production 

by Smallholder Farmers 

in Southern Africa: Chal-

lenges and Opportuni-

ties for Improvement

Ambayeba Muimba-Kankol-


2018. ISBN 978-0-12-814383-4

Paperback, $200.00. 368 pp. 

Academic Press, Cambridge, 

MA, San Diego, CA 

Muimba-Kankolongo, whose career spans 30 

years assisting small-scale farmers in central 

and southern Africa, received his M.S. and 

PhD degrees from Cornell University and has 

been a contract instructor in the department 

of biology and biochemistry at Carleton 

University, Ottowa, Canada, and senior 

lecturer in the department of environmental 

and plant science, School of Natural Resources 

at the Copperbelt University, Kitwe, Zambia. 

His new textbook aims to fill a need for 

smallholder farmers in southern Africa. The 

volume opens with a sympathetic dedication 

to his mother who, he reports, was unhappy 

when he cleaned his plate, suggesting that he 

hadn’t had enough to eat.
Following the author’s introduction, topics 

covered include (1) Climates and agro-

ecologies of the regional economic Southern 

African Development Community (SADC), 

that region comprising Angola, Botswana, 

DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, 

Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and 

Zimbabwe; (2) Factors important to crop 

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describes improved agricultural production 

technologies for ensuring adequate food 

Although all photographs are not credited, 

numerous topical illustrations and a map 

enrich the textbook considerably. Tables taken 

from the U.S. Department of Agriculture 

provide nutritional values, per 100 g raw 

material of select local vegetables, including 

cabbage and okra. The contents are broad 

(i.e., include useful information, even about 

crop origins and geographical distribution); 

therefore, it should provide answers to most 

basic student questions. 
The foreword by Dr. S. Nteranya, Director 

General, IITA, notes that this textbook was 

inspired by lack of such a resource for the 

Southern African region and includes the 

expressed hope that the information will be 

helpful to growers, research and extension 

services, and students and professionals in 

institutions of higher learning. He writes 

that while agriculture is at the core of local 

life, agricultural productivity for subsistence 

farmers has always been very low because of 

recurrent droughts, use of traditional farming 

systems, and outbreaks of pests and diseases. 

The book closes with a 14-page bibliography, 

a 4-page glossary, and a 15-page index. Its cost 

might be prohibitive, in terms of accessibility 

for student-farmers, hence it may be better 

described as a useful reference work.

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 


production; (3) Crop diseases and pests; (4) 

Smallholding farms; (5) Common cultivation 

practices; (6) Pre- and postharvest field 

operations; (7) Cereal production; (8) Root 

and tuber crops; (9) Leguminous crops (beans, 

groundnuts, Bambara groundnuts); (10) 

Vegetable production (cabbage, okra, onion, 

pepper, pumpkins, rape, tomato); (11) Fruit 

production (banana, pineapple, sugarcane); 

and (12) Perspectives for improvement 

(seed quality, irrigation, storage structures, 

improving extension services).
Food Crop Production evaluates traditional 

cultivation practices used by smallholder 

farmers, adding the latest information on 

increasing crop yield through adoption of 

innovative techniques. It catalogs smallholder 

cultivation practices and recommends 

strategies for improvement, including 

management practices that reduce net carbon 

emissions and technologies that improve soil 

structures and conserve natural resources. 

Some attention is given to empowering 

women’s contributions along value chains and 

urging government commitment to adopt 

policies that enhance agriculture productivity 

by encouraging farmers to use environmentally 

sound cultivation technologies. 
Muimba-Kankolongo’s specialty in plant 

pathology is pervasive throughout the 

textbook, in consideration of traditional 

farming techniques that have often produced 

negative impacts on the environment, 

resulting in crop vulnerability. Pests and 

diseases, weeds, and invasive plant species 

put populations at risk of poverty, hunger, 

and malnutrition. Food Crop Production 

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The Ethnobotany of 

Eden: Rethinking the 

Jungle Medicine Narra-


Robert A. Voeks 

2018. ISBN: 9780226547718

Harcover, $45.00. 328 pp.

eBook ISBN: 9780226547855, 


University of Chicago Press, 

Chicago, IL.

Robert Voeks, professor in Geography 

and the Environment at California State 

University, Fullerton, and the editor of the 

journal Economic Botany, reverses some 

romanticized notions about the profitable 

healing plant resources of tropical rainforests 

as “pharmaceutical factories.” Instead, Voeks 

shows that the medicinal Eden manifests 

its apothecary via a range of ruderal weeds, 

dominated numerically by disturbance, 

and pays homage to those folks whose 

experimentation led to their discoveries as 

nutrients and medicines.
Voeks’ analysis of tropical landscapes 

exemplifies the diverse topics to be found 

underneath the umbrella of the intersections 

amongst anthropology, botany, history, 

art, religion, and geography that form the 

discipline called ethnobotany. His descriptions 

are suspenseful, completely engrossing, to the 

degree that I had difficulty putting the book 

down. An example is his depiction of a secret 

stash of prized coffee seeds that was presented 

in a bouquet of flowers by the love-struck 

wife of a governor of French Guiana, Madam 

d’Orvilliers, to Brazilian sergeant Melo Palheta 

upon his departure. Those beans whisked off 

to Brazil were likely to have been the beans 

that led to Brazil’s eventual global dominance 

in coffee production, resulting in one of the 

world’s first examples of biopiracy.
Voeks’ own fieldwork in the tropics of Borneo, 

Brazil, and Mozambique provide firsthand 

experience to tackle complex concerns 

such as the contentious issue of intellectual 

property, complicated by geography and 

time, writing that “intellectual ownership of 

botanical nature assumes many guises” (p. 

116). As Voeks traces the colonial-era search 

for medicinal plants, he busts, repeatedly, the 

clichéd myth of the noble savage. Voeks views 

plant species that maintain more than one 

material value (e.g., as fiber and medicine or 

fiber and food) as rare.

Voeks’ lively writing style deserves praise too; 

notably, he can translate a biological process 

having a formidable designation, into language 

anyone can visualize. One example is this 

vivid description of cryptogeal germination 

using the “saxophone growth” metaphor: 

“Like many other palm species, piassava 

has the habit of sprouting immediately 

and abundantly after a fire. This is due to 

an unusual germination pattern, known as 

saxophone growth (cryptogeal germination), 

in which the terminal bud of the seedling 

initially burrows down into the soil, rather 

than reaching towards the sky. At about 20 

cm in depth, it reverses course and pushes its 

leaves above ground. As a consequence, if the 

forest is cut and burned, the heart of the palm 

(apical meristem) is protected under the soil 

from the flames, allowing it to resprout a short 

while later. This feature is key to understanding 

how the species has been managed to the 

present day. When the density of the palm 

in an area is low, small patches of rainforest 

are cleared, sparing only adult piassava. The 

slash is allowed to dry, and then it’s burned. 

Within a few weeks, a near carpet of piassava 

seedlings emerge, having survived the heat of 

the flames safely ensconced below the surface. 

[.…] Saxophone germination in palms now 

often points to deforestation and irrational 

exploitation, with isolated and unreproductive 

palms in pastures and farm clearings marking 

“virtually dead” populations” (p. 40).

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Scrupulous scholarship is in evidence, with 

42 pages of references, 5 pages of notes, and 

the 18-page index, as well as the carefully 

credited variety of maps, digital photos, and 

illustrations. I observed only one spelling 

error, “recurring them[e] in ethnobotany” (p. 

133). Ethnobotany of Eden is a benchmark 

contribution, with appeal to a wide audience of 

scholars and general readers holding interests 

in botany, conservation, tropical biology, 

economic geography, and environmental 


–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri

Korean Functional Foods: 

Composition, Processing 

and Health Benefits

Kun-Young Park, Dae Young 

Kwon, Ki Won Lee, and Sunmin 

Park, Eds. 


Hardcover, ISBN 

9781498799652, $229.95. 564 


eBook, ISBN 9781315156453, $206.96

CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Food is one key element of culture that presents 

opportunities for dissemination of cultural 

information. A recent title in the CRC Press 

series, Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, 

features the health benefits and processing 

methods of Korea’s major fermented foods 

such as kimchi, soybean paste, and red pepper 

paste, consumed with the traditional Korean 

dish, bibimbap. Korean Functional Foods 

serves as an essential scholarly resource, 

introducing readers to Korean culinary 

history since antiquity, including a focus on 

early myths.

The first chapters offer reviews of Korean food 

history, culture, and characteristics. Koreans 

have created unique preparations as well as 

a food culture that is fundamentally distinct 

from Chinese or Japanese. Among their 

basic ingredients is bap, warm cooked rice, 

topped with small amounts of condiments 

(fermented side dishes and raw or broth-

cooked vegetables and mushrooms), creating 

the colorful dish called bibimbap. The 

combination of vegetables, rice, fermented 

sauces and optional animal protein provides a 

balance of nutrients, rich in fiber. The primary 

cooking oils are from sesame, for its distinctive 

nutty aroma, and perilla.

Quintessential among Korean staple 

fermented foods is kimchi, a lactic acid 

bacteria fermented vegetable mixture. 

Although dozens of variations exist, the key 

ingredients of kimchi are Napa cabbage and 

radish, spiced with ground red pepper, garlic, 

ginger, and green onion, added to improve 

flavor, nutrition, and functionality. Kimchi 

decreases the pH of the colon environment, 

helping to maintain good colon health. Used 

for centuries as folk medicine, the investigated 

benefits of kimchi include antioxidant and 

antiaging, antimicrobial, antimutagenic and 

anticancer, anti-inflammatory alleviation of 

atopic dermatitis-like symptoms, anti-obesity, 

and cholesterol- and lipid-lowering effects.

This volume contributes to a rapidly growing 

body of literature covering the role of 

plant secondary metabolites in food and 

their potential effects on human health. 

Consumers, increasingly aware of diet-related 

health problems, seek natural ingredients 

that are safe, health-promoting nutraceutical 

components, including dietary fibers, 

phenolics, antioxidants, antimicrobials, and 

bioactive compounds. The healing properties 

of ginseng, vinegars, and spices including red 

pepper, ginger, garlic, black pepper, mustard, 

and sesame are evaluated herein.

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PSB  65  (1)  2019        


The editors provided a valuable service by 

assembling an extensive literature that will 


researchers with interests in public health, 

preventive medicine, dietetics, and nutrition. 

As is often the case with edited works, 

contributions are uneven, and there is a 

little duplication among chapters. Various 

assertions are outmoded; for example, 

although the axiom “Let food be thy medicine 

and medicine be thy food” is often attributed 

to Hippocrates as it is here, scholars no longer 

credit him. It seems that several chapters were 

written awhile before publication, because 

some information is not current; specific data 

are misleading (e.g., world crop production 

figures rely on a reference from 2005, rather 

than statistics that are updated annually). 

Many of the citations quoted in each chapter 

appear to be sourced from Korean, Japanese, 

and other Asian authors; therefore, relevant 

literature by other scientists might have been 

missed. In that spirit, it seems useful to correct 

the peculiar opening sentence of chapter 12 

about sesame, positing that “sesame originated 

in Africa (or some species from India)”. 

Genetic, phytochemical, and molecular 

data amassed during four decades provide 

ample evidence that the crop species sesame 

(Sesamum indicum L.) was domesticated on 

the Indian subcontinent (Bedigian 1984, 2000, 

2003, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015; Bedigian et al., 

1985; Gormley et al., 2015).  

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 



Bedigian, D. 1984. Sesamum indicum L. Crop ori-

gin, diversity, chemistry and ethnobotany.  Ph.D. 

dissertation, University of Illinois, Urbana-Cham-

paign.  University Microfilms DA8502071, Dis-

sertation Abstracts International 45, 1985: 3410-


Bedigian, D.  2000. Sesame. In K.F. Kiple and 

C.K. Ornelas-Kiple, Eds. The Cambridge World 

History of Food, Vol. I, pp. 411-421. Cambridge 

University Press, NY.

Bedigian, D. 2003. Evolution of sesame revisited: 

domestication, diversity and prospects.  Genetic 

Resources and Crop Evolution 50: 779-787. 

Bedigian, D. 2011 [2010]. Cultivated sesame, 

and wild relatives in the genus Sesamum L. Pag-

es 33-77. In D. Bedigian, Ed. Sesame: the genus 

Sesamum. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants - Indus-

trial Profiles series. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis 

Group, Boca Raton, FL. 

Bedigian, D. 2014. A new combination for the In-

dian progenitor of sesame, Sesamum indicum L. 

(Pedaliaceae). Novon 23: 5-13.

Bedigian, D. 2015. Systematics and evolution in 

Sesamum L. (Pedaliaceae), part 1: Evidence re-

garding the origin of sesame and its closest rela-

tives.  Webbia: Journal of Plant Taxonomy and 

Geography 70: 1-42. 

Bedigian, D., D. S. Seigler, and J. R. Harlan. 1985. 

Sesamin, sesamolin and the origin of sesame.  Bio-

chemical Systematics and Ecology 13: 133-139.

Gormley, I. C., D. Bedigian, and R. G. Olmstead. 

2015. Phylogeny of Pedaliaceae and Martyni-

aceae and the placement of Trapella in Plantagina-

ceae. Systematic Botany 40: 259-268.

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PSB  65  (1)  2019        



Aquatic Dicotyledons of 

North America: Ecology, 

Life History, and System-


Donald H. Les

2018. 978-1482225020

Hardcover: $221.00 US; 1334 


CRC Press (Taylor & Francis), 

Boca Raton, USA.  

Because of their high productivity and 

essential role in filtering the ecosystem’s 

water supply, wetlands are a central focus of 

ecological research and conservation efforts.  

To varying degrees, the plant components 

of their diverse communities are adapted 

to aquatic conditions, with submerged, 

emergent, free-floating, or suspended life 

forms found among fully aquatic species, 

while many other less specialized wetland taxa 

range widely in their tolerance of inundated 

conditions.  Focusing on dicotyledonous 

plants considered obligatorily aquatic (i.e., 

requiring water to complete some essential 

stage of their life history), this authoritative 

book offers an encyclopedic compendium of 

their essential characteristics, ecology, and 

biosystematic position. It is not a guide for 

identification; there are no keys, photographs, 

or figures besides cladograms.  Once the 

plants in question are identified, however, this 

work will serve as an essential reference on 

their backgrounds, distribution, community 

associations, phylogeny, and uses.
The book is organized taxonomically, 

using a recent Angiosperm Phylogeny 

Group classification scheme.  Here the 

term dicotyledon simply refers to all non-

monocot flowering plants, devoid of its 

former biosystematic status but evidently still 

useful.  No reason is stated for excluding the 

monocots, which are major components of 

aquatic communities, but one can surmise that 

another volume as enormous as the present 

one will be needed to treat them.  Introductory 

information is given for families and genera 

that include aquatic species, and recent 

cladograms are provided wherever available, 

with aquatic taxa highlighted.  Generic 

entries include etymology, synonymies, 

distribution, and species diversity (both 

globally and in North America), habitat 

characteristics, key morphological traits, life 

history details, and general biological and 

ecological characteristics.  This is followed by a 

description of each relevant species, with their 

specific habitat preferences and ecological 

details. Included are lists of reported plant 

associates, sometimes extending to a half-

page or longer, as well as known interactions 

with other kinds of organisms whose full 

taxonomic affinities are provided.  Additional 

information on economic importance and any 

known medicinal or traditional uses are also 

given.  Literature citations appear at the end of 

each genus entry.  The list of cited references 

at the end of the book occupies almost 200 


It is hard not to be impressed by a work of this 

magnitude and the sustained effort involved 

in assembling it.   Aquatic Dicotyledons of 

North America appears destined to become 

an indispensable reference for almost any 

study of wetland plant communities on our 

continent and beyond.

-William B. Sanders, Florida Gulf Coast Uni-


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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


The Book of Seeds: A 

Life-size Guide to Six 

Hundred Species from 

Around the World

Smith, P. (editor)

2018. ISBN-13: 978-0-226-

36223-6 (cloth), 978-0-226-

36237-3 (e-book)

Cloth, US$55.00; E-book, 

US$44.00; 656 pp.

The University of Chicago 

Press, Chicago, IL

Weighing in at nearly 2½ kg, The Book of 

Seeds contains actual- and magnified-sized 

illustrations of seeds from a taxonomic 

spectrum of 600 wild and cultivated species 

from around the globe.  The high-quality 

images allow a reader to appreciate the 

intricacies of seed morphology—from the 

spiky surface of Silene dioica to the fiber 

network of Telfairia pedata.  The bright 

red of Abrus precatoris seed or the mottled 

appearance of Ricinus communis seed leap 

from the page.  The actual size of Vanilla 

planifolia seeds is so tiny that multiple seeds 

about the size of a dime need to be shown in 

contrast to Lodoicea maldivica seed that spans 

the bottom of 1½ pages—and this only shows 

the top-most part of the seed.  From the two-

horned seed of Trapa natans to the black-hair 

covered seed of Protea cynarioides, I believe 

a reader will be enthralled at all the textures, 

colors, sizes, shapes, and appendages of seeds 

that this book captures.

The heart of the book—covering about 95% of 

the 656 pages—is devoted to the seed guide.  

One species is covered per page.  A world 

map with the geographical range, colored 

images of the seed, and a line drawing of the 

plant are shown for each species.  Across the 

top of the page, the plant family, distribution, 

habitat, dispersal, conservation status, trivia 

notes, and seed size are provided.  The text 

is arranged in three short sections.  The 

first contains information on the plant—its 

size, description, and uses—and the second 

covering similar species.  The third section 

includes a mixture of data related to seeds 

and their production for the species (e.g., 

pollination, fruit structure, dispersal, moisture 

relations, and germination).

The other 5% of the book has introductory 

material and chapters devoted to seed 

biology (anatomy, morphology, dormancy, 

and longevity), seed plant evolution, seeds 

and humans, seed conservation (collection, 

storage, and germination), and the importance 

of plant diversity.  Each of these chapters 

covers the relevant information in succinct 

detail.  At the end of the book, a reader will 

find a glossary, list of resources, notes on 

the editor and five contributors, and two 

indexes—one with common names and the 

other with scientific names.

Without dwelling on every little detail, let 

me provide some examples of areas that I 

think the book could have been improved.  

Providing sources would have clarified 

information provided in the book.  I realize 

that a popular book shouldn’t overburden a 

reader with references.  However, I assumed 

that the conservation status for each species 

was from the IUCN.  I guess this was correct 

since very few inconsistencies occurred 

(e.g.,  Pterocarpus santalinus listed as Near 

Threatened and not as Endangered).  Are 

seeds of Oenothera caespitosa and Dionaea 

muscipula bird dispersed?  I searched in 

vain for literature but could not find any 

information to support these claims.  

A reader needs to be careful with the 

geographical ranges of species given in the 

book.  Some species have a narrower range 

than indicated in the book (e.g., Jatropha 

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PSB 65 (1) 2019 


gossypiifolia grows only in Florida (not 

throughout North America) (USDA Plants,  The ranges 

of other species are wider than indicated 

(e.g., Fragaria virginiana and Oxalis violacea 

occur throughout all or most of the United 

States, not only the Midwest).  Naturalized 

ranges for some species are provided (e.g., 

Ligustrum sinense, Nepeta cataria), but those 

for other species are not (e.g., Daucus carota, 

Lactuca sativa).  Some distributions are easily 

missed due to their extremely small size (e.g., 

Alluaudia procera). I would have placed an 

arrow to draw attention to the area. 

Unfortunately, some statements on seed 

dormancy are misleading. The book states 

that “… it is only the weathering of the seed 

coat … or by passing through the gut of an 

animal” that allows physical dormancy to be 

broken.  On the contrary, this dormancy is 

also overcome by fluctuating temperatures, 

drying, fire, and winter temperatures. For 

physiological dormancy, “… seeds require 

cold temperatures [cold stratification] to break 

down inhibiting chemicals before they can 

germinate.”  On the contrary, this dormancy 

is overcome by changes in hormones and the 

“push power” of the embryo.  

I would recommend a few other changes in 

future editions of the book.  While the fruits 

for some species are shown (e.g., Persea 

americana, Aesculus hippocastanum, Punica 

granatum), adding images of the distinctive 

fruits or structures for the Mickey Mouse plant 

(Ochna kirkii), sausage tree (Kigelia africana), 

and rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) would 

be appreciated.  For clarification, I would 

identify all of the structures on the bean seed 

figure (p. 10) similar to the corn seed.  Also, 

I would additionally label the hypocotyl and 

radicle (or simply embryo) on both the bean 

and corn seed.  The graph on p. 27 needs 

clarification since no y-axis label is present; 

does the graph show documented uses among 

all species or only those that are faced with 


Laying aside these criticisms, did the book 

accomplish its purpose in providing a 

snapshot of the incredible diversity of seeds?  

The answer: a resounding yes!  I thoroughly 

enjoyed going through the book and 

reminding myself of this great diversity.

–Jeffrey L. Walck, Department of Biology, 

Middle Tennessee State University, Murfrees-

boro, Tennessee, 37132 

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Plant Science Bulletin

The Botanical Society of 

America is a membership soci-

ety whose mission  is to: pro-

mote botany, the field of basic 

science dealing with the study 

& inquiry into the form, func-

tion, development, diversity, 

reproduction, evolution, & uses 

of plants & their interactions 

within the biosphere.

ISSN 0032-0919  

Published quarterly by  

Botanical Society of America, Inc.  

4475 Castleman Avenue 

St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 


Periodicals postage is paid at  

St. Louis, MO & additional  

mailing offices.  


Send address changes to: 

Botanical Society of America 

Business Office 

P.O. Box 299 

St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 


The yearly subscription rate  

of $15 is included  

in the membership  

Address Editorial Matters (only) to: 

Mackenzie Taylor, Editor 

Department of Biology  

Creighton University 

2500 California Plaza 

Omaha, NE 68178 

Phone 402-280-2157

Plant Science Bulletin

                                                                                 Spring 2019 Volume 65 Number 1

BOTANY 2019  



Plenary Speaker 

Stephen Pyne 

Fire's American Century

Regional Botany Special Lecture  - Tom Devender 

Enhancing Diversity Luncheon Presentation - Tom Antonio 

Incoming BSA President - Linda Watson 

Incoming ASPT President - Pamela Soltis

Register Now - Don't Miss Out!

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Plan your Botany Summers 


Botany 2019

Tucson, Arizona

July 27 - 31, 2019

Botany 2020

Anchorage, Alaska

July 18 – 22, 2020

Fire and Ice!

Plan your Botany Summers 


Botany 2019

Tucson, Arizona

July 27 - 31, 2019

Botany 2020

Anchorage, Alaska

July 18 – 22, 2020

Fire and Ice!

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