Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2019 v65 No 2 SummerActions

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Fighting plant blindness with  

monumental trees.... p. 95

Two BSA students’ paths into botany... p. 122

Report from Congressional  

Visits Day.... p. 85

Botany 2019: A Time to Connect and Collaborate! 

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                                                     Summer 2019 Volume 65 Number 2


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

James McDaniel 


Botany Department 

University of Wisconsin Madison 

Madison, WI  53706


The summer is well underway for most of us. 

I hope that many of you have carved out some 

time to attend Botany 2019 in Tucson. In this is-

sue, we have information about events that you 

don’t want to miss! 

Lately, I’ve been busy advising incoming first-

year students at Creighton as they prepare to 

register for their first college classes. So few of 

them express interest in any aspect of plant or en-

vironmental science, even though at least some 

of them actually will end up pursuing careers in 

those areas. As botanists, we have our work cut 

out for us to raise awareness and engage the next 

generation of plant scientists and science com-

municators. For this reason, I find the stories 

about public education that we feature in PSB

such as the David Ehret’s article about accessing 

botany through video games (Botany as a State 

of Flow) in our Spring issue and the Lopes et al. 

article (Monumental Trees: Guided Walks as an 

Educational Science Awareness Experience) in 

this issue so inspiring. I’d love to feature more 

of these programming ideas in this publication!

In this issue, you will also find the testimonials 

from this year’s Congressional Visit Day. As al-

ways, we at PSB want to highlight the good and 

essential work that these folks are doing to raise 

the profile of plant science in the eyes of the U.S. 


Don’t forget to consider submitting your articles 

and essays to Plant Science Bulletin. We exist to 

highlight the ideas and concerns of the entire 

Botanical Community.

See you in Tucson!


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Botanical Society of America’s Award Winners ....................................................................................... 70

      Four Members Win Distinguished Fellow Award .............................................................................. 70

      Emily Sessa Wins BSA Emerging Leaders Award .......................................................................... 73

Public Policy Committee Report from Congressional Visits Day .................................................. 85


In Memoriam  - William P. Jacobs (1919-2019) ...................................................................................... 91   

American Journal of Botany

 Announces New 




 feature ........................................... 94 


Monumental Trees: Guided Walks as an Educational Science Awareness Experience ..... 95



Congratulations to 2019 Bessey Award winner Suzanne Koptur! ...............................................113

Seeking 20 Graduate Students and Post-Doctorals for Researchers for  

      PlantingScience Master Plant Science Team Online Mentoring Opportunity ..............114

Featured Education Resource .........................................................................................................................115

Education Features at Botany 2019: Sky Islands and Desert Seas .........................................118



A Journey to the Southwest: A Student’s Guide for Botany 2019 ...............................................119 

The Path into Botany: Student Stories from Botany Conferences .............................................122



Ecological .....................................................................................................................................................................125

Economic Botany .....................................................................................................................................................130


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Dr. Sean Graham (University of British 

Columbia) is widely recognized as one of 

world’s leading and innovative students of plant 

systematics and is often on the leading edge in 

several important areas of plant evolutionary 

biology. Sean became a full professor at the 

University of British Columbia in 2012 and 

since 2016 has served the role as Head of the 

Department of Botany. He has played a key 

role in many major initiatives to reconstruct 

the phylogeny of land plants, using intensive 

Botanical Society of America’s 

Award Winners


The Distinguished Fellow of the Botanical Society of America is the highest honor our Society 

bestows. Each year, the award committee solicits nominations, evaluates candidates, and selects 

those to receive an award. Awardees are chosen based on their outstanding contributions to the 

mission of our scientific Society. The committee identifies recipients who have demonstrated 

excellence in basic research, education, public policy, or who have provided exceptional 

service to the professional botanical community, or who may have made contributions to a 

combination of these categories. 

sampling of genes and species to yield a robust 

reconstruction of the evolutionary tree of this 

group. Sean’s work has three characteristics 

worthy of highlighting: (1) it is focused on the 

broad relationships of major groups, and thus 

serves as a framework for many subsequent 

studies; (2) it uses dense sampling of many 

genes and many species, to provide more 

robust results than in previous studies; and 

(3) the data are gathered with great care. His 

penchant for double- and triple-checking his 

sequence data produces results that serve as a 

gold standard for the field.

Sean has also distinguished himself for his 

record of generous and highly effective service 

to the botanical community. For example, as 

BSA’s Director-at-Large for Publications over 

the past six years, he played a leading role in the 

decision to move to a commercial publisher, 

and shepherded the Society through the 

process of selecting a publishing partner and 

successfully transitioning the BSA journals to 

publication by Wiley. Sean has also served as 

an associate editor for the American Journal 



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of Botany for many years and has been a key 

contributing member on the Publications 

Ethics Committee. He is a caring and skilled 

teacher of both undergraduate  and graduate 

students and a responsive colleague to all 

whom request his advice.


Dr. David W. Lee (Florida International 

University) is a plant functional ecologist 

especially interested in tropical and 

subtropical plants. He has done pioneering 

research on the physical basis and functional 

significance of plant color and has researched 

light environments in tropical forests, leaf 

optical properties, structural color in leaves, 

anthocyanin function (including autumn 

leaf color), light quality/quantity effects on 

seedling and plant development, and plasticity, 

especially in leaves. In addition to his record 

in basic plant research, he has an outstanding 

record of public outreach for the botanical 

sciences, which has included the publication 

of 11 popular but also scientifically rigorous 

books on botanical topics. His 2007 book, 

Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color, 

won the Best of Biology and Life Sciences 

Award from the Association of American 

Publishers. His other books range from a book 

presenting the writings of the plant explorer 

David Fairchild (The World as Garden), 

through one of photographs and descriptions 

of the trees of south Florida (Wayside Trees of 

Tropical Florida), to his recent book on leaves 

(Nature’s Fabric, Leaves in Science and Culture).  

David has been a life-long member of the BSA. 

In addition to his strong record of research 

and service to the BSA and the public, he has 

been an excellent teacher and was awarded the 

BSA Charles Edwin Bessey Teaching Award 

in 2006 in recognition of his outstanding 

record in botanical education. He was the 

first botanist in a fledgling Department of 

Biological Sciences at Florida International 

University (FIU), a brand-new public 

university in Miami, and he worked to develop 

a robust program in the plant sciences at this 

young university, initiating hiring of botanical 

faculty and developing formal collaborations 

between FIU and other botanical institutions.




Dr. Ann Sakai and Dr. Steve Weller 

(University of California, Irvine) have 

significantly advanced our understanding of 

the evolution of plant breeding systems while 

promoting Hawaiian plant conservation and 

serving the botanical community in numerous 

important capacities. They have made major 

contributions to our understanding of the 



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evolutionary forces that lead to shifts in 

heterostyly as well as in floral condition, 

principally in two study systems: the evolution 

of heterostyly in Oxalis (Oxalidaceae) and 

the evolution of dioecy and wind pollination 

in  Schiedea (Caryophyllaceae). The NSF 

has recognized the value of their work by 

essentially continually funding it over the last 

30 years. As with all great researchers, they 

have followed research questions wherever 

they lead, regardless of technique. Very few 

botanists are as deeply involved with all facets 

of botany, from systematics to ecology, as are 

Ann and Steve. Their stellar research careers 

have been rewarded by election as fellows to 

the AAAS. 

Much of their work has also had direct and 

tangible impacts on conservation of Hawaiian 

Schiedea, while affording great respect to 

Hawaiian culture. Their greenhouse collection 

(which includes 25 of 32 extant species, almost 

all of which are federally endangered) forms 

an important reservoir of genetic diversity, 

and their ongoing research has documented 

patterns of genetic diversity, demography, 

and gene flow that are absolutely essential for 

Schiedea species conservation management 

programs. Much of their recent research has 

also focused on ways to increase Schiedea 

abundance in Hawaii, in collaboration with 

the National Tropical Botanical Garden and 

numerous state and federal agencies across 


Ann and Steve have also been deeply involved 

in service to the BSA and greater botanical 

community. Throughout their careers they 

have made education, outreach, and inclusion 

central parts of their work. For example, Ann 

is a co-founder and leader of BSA’s highly 

successful PLANTS (Preparing Leaders and 

Nurturing Tomorrow’s Scientists) program, 

which is now in its second 5-year NSF grant 

period. The PLANTS program is designed to 

increase representation from undergraduate 

communities who have historically not been 

represented in botany by bringing 10 to 15 

such students to the Botany conference each 

year. More broadly, Ann has been deeply 

involved in numerous initiatives at UC Irvine 

to improve diversity, including initiatives 

to foster collaboration with historically 

black colleges and universities, and between 

Mexican and Californian institutions. Steve 

was BSA president from 2010 to 2013, where 

he helped establish the Emerging Leader 

Award and secured the agreement with the 

Missouri Botanical Garden that led to the 

continuation of the current headquarters for 

BSA. He has also served as BSA Secretary and 

as a board member. Ann and Steve have also 

been deeply involved in AJB as editors, authors, 

and reviewers, and they were co-editors for a 

special issue on Global Biological Change in 

2013. They have also distinguished themselves 

as outstanding and sensitive mentors to 

generations of students, leading to numerous 

awards for teaching and mentorship at UC 

Irvine. They are central figures in the ongoing 

success of the BSA as an institution that 

supports research, education, and inclusion.

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PSB 65 (2) 2019        




Dr.  Emily  Sessa  (University  of  Florida)  serves  as  Assistant  Professor  at  the  University  of 

Florida where she has developed a well-funded and strong research program. Emiy’s research 

is  focused  on  understanding  the  evolutionary  processes  that  shape  plant  diversity  with  a 

major  focus  on  fern  systematics  and  phylogenetics.  To  this  end,  she  has  published  more 

than  40  peer-reviewed  publications  on  these  topics  with  significant  contributions  to  our 

understanding  of  Dryopteris  phylogenetics  and  systematics  as  well  as  plant  biogeography. 

Emily also studies plant physiology and is among the few researchers to genuinely combine 

physiology,  genomics,  and  phylogenetics  in  her  analyses  of  drought  tolerance  in  fern 

gametophytes and sporophytes. At the heart of her research is the question, “What ecological 

and evolutionary processes have generated, and help to maintain, fern diversity on Earth?”  

Emily  has  been  described  as  one  of  the  brightest  botanical  stars  of  her  generation  by  her 

colleagues and is already an active leader in the botanical research community. She has served 

as an editor or associate editor for the American Fern Journal and the American Journal of 

Botany, as Communications Coordinator for the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and 

was recently elected as the next Director at Large for Publications on the BSA Board. Over the 

past 24 months, Emily has delivered 13 invited seminars and lectures. She has also mentored 

more than 12 undergraduate students, four graduate students, and two postdoctoral researchers.  


Her latest teaching endeavor is a study abroad course on the Biodiversity of Southern Africa. 

Emily will be leading a four-week field course in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia that 

immerses students in field research and hands-on learning in one of the most botanically and 

biologically exciting areas on Earth.

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The Public Policy Award was established in 2012 to support the development of tomorrow’s leaders 

and a better understanding of this critical area. This year’s winners are:

Audrey Haynes, Ph.D. Candidate, University of California Berkeley

Adam Schneider, Assistant Professor and Herbarium Curator, Hendrix College


This award organized by the Environmental and Public Policy Committees of BSA and ASPT aims 

to support local efforts that contribute to shaping public policy on issues relevant to plant sciences. 

This year’s winner is:

Else Schils—for the proposal: Bringing Biocultural Diversity to the forefront of the Political 

Agenda in Guam


The Darbaker Prize in Phycology is given each year in memory of Dr. Leasure K. Darbaker. It is 

presented to a resident of North America for meritorious work in the study of microscopic algae 

based on papers published in English by the nominee during the last two full calendar years. This 

year the Darbaker Award for meritorious work on microscopic algae is presented to:

Dr. Louise Lewis, University of Connecticut


Emma Frawley, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO

Ksenia Pereverzeva, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA


The Genetics Section Graduate Student Research Award provides $500 for research funds and an 

additional $500 for attendance at a future BSA meeting.

Adriana Hernandez, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

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Alan Yocca, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI



This award was established in 2006 by Dr. Barbara D. Webster, Grady’s wife, and Dr. Susan V. 

Webster, his daughter, to honor the life and work of Dr. Grady L. Webster. After Barbara’s passing 

in 2018, the award was renamed to recognize her contributions to this field of study. The American 

Society of Plant Taxonomists and the Botanical Society of America are pleased to join together in 

honoring both Grady and Barbara Webster. In odd years, the BSA gives out this award and in even 

years, the award is provided by the ASPT


William B. Sanders and Asunción de los Ríos. 2017. Parenchymatous cell division characterizes 

the fungal cortex of some common foliose lichens. American Journal of Botany 104: 207-

217. doi:10.3732/ajb.1600403

Honorable Mention:
Dan Johnson, Phoebe Eckart, Noah Alsamadisi, Hilary Noble, Celia Martin, and Rachel 

Spicer. 2018. Polar auxin transport is implicated in vessel differentiation and spatial patterning 

during secondary growth in PopulusAmerican Journal of Botany 105: 186-196. doi:10.1002/



The goal of the Developing Nations Travel Grants is to encourage international collaboration and 

foster connections within our international botanical community by extending financial help to 

those in need of assistance to attend Botany conferences. This year’s winners are:

Oyedapo Ololade Adesomi, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria

Sekinat Okikiola Azeez, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria

John Chau, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Eliezer Cocoletzi, Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico

Ana Andruchow Colombo, Universidad de Buenos Aires and Museo Paelontológico Egidio 

Feruglio, Argentina

Facundo De Benedetti, Egidio Feruglio Paleontological Museum, Trelew, Argentina

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Ethiéne Guerra, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil

Alison Gonçalves Nazareno, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Nora Oleas, Universidad Tecnologica Indoamerica in Machala y Sabanilla, Quito, Ecuador

Shabir Ahmad Rather, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India


The Professional Member Travel Grants aim to increase attendance of scientists who lack grant or 

institutional support for travel to the annual BSA meeting as well as to increase diversity among 

the annual meeting attendees. This year’s winners are:

Laura Frost, Louisiana State University

Jordan Metzgar, Virginia Tech

Carlos J. Pasiche-Lisboa, University of Manitoba, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 


Ayobola Sakpere, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria

Carolina Moriani Siniscalchi, University of Memphis

Kevin Weitemier, Oregon State University

Dustin Wolkis, National Tropical Botanical Garden

Cheng-Chiang Wu, Harvard University

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The BSA Graduate Student Research Awards support graduate student research and are made 

on the basis of research proposals and letters of recommendations. Within the award group is 

the Karling Graduate Student Research Award. This award was instituted by the Society in 1997 

with funds derived through a generous gift from the estate of the eminent mycologist, John Sidney 

Karling (1897-1994), and supports and promotes graduate student research in the botanical 

sciences. The 2019 award recipients are:


Jennifer Ackerfield, Colorado State University—for the proposal: Unraveling the link between 

hanging garden and alpine thistles (Compositae: Cirsium): A phylogeographic study of Cirsium 

rydbergii and C. ownbeyi of the Colorado Plateau



Steven Augustine, University of Wisconsin

—Madison—for the proposal: Quantifying 

Environmental Tolerances of Wisconsin’s Southern Hardwoods for Effective Oak Savanna Restoration

Dylan Cohen, Claremont Graduate University—for the proposal: Illuminating Loasa 

(Loasaceae) diversity in Chile using next generation sequencing

Michelle D’Aguillo, Duke University—for the proposal: Habitat tracking through germination 

phenology in two southern Appalachian Phacelia (Boraginaceae) species

Michael D’Antonio, Stanford University—for the proposal: Ontogeny and structure of Late 

Paleozoic arborescent lycopsids

Maria Beatriz de Souza Cortez, University of Florida—for the proposal: Elucidating the floristic 

history of Brazil’s campos rupestresto help preserve its future

Sonal Gupta, University of Michigan—for the proposal: Deconstructing the sweetpotato: How 

influential is leaf shape on fitness and what is the role of environmental variation?

Adriana Hernandez, Cornell University—for the proposal: Revealing the Evolutionary History 

and Ecological Niches of a Highly Polymorphic Lily, Calochortus venustus: An Integrative 

Approach to Conservation

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Cody Coyotee Howard, Florida Museum of Natural History—for the proposal: The progression 

of aridity in Africa and its effects on plant evolution

Rachel Lyman, Washington University in St. Louis—for the proposal: The Biogeography of the 

Central Tennessee Basin Glade Endemics

Yesenia Madrigal Bedoya, University of Antioquia (Colombia)—for the proposal: Gene 

evolution and characterization of genes that promote flowering in Neotropical orchids

Cheyenne Moore, Bucknell University—for the proposal: The conservation challenge of linear 

populations: Using field surveys and herbarium collections to inform the populations genetics of a 

Pennsylvania rare plant, Baptisia australis var. australis

OJO Funmilola Mabel, Obafemi Awolowo University—for the proposal: Genetic and Cytogenetic 

studies of the Andropogon gayanus –Andropogon tectorum complex in South Western Nigeria

Maria Pimienta, Florida International University—for the proposal: Diurnal and nocturnal 

pollination of Guettarda scabra (Rubiaceae), an advantage to surviving in South Florida’s 

disappearing pine rocklands

Sébastien Rivest, University of Ottawa—for the proposal: Evolutionary and ecological causes 

and consequences of pollen defense

Amanda Salvi, University of Wisconsin - Madison—for the proposal: Determining the roll 

of nitrogen loss on non-stomatal photosynthetic limitations to water stress in greenhouse and 

common garden experiments

Karla Sosa, Duke University—for the proposal: Escaping Australia: The role of ploidy and 

reproductive mode in the dispersal of Australasian Cheilanthes (Pteridaceae)

Jordon Tourville, SUNY-ESF—for the proposal: The Potential Influence of Mycorrhizal 

Mutualists on Tree Elevational Range Expansions Under Future Climate Change

Daniel Turck, University of Idaho—for the proposal: Identifying cryptic diversity and 

modeling future distributions of North American temperate rainforest plants, using comparative 

phylogeography and machine learning

Cecilia Zumajo, The New York Botanical Garden—for the proposal: Origin and evolution of the 

seed coat in gymnosperms

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This award was named in honor of the memory and work of Dr. Vernon I. Cheadle. This year’s 

winners are:

Alexander Bippus, Oregon State University (Advisor: Ruth A. Stockey)—for 

the proposal: Uncovering Mesozoic polar bryophyte diversity: A permineralized 

haplolepideous moss gametophyte from the Late Cretaceous of the north slope of Alaska


Co-authors: Ruth Stockey, Ger Rothwell

Megan Nibbelink, Humboldt State University (Advisor: Mihai Tomescu)—for 

the proposal: Exploring zosterophyll diversity in the Emsian (Early Devonian) 

permineralized assemblages of the Battery Point Formation (Québec, Canada)


Co-author: Alexandru Tomescu

Annika Smith, University of Florida (Advisors: Pamela and Douglas Soltis)—for the 

proposal: How many ways are there to make a nectar spur? Studies in the nasturtiums (Tropaeolum)


Co-authors: Lena Struwe, Kurt Stenn, Douglas Soltis, Pamela Soltis

Zebadiah Yoko, North Dakota State University (Advisor: Dr. Jill 

Hamilton)—for the proposal:  Teasing apart the scale of quantitative 

trait differences for restoration across heterogeneous landscapes


Co-authors: Kate Volk, Jill Hamilton


The purpose of these awards is to offer individual recognition to outstanding graduating seniors in 

the plant sciences

 and to encourage their participation in the Botanical Society of America.

Emma Baker, Creighton University (Advisor: Dr. Mackenzie Taylor)

Susan Eiben, Ohio University (Advisor: Dr. Harvey Ballard)

Sophie Everbach, Oberlin College (Advisor: Dr. Michael J. Moore)

Chlöe Fackler, McGill University (Advisor: Dr. Frieda Beauregard)

Blake Fauskee, Duke University (Advisor: Dr. Kathleen Pryer)

Linnea Fraser, Oberlin College (Advisor: Dr. Michael J. Moore)

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Evan Gallagher, University of Missouri–Columbia (Advisor: Dr. J. Chris Pires)

Ava Heller, Ohio University (Advisor: Dr. Harvey Ballard)

Claire Jorgensen, Willamette University (Advisor: Dr. Susan Kephart)

Melissa Kosty, UCLA (Advisor: Dr. Ann M. Hirsch)

Elizabeth Ladyzhets, Barnard College - Columbia University (Advisor: Dr. Hilary S. Callahan)

Hailee McOmber, Fort Lewis College (Advisor: Dr. Ross A. McCauley)

Jocelyn Navarro, Connecticut College (Advisor: Dr. Chad Jones)

Sofia Ocampo, Florida International University (Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Koptur)

Simone Oliphant, Florida International University (Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Koptur)

Asa Peters, Connecticut College (Advisor: Dr. Chad Jones)

Emily Swindell, Fort Lewis College (Advisor: Dr. Ross A. McCauley)

Helene Tiley, Oberlin College (Advisor: Dr. Michael J. Moore)


The PLANTS (Preparing Leaders and Nurturing Tomorrow’s Scientists: Increasing the diversity 

of plant scientists) program recognizes outstanding undergraduates from diverse backgrounds 

and provides travel grants and mentoring for these students. This year’s winners are:

Austin Betancourt, San Jose State University (Advisor: Benjamin Carter)

Talbrett Caramillo, Fort Lewis College (Advisor: Ross McCauley)

Marco Donoso, University of Central Oklahoma (Advisor: Chad King)

C.J. Cooper, College of the Redwoods (Advisor: Maria Friedman)

Lisa Danback, Webster University (Advisor: Nicole Miller-Struttman)

Ana Flores, Florida International University (Advisor: Jennifer Richards)

Mari Irving, University of Central Florida (Advisor: Chase Mason)

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Chazz Jordan, Georgia State University (Advisor: Lauren Eserman)

Cristina Raya, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (Advisor: Rupesh Kariyat)

Rachael Snodgrass, Gonzaga University (Advisor: Stephen Hayes)

Tatyana Soto, Mills College (Advisor: Sarah Swope)

Emily Swindell, Fort Lewis College (Advisor: Ross McCauley)

Dannielle Waugh, University of Central Florida (Advisor: Chase Mason)

Danielle Weaver, CSU-Fullerton (Advisor: Joshua Der)




Ana Andruchow Colombo,  Museo Paleontológico Egidio Ferugio (Advisor: Ignacio 

Escapa)—for the presentation: Anatomical studies of two Chilean Podocarpaceae species: 

insights to the seed cone and leaf morphological evolution of the family

Molly Edwards, Harvard University (Advisor: Elena Kramer)—for the presentation: Exploring 

the developmental and genetic basis of complex petal morphologies in bee- and hummingbird-

pollinated Aquilegia (columbine)

Asia Hightower, Wayne State University (Advisor: Edward Golenberg)—for the 

presentation: Sculpting an imperfect flower: The study of KNUCKLES in primordia regulation



Natalie Love, University of California, Santa Barbara (Advisor: Dr. Susan Mazer)—for the 

presentation: A new phenological metric for use in pheno-climatic models: a case study using 

herbarium specimens of Streptanthus tortuosus

Kristin Peach, University of California, Santa Barbara (Advisor: Dr. Susan Mazer)—for the 

presentation: Rethinking floral attraction: sexual dimorphism in Clarkia unguiculata

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Meera Lee Sethi, University of Washington, Seattle (Advisor: Janneke Hille Ris Lambers)—

for the presentation: Higher, Faster, Hungrier: Complex Dynamics of a Subalpine Plant-Insect 

Herbivore Interaction

Tanisha Williams, University of Connecticut (Advisor: Dr. Kent Holsinger)—for the 

presentation:  Using species distribution models to assess the impacts contemporary and 

forecasted climate change has on the distribution patterns of Pelargonium species throughout 

South Africa



Helen Holmlund, University of California, Santa Cruz (Advisor: Jarmila Pittermann)—for 

the presentation: High-resolution computed tomography reveals dynamics of desiccation and 

rehydration in a desiccation-tolerant fern.

Alaina Petlewski, Cornell University (Advisor: Fay-Wei Li)—for the presentation: Using 

sequencing technologies to investigate evolutionary questions in Lycopodiaceae

Lindsey Riibe, University of Florida (Advisor: Dr. Emily Sessa)—for the 

presentation: Morphology and sequence data resolve the Diplazium praestans mystery

David Wickell, Cornell University (Advisor: Fay-Wei Li)—For the presentation: CAM 

photosynthesis in the aquatic lycophyte Isoetes taiwanensis

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PSB  65  (2)  2019        




This award provides acknowledgement and travel support to BSA meetings for outstanding 

student work coupling digital images (botanical) with scientific explanations/descriptions 

designed for the general public.






The Loasaceae are a small, predominantly New World family known colloquially as the “chili 

nettles,” “stickleafs,” or “blazing stars.” Members of the family bear a morphologically diverse 

layer of trichomes (hairs), some of which are similar to those found in nettles (Urtica) and 

likewise impart a painful sting. Loasa nana is a diminutive member of the Loasaceae that 

grows in alpine Patagonia. This specimen was photographed at Cerro Catedral, Argentina, at 

an elevation of approximately 6000 feet. Many members of the Loasaceae, including this taxon, 

exhibit induced (thigmonastic) stamen movements. If you look closely at the boat-shaped petals 

(yellow), you can see bundles of stamens, which spring out and release a shower of pollen when 

triggered by a potential pollinator. A few stamens, the anthers of which are visible in the center 

of the flower, have already been triggered. 


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In this image a detail of the central portion of a 

leaf of Saxegothaea conspicua in cross section 

can be observed. Saxegothaea conspicua is a 

conifer from Southern Chile and Argentina 

that belongs to the family Podocarpaceae. 

Leaves of S. conspicua have a single central 

vascular bundle (or vein) associated with a 

resin canal. Above, the vascular bundle can 

be observed comprising the xylem (above, 

in darker green) and the phloem (below, in 

lighter green). Three parenchyma rays, which 

are one-cell thick, can be observed crossing both 

the xylem and phloem; the one on the left is 

more easily distinguishable, as the cell content 

shines in yellow. Below the vascular bundle 

a single resin canal can be observed. This 

picture was taken with an epifluorescence 

light microscope, without previous dyeing 

the plant tissues. Therefore the different 

colors observed in this picture are the result 

of the different chemical composition of each 

cell type. 




Much like ducks use their body oil to keep 

their feathers from becoming waterlogged, 

water plants also employ various defenses to 

protect themselves from the water in which 

they live. Salvinia (water ferns) float on the 

water, and the upper surfaces of their leaves 

are coated with dense hairs. Any water that is 

dripped on the top of the leaf forms a bead and 

runs off quickly, never reaching the surface of 

the leaf. Looking closely, we can see that the 

shape of the hairs is incredibly unusual—each 

individual hair is shaped like an egg beater. 

In the photograph, we can see the water-

repellant properties of the egg-beater shaped 

hairs in action.

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By BSA PPC Co-Chairs Krissa Skogen (Chicago Botanic 

Garden) and Kal Tuominen (Metropolitan State University) 

and ASPT PPC Chair Andrew Pais (North Carolina State 


Public Policy Committee Report 

from Congressional Visits Day

This year, the BSA awarded the Public Policy 

Award to two BSA members: Audrey Haynes 

and Adam Schneider. Each of them---in 

addition to Jenny Mullikin, who won the award 

from American Society of Plant Taxonomists 

(ASPT)---traveled to Washington, DC to 

participate in this annual policy event 

sponsored by American Institute of Biological 

Sciences (AIBS) on March 26 and 27, 2019 

to advocate on behalf of federal funding 

from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and 

National Science Foundation (NSF) for basic 

research. Their experiences follow here.



Science is not insular. Whether we scientists 

like it or not, there is a reciprocal relationship 

between science and society. One fundamental 

influence  politics  has  on  science  is  through 

research funding. The federal government has 

historically funded around 60-70% of basic 

research in the U.S.—but in the last decade 

that number has shrunk to 44% (Mervis, 

2017). This decrease is partly due to increased 

investment by pharmaceutical corporations, 

but  primarily  to  a  flattening  of  the  federal 

science budget. In botany, many researchers 

are acutely familiar with this through 

decreased National Science Foundation 

(NSF) funding rates (currently ~20% [NSF, 

2018a]) and the suspension of programs 

like the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement 

Grant (NSF, 2018b). Scarce federal funding 

threatens the future of basic biological 

science, which may not turn a short-term 

profit but is vital to solving challenges such 

as food security, sustaining biodiversity, and 

combating emergent diseases. 

This March I had the honor of attending a 

Congressional Visits Day in Washington D.C. 

aimed at addressing this funding deficiency. 

My  first  day  I  gathered  with  a  group  of 

scientists from all over the country and at 

all career stages at the American Institute of 

Biological Sciences headquarters for a science 

communication training. In preparation for 

our visit to Congress we divided into regions. 

As a graduate student at UC Berkeley I was 

part of the California group, which was 

fittingly a large and diverse group of scientists 

studying everything from 

Alzheimer’s to mountain 

lion movement. We practiced 

telling our unique stories 

of how federal funding has 

impacted our work and how 

that work benefits society. 

The next morning we met up 

in a cafeteria in the basement 

of Congress to down some 

coffee and collect ourselves. 

Our schedule was packed 

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with meetings with offices of six members of 

the House and both California senators. For 

each meeting, we designated a lead depending 

on who was a constituent of the policymaker. 

I was the lead with Barbara Lee and Dianne 

Feinstein’s  offices.  This  was  particularly 

special since, as a Berkeley native, these 

women have been my representatives for as 

long as I can remember. 

Our ask was at least $9 billion for NSF and 

$41.6 billion for the National Institutes of 

Health (NIH) in the upcoming fiscal year (FY 

2020), a slight increase in funding from the 

previous year. In contrast, the White House 

requested to decrease funding for science 

across the board, including by ~12% for both 

NSF and NIH (OMB, 2019). The proposed 

FY  2020  budget  is  an  alarming  signal  of 

the president’s goals. Ultimately, however, 

Congress controls the federal budget, so 

reaching out to policymakers is an important 

step toward an adequate budget for NSF and 


In our meetings I illustrated the importance of 

plant ecology research through my experience. 

My lab has received federal funding to 

study  fire  ecology  and  I  study  plant  water 

relations. Given California’s recent uptick in 

drought and highly destructive wildfires, this 

research is essential, something I understand 

both professionally and personally having 

almost lost my grandmother’s home to the 

Tubbs Fire in 2017. Federal funding for plant 

ecology research will help predict, mitigate, 

and prepare for future extreme events brought 

on by climate change. I also mentioned that 

as a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research 

Fellowship (GRFP), I know how federal 

funding has directly enabled my career. Since 

its inception in 1952, the GRFP has supported 

over 55,000 students (NSF, 2018a). This 

investment in early-career scientists is key to 

building our scientific research community and 

keeping the U.S. a global leader in scientific 

innovation. In addition, funding graduate 

students  can  reduce  financial  barriers  for 

young scientists, resulting in a more diverse 

and inclusive scientific community. 

Our California delegation happened to meet 

only with Democrats who largely supported 

our request. Intuitively this may seem 

ineffective, but politics is about priorities. 

Simply registering support for an issue is not 

enough to create change; our representatives 

need  to  actually  prioritize  and  fight  for  it. 

Without  the  scientific  community  actively 

telling our stories, communicating results, 

and contacting our representatives, science 

funding will fall to the bottom of the priority 

list. In the inevitable showdowns over the 

budget, it’s our responsibility to keep federal 

science funding at the forefront. Science is 

too important to be collateral damage. 

Audrey Haynes at the U.S. Capitol during  

Congressional Visits Day.

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Mervis, J. Data Check: US government share of 

basic research funding falls below 50%. Science 

Magazine. March 2017.



National Science Foundation. NSF FY 2019 

Budget Request to Congress. April 2018a.


National Science Foundation. DDIG 

Update. May 2018b. https://www.


Office of Management and Budget. A Budget 

for a Better America – President’s Budget FY 

2020. March 2019. https://www.whitehouse.




“Keep us informed” was a key message I heard 

repeatedly from lawmakers when asking what 

I can do to help them support science policy 

during the 2019 Congressional Visits Day 

(CVD) last March. At this event, organized by 

the American Institute of Biological Sciences 

(AIBS), I joined about 30 other biologists 

from academia, public agencies, and nonprofit 

organizations in Washington, DC for training 

at the AIBS headquarters followed by 

meetings with members of Congress and their 

staffs to advocate for federal investment in the 

biological sciences. 

Additional support from the Hendrix 

College Biology Department allowed 

me to also participate in the AIBS 




Camp  for  Scientists, held during the two 

days preceding the CVD. I learned strategies 

for communicating to non-specialists the 

importance of my research and that of others to 

non-specialists, which I immediately applied 

to my conversations with lawmakers and 

their staffs. For example, during the opening 

morning of the boot camp, we organized 

our message using the “Communications 

Triangle”: develop three key messages united 

by a common and concise big idea, and prepare 

effective transitions to pivot among these 

messages in any order. Depending on what 

best engages your audience, these messages 

might take the form of a story, statistic, or a 

memorable example. One Senate staffer I met 

with pointedly asked the return on investment 

in NSF funding, although others were most 

interested in hearing about our specific 

research projects, or what a scholarship 

program supported by an NSF grant to some 

of my colleagues had made possible for their 


The afternoon session of the first day focused 

on how science journalism works and how to 

interact with different types of media. Though 

various media outlets operate in different 

ways (hint: know your audience!), much of 

the advice was broadly applicable, such as 

“don’t bury the lede”; also, when correcting 

false information, it’s best to lead with a fact 

so as not to reinforce the myth. 

On the second day, the focus of the workshop 

pivoted to more directly preparing us to meet 

with lawmakers. We got an overview of the 

federal appropriations process, both in general 

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PSB  65  (2)  2019        


and specific differences between the Senate 

and House. Depending on the federal agency 

involved, several committees are responsible 

for shaping appropriation bills and then 

forwarding them to the floor. March and April 

are when budget resolutions are developed in 

Congress for the following year (FY2020), so 

we were asked to specifically request funding 

increases for the National Science Foundation 

(to $9 billion) and National Institutes of Health 

(to $41.6 billion) during our meetings from 

current FY2019 spending levels of $8.1 and 

$39 billion, respectively. These figures were 

mutually agreed upon by a number of science 

organizations to provide a strong common 

message. During our meetings on Capitol 

Hill, it was a challenge to balance relationship-

building with expressing a firm, concrete, and 

timely “ask.” One of the major benefits of 

these meetings is developing an opportunity 

for future dialogue. For example, the staffer 

interested in my colleague’s NSF grant to 

support scholarships to Pell-eligible students 

asked me to connect the two of them after 

our meeting. At the same time, sometimes the 

requested funding levels were the only thing 

that the legislative assistant wrote down from 

the meeting. 

During the last session of the boot camp, we 

were divided into groups based on geography 

and received schedules for our meetings 

the next day on Capitol Hill. I worked with 

Amrita Banerjee (Vanderbilt University, TN) 

and Jenny Mullikin (St. Louis University, MO) 

to hone our message and prepare for a busy 

day on Capitol Hill. 

We had a total of nine meetings, eight of which 

were scheduled ahead of time. The ninth was 

an impromptu meeting with a legislative 

assistant for my representative, French Hill (R 

- AR). While walking past his office on the way 

to lunch, I decided it couldn’t hurt to introduce 

ourselves and leave a couple of handouts. 

While I was taking to the receptionist, I asked 

if someone could talk to us, and next thing 

I knew I was talking to the staffer! Another 

highlight was having a legislative assistant 

to Rep. Jim Cooper (D - TN) chase us down 

in the hallway after our meeting to gleefully 

follow up (in the affirmative) on my question 

as to whether Rep. Cooper was a co-sponsor 

of the Botany Bill (HR1572, https://botanybill. 

After lunch we had six back-to-back meetings 

at various Senate offices. One difference 

between the houses of Congress is that Senate 

staffs are much larger and more specialized, 

which was apparent from the much more 

specific and technical questions posed by the 

Senate staffers with whom we met. Our last 

meeting of the day was our only direct meeting 

with an elected official, Sen. John Boozman (R 

- AR). 

Overall, I highly recommend this experience 

to all. The communication and civics training 

provided by AIBS was impactful for me, 

and I have plans to implement some of the 

communication strategies to improve my 

Adam Schneider during Congressional Visits 

Day stopping by to visit Arkansas State Repre-

sentative French Hill. 

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classroom teaching. From the visits on Capitol 

Hill, my most lasting takeaways include:

Decreased cynicism about our government 

and political process. Our visits were nearly 

universally well received. Washington DC is 

full of smart people working hard to solve 

problems and do the right thing, as well as 

groups of ordinary citizens from many walks 

of life (and sometimes in colorful t-shirts) 

participating in our democracy.

Empowerment to set up meetings with 

lawmakers in the future.

The importance of citizen activists to support 

government scientists. After a budget is 

proposed by the president, federal employees 

are legally bound to support their boss and not 

criticize or endorse the proposal even though 

they may be the most informed on those 


Always start with your bottom-line message 

because you never know how much time 

you’ll have. Provide handouts and visual 

aids. Listen. Dialogue.

If you are a constituent, mention this in your 

interactions. Your  presence  will  carry  more 


In-person meetings in local offices in your 

home district or state are nearly equally 

effective as travelling to Washington, D.C. 

Build relationships. You never know where 

they will lead.

In summary, I really appreciate AIBS for 

hosting and organizing this event, as well 

as the Botanical Society of America and 

my biology colleagues at Hendrix College 

for  financial  support  for  my  participation  in 

both the Congressional Visit Days and the 

Communications Training. I am very thankful 

for this experience!



I have been interested in science policy 

issues ever since I started working as an 

environmental consultant, conducting 

biological surveys for use in Clean Water 

Act and Endangered Species Act permitting. 

It is a field that I could not continue in long-

term, because seeing beautiful Midwestern 

forests become suburban neighborhoods 

was a weekly occurrence. Now that I am a 

graduate student again, I miss being involved 

in environmental policy. Thanks to ASPT, I 

was able to attend a Congressional Visits Day  

(CVD) in Washington, D.C., coordinated by 

the American Institute for Biological Sciences 

(AIBS). Finally, my interest in policy and 

passion for science were reunited. 

When I arrived in Washington, my first 

thought was, “Am I too early for the cherry 

blossoms?” I was, but I did see tiny pink 

buds emerging from the trees. My second 

thought was that I was going to be talking to 

actual policy makers on issues that matter. 

I was excited to meet other biologists and 

learn about their experiences with policy and 

science, and how they might incorporate that 

into their careers as scientists. There hasn’t 

been a large push to be involved in policy as 

a scientist, so it is nice to see other examples 

of scientists incorporating policy into their 


On the first day of the trip, AIBS conducted a 

communication bootcamp for the participants 

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in the CVD. We honed our message to our 

national representatives and met like-minded 

scientists from across the country. The skills 

we learned are valuable for communicating 

science not only to policymakers, but also 

other non-technical audiences that we interact 

with daily. We were divided into groups 

based on geographic location; being from St. 

Louis, Missouri, I was in the Midwest group 

with Dr. Adam Schneider from Arkansas 

and Dr. Amrita Banerjee from Tennessee. 

It was our job to talk to our collective 

senators and representatives to advocate for 

increased funding for both NIH and NSF, the 

powerhouse funders of science research.

I started the day solo at a Missouri “Coffee with 

Constituents” event with Senator Roy Blunt. 

He was very familiar with the importance of 

science funding to many Missouri institutions, 

so that was a positive way to start a long day. 

Afterwards, I met my Midwest group and we 

raced from buildings on either side of Capitol 

Hill to nine meetings—two senators and 

one representative from all three states. We 

somehow fit in a visit to the National Botanic 

Gardens over lunch, which was a tropical oasis 

amid the bustling city outside. 

What surprised me is that out of the nine 

senate and representative meetings we 

had that day, all but one was receptive to 

supporting science funding and hearing 

about our experiences. I talked about the role 

of science in my hometown of St. Louis or 

in shaping mine and my colleagues’ careers. 

However, I also found myself talking about 

how female bees have long leg hair to hold 

onto pollen grains, and how that is both 

adorably cute and important.  In the end, I 

realized that the staffers and representatives 

are just like friends and family who want 

to hear about the anecdotes of discovery 

and silly quirks that make doing science so 

stimulating and rewarding.  Personalizing 

and anthropomorphizing our science is not 

something to be encouraged normally. It’s a 

delicate balance of engaging non-scientists to 

care about what is really happening, but also 

not misinform or misrepresent the results. 

However, what is vital to spreading the 

importance of science is to ignite the same 

interest and passion that we have for science to 

others. We can drone on about the return on 

investment that we get from science funding, 

or how important science is to our daily lives. 

Those are important deliverables. But really 

relating to someone on the aspects of science 

that are interesting to them, and encouraging 

their curiosity, is what gets them onboard with 

our message. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate 

in CVD. The experience not only stimulated 

conversation with policymakers on the 

importance of science funding, but I gained 

insight into their side of the table as well. 

It is easy to sit back and talk about what is 

happening with science and policy and think 

that it is out of our control. In reality, it takes 

all of us constantly sharing our stories and 

passions with legislators to slowly change their 

minds and make a difference.  

Congressional Visits Day with Jenny Mul-

likin, Adam Schneider, Sen. John Boozman 

(R - AR), and Amrita Banerjee.

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In Memoriam



With great sadness, I have learned that 

William P. Jacobs, a professor emeritus at 

Princeton University, passed away on March 

3, 2019 in Princeton, New Jersey. He was 99.

Jacobs was born on May 25, 1919, in Boston. 

He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps 

(1942-1944). Jacobs received his Ph.D. in 

1946 from Harvard University. He joined the 

Princeton faculty in 1948 and taught at the 

University for more than four decades before 

transferring to emeritus status in 1989.

Jacobs’ courses included introductory botany 

and biology, as well as advanced studies of 

plant development. His interest in pedagogy 

led him to serve on a committee studying 

the role of botany in college curricula for the 

Botanical Society of America and another on 

innovation in lab instruction for the revision 

of high school biology curricula under the 

aegis of the American Institute of Biological 


Jacobs was a world-class biologist who had 

a huge impact on the understanding of the 

hormonal control of vascular differentiation 

and development in plants. His pioneering 

study published in 1952 in the American Journal 

of Botany opened the field of auxin research 

in vascular differentiation, by revealing that 

auxin produced in young leaves induces and 

controls xylem regeneration around a wound 

(Jacobs, 1952). Since then, numerous papers 

used this basic information to explore the role 

of auxin in vascular differentiation of plants. 

Jacobs also wrote many pioneering excellent 

publications on the role of other hormonal 

signal, like cytokinin and gibberellin, and 

published more than 170 publications, 

including his book: “Plant Hormones and 

Plant Development,” published in 1979.

Among his many awards, Jacobs received the 

Dimond Prize from the Botanical Society 

of America in 1975 and a Guggenheim 

Fellowship in 1967. In 1998, he was presented 

with the American Society of Plant Biologists’ 

Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award 

for achievement in plant physiological 

research and teaching.

Jacobs will be remembered for his elegant, 

quantitative, and creative research work 

on high plants, especially on xylem and 



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phloem differentiation in his model plant 

system Coleus blumei, as well as his research 

on the alga  Coulerpa, which is the world’s 

largest single-cell organism. He used to collect 

the alga in various sea locations and used to 

practice his swimming skills during lunchtime 

at the Princeton University’s swimming pool. I 

always enjoyed joining him for swimming and 

fruitful research discussions. He had a lifelong 

love of dancing and therefore arranged and 

attended countless dance parties.

Jacobs conducted research in a range of 

laboratories around the world, including 

the Bahamas, Cuba, England, Italy, and 


I remember Bill Jacobs as a very fine human 

being and an excellent scientist with the 

highest standards in his work. I feel that I 

have lost both my knowledgeable mentor and 

a very good friend. I will always remember 

him with love for the two productive PostDoc 

years (1974-76) spent in his laboratory.

He is survived by his wife, Jane Jacobs; 

two children, Mark and Anne; and five 


--Roni Aloni, Tel Aviv University, Israel




60 years ago:  Emanuel D. Rudolph of Wellesley College writes about how the concepts of evolution may 

be brought into beginning Botany courses. 

“The value to the students of information about plant evolution, even if it is very incomplete—a prodding 

indication that botanists are still actively interested in and actively working on evolutionary problems—should 

be well worth the effort on our parts.”

--Rudolph, Emanuel D. “Evolution in Beginning Botany Courses - The Mid Twentieth - Century Dodo 

Bird?” PSB 5(3): 7-8

50 years ago:  Irving Knobloch of Michigan State University describes innovative use of visual aids. 

“Not wishing to be out of the mainstream of innovation, we have examined the possibility of utilizing some 

sort of aid not ordinarily used in a plant anatomy course. Heeding the advice of certain psychologists that most 

of our knowledge is imported to us via our visual organs, we set up units in our laboratory best described as 

‘The tri-visual unit.’ This system consists of a rear-view projector, a microscope and a laboratory manual. We 

use the COC Rotator projectors now made by the Graflex Corporation, as seen in the illustration. This type has 

an inclined viewing screen which can, if necessary, be used for tracing. The entire projector folds down into a 

small suitcase-sized unit for easy carrying.

--Knobloch, Irving W. “The Use of Visual Aids in a Plant Anatomy Course” PSB 15(2): 4-5 

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PSB 65 (2) 2019 









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PSB 65 (2) 2019 









American Journal of Botany









The American Journal of Botany is pleased to announce the start of AJB Reviews, a new article 

type launching in 2020. These reviews will expand the coverage and reach of the journal by 

providing timely syntheses of a major issue, and new insights or perspectives to guide future 


AJB  Reviews,  headed  by  Dr.  Jannice  Friedman  (Queen’s  University,  Kingston,  Ontario, 

Canada),  place  topics  in  context  while  being  forward-thinking  and  insightful.  They  can 

develop new hypotheses and propose general models that help move the field forward. Original 

interdisciplinary  syntheses  and  articles  that  cover  newly  emerging  fields  are  welcomed. 

Authors can express a personal perspective while maintaining a balanced view of the field. 


Anyone interested in submitting an AJB Reviews should provide a preliminary summary of up 

to 250 words. A decision on whether to invite a full review rests with the Editorial Board. All 

contributions will be fully peer-reviewed, in line with other AJB manuscripts.

For more information, go to or e-mail the Review Editor at reviews@ 

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By Raquel Pires Lopes


, Cláudia Sintra Vieira


, Catarina Schreck Reis


, Paulo Re-

nato Trincão


and Amadeu M. V. M. Soares



 Department of Biology and Research Center “Didactics and Technology in Education of 

Trainers” (CIDTFF), University of Aveiro, University Campus, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal, 

+351 966504315,, 


 Psychologist at “Oficina de Psicologia”, 1050-179 Lisbon, Portugal, +351 967 536 


Centre for Funcional Ecology, Life Sciences Department, University of Coimbra, 3001-455 

Coimbra, Portugal, +351 239 703 897, 

Centre for Funcional Ecology, Life Sciences Department, University of Coimbra, 3001-455 

Coimbra, Portugal, +351 239 703 897,


Department of Biology & Center for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), Uni-

versity of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal, + 351-234 370 792, 

Monumental Trees: Guided Walks 

as an Educational Science 

Awareness Experience


To  reduce  “plant  blindness”  and  improve 

well-being,  a  new  approach  has  been 

designed  and  implemented.  The  method 

combines botany and mindfulness activities, 

developed as a proactive learning experience 

during  guided  walks,  to  positively  influence 

families regarding plant science through the 

exploration  of  monumental  trees  located  in 

different urban gardens of Coimbra, Portugal. 

This  short-term  program,  developed  for 

non-formal learning settings, was performed 

during a Summer Science Program promoted 

by  “Ciência  Viva”,  the  Portuguese  Agency 

for  Scientific  and  Technological  Culture. 

During  the  botanical  and  mindfulness 

activities carried out, public awareness about 

monumental  trees  was  enhanced  through 

the  “Tree  of  Emotions”  activity  performed 

at the end of the botanical guided walk. We 

measured the effect of this activity by assessing 

the  categories  through  which  participants 

relate to trees. An open-ended questionnaire 

was  enacted,  and  content  analysis  was 

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used. The analysis can be broken down into 

seven categories: ornamental and aesthetic; 

subjective, affective, and well-being; cultural; 

dendrometric; morphological; biological and 

environmental; and anthropomorphic. The 

most categories identified by participants 

are subjective, affective, and well-being 

experiences, revealing the scientific aspects 

explored. The results suggest that botanical 

guided walks combined with mindfulness 

exercises can be an efficient tool for the 

general public to establish affective links with 

trees and their surrounding spaces as well gain 

botany awareness, recognizing its importance 

in daily life.


The expression “monumental trees” has 

been adopted to refer to ancient trees (Haw, 

2014), large, old trees  (Lindenmayer et al., 

2014; Liu et al., 2019), and other trees that 

represent a living memory about the historical 

and cultural identity of communities, also 

related to aesthetics and subjective enjoyment 

(Pederson, 2010; Blicharska and Mikusiński, 

2014). Trees with special features, such as 

their longevity or featuring in old tales, are 

loved by communities and cultivate unusual 

social ties (Moon, 2014). Large, old trees 

are known to have important scientific and 

environmental attributes (Lindenmayer, et 

al., 2012, 2014), such as actively fixing large 

amounts of carbon compared to smaller trees 

(Stephenson et al., 2014), maintaining critical 

ecosystem functions (Lutz et al., 2018), or 

providing habitat for a variety of native species 

(Van der Hoek et al., 2017). In Portugal, trees 

that are distinguished from others of their 

species due to their size, design, age, rarity, or 

other natural, historical, cultural, or aesthetic 

features have been protected by legislation 

since 1938. Such trees are often called “Trees 

of Public Interest.” Once listed as being of 

public interest, monumental trees become 

living monuments and, as such, subject to 

certain advantages and constraints.

In general, however, and despite the value 

they represent, trees are disproportionately 

vulnerable in many ecosystems worldwide 

because of human activity (Lindenmayer et 

al., 2014; Patrut et al., 2018). Even with global 

concern about loss of biodiversity, strategies 

for protection of biodiversity—and plant 

biodiversity in particular—cannot reduce 

such loss without increasing public awareness 

of environmental problems (Fančovičová and 

Prokop, 2011). However, this is especially 

challenging since direct contact with nature 

Key words

botanical activities; Trees of Public Interest; 

people–plant interaction; non-formal 

learning; outdoor programs; mindfulness.


Raquel Pires Lopes and Catarina 

Schreck Reis are financially supported 

by scholarships from the Portuguese 

Foundation for Science and for Technology, 

respectively SFRH/BD/91905/2012 and 

SFRH/BPD/101370/2014. The authors 

would like to thank the “Exploratório 

Science Center of Coimbra,” “Oficina 

de Psicologia,” and “Ciência Viva” for 

the working partnership, as well as all of 

the participants in the Summer Science 

programs. The authors would like to 

thank all the participants who agreed to 

collaborate in this study by completing the 

questionnaires and consenting to the use 

of their answers. This work is financially 

supported by National Funds through FCT 

– “Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, 

I.P.” under project UID/CED/00194/2019. 

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has tended to decrease within modern society 

(Laaksoharju and Rappe, 2017). Indeed, 

children are becoming disconnected from 

nature, for a variety of reasons, including 

urbanization and loss of green space (Bertram 

and Rehdanz, 2015) and perceived risk of 

nature, parental fears, or control (Moss, 

2012). This leads to serious consequences 

for attitudes of students and the general 

public toward the environment and how they 

perceive nature (Lohr and Pearson-Mims, 

2005).  For these reasons, it is particularly 

important to stimulate the pro-environmental 

values and behaviors of the public (Bogner and 

Wiseman, 2004). Kattmann (2000) has shown 

that student interest in biology decreases as 

age increases, and by the time they become 

adults, knowledge about biodiversity issues 

has dissipated. This seems to be consistent 

with the Eurobarometer (2013) “Attitudes 

Towards Biodiversity” survey, which found 

that, across the European Union (EU), less 

than half (44%) of Europeans have heard the 

term “biodiversity” and know what it means. 

In fact, concerning plant biodiversity, the 

phenomenon of “plant blindness” has been 

used to justify the inability to see or notice 

plants in one’s environment, leading to the 

inability to recognize their importance in the 

biosphere and in human affairs (Wandersee 

and Schussler, 2001). To overcome this trend, 

it is important for people of different ages to 

increase direct tactile interaction with plants 

(Neiman and Ades, 2014; Schreck Reis et al., 

2014) through educational science awareness 

actions where participants can focus on 

monumental trees. As Fančovičová and 

Prokop (2011) have shown, this strategy is a 

suitable alternative to conventional biology 

courses, to positively influence participants’ 

attitudes toward and knowledge of plants. 

This idea was also reported on by Lohr and 

Pearson-Mims (2005), who showed that 

children’s active and passive interactions with 

plants influence their attitudes and actions 

toward trees and gardening as adults. In fact, 

children are more likely to respect trees if they 

plant and care for them, observing them as 

they grow and bloom (Viana, 1999). Other 

studies have showed that playing in nature 

during the early years forms children into 

environmentally responsible adults (Chawla, 

2015; Broom, 2017). 

Outdoor educational programs can be 

used to promote nature experiences with a 

positive impact. These interactions stimulate 

participants’ curiosity, sense of empathy for 

creatures, responsibility for and unity with 

nature (Dienno and Hilton, 2005), and are 

also related to children’s problem-solving 

capacities and emotional and intellectual 

development (Kellert, 2012). Outdoor family 

activities can play an important role in 

exploration and discovery, leading to new 

knowledge acquisition by members of all ages 

in an easy and pleasant way (Nadelson, 2013). 

A study conducted by Laaksoharju and Rappe 

(2017) showed that children’s (7 to 12 years 

old) use of trees in urban spaces increased 

gradually as their connection with such 

spaces developed after a garden camp. Trees 

provided materials, play space, and activities 

that responded to children’s needs.

Additionally, contact with nature has been 

shown to improve physical and mental health 

by reducing stress and pain (Kohlleppel et 

al., 2002; Tsunetsugu et al., 2007; Karjalainen 

et al., 2010). These studies give consistent 

evidence that human bodies and minds 

evolved simultaneously and interdependently. 

Hinds (2011) proposed that wonderment 

with the environment allows an individual to 

experience an uncomplicated state of mind, 

similar to “mindfulness.” This psychological 

process is commonly defined as a certain 

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way of paying attention, in which attention is 

purposefully and non-judgmentally brought 

to the present experience on a moment-

to-moment basis (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). This 

approach enhances the impact of experiences 

in nature and strengthens connectedness to 

nature (Howell et al., 2011). Several potential 

benefits are associated to mindfulness 

practice, such as increased body awareness, 

vitality, levels of concentration, productivity, 

creativity, and the ability to recognize and 

accept thoughts and emotions; reduced stress 

and anxiety levels; better overall emotional 

well-being and sleep; increased self-awareness 

and ability to challenge habitual thoughts and 

reactions to situations; and improved overall mental 

and physical health (Brown and Ryan, 2003). 

Despite an apparent increase in understanding 

the role of trees in promoting both human 

and ecological health, and in representing 

opportunities for social interactions and 

behaviors (Coley et al., 1997), the specific use 

of the term “monumental tree” has not been 

developed in detail. These ideas underpinned 

the development of this project in which the 

link between botany and the mindfulness 

approach is used to develop science-

awareness programs about monumental trees. 

The programs combine botanical exploration 

with mindfulness activities that increase 

concentration and favor a connection of the 

participants to the surroundings, with the 

intention of contributing to an increase in 

interest and curiosity about monumental 

trees, in particular those located in common 

green spaces of an urban city. This project 

aims to prevent “plant blindness” and, 

simultaneously, to promote intergenerational 

learning in botanical exploration, specifically 

through the exploration of a specific group of 

trees, so-called “monumental trees,” a category 

often largely ignored by the population. 

Thus, this study contributes to the literature 

on science communication by analyzing 

practical and theoretical methodologies on 

family programs in the context of non-formal 

learning settings, as well as assessing the 

effects of botanical guided walks on children 

and adults’ pro-environmental attitudes and 

their emotions and intentions with regard 

to monumental trees. The tasks carried out 

allowed interaction between participants as 

well as stimulated curiosity and the spirit of 

discovery. Participants were encouraged to 

hug a tree, walk in silence, listen to the sounds 

of nature, observe and describe organisms 

supported by the trees, measure a tree, and/or 

describe an emotion or feeling. 

Our study aimed to: (1) reduce “plant 

blindness” in children and adults, especially 

in relation to trees with monumental features; 

(2) promote botany to a non-specialist public, 

in a non-formal learning setting; (3) enhance 

recognition of scientific education and literacy 

for their contribution to the preservation of 

communities’ cultural and natural heritage; 

and (4) develop botanical and mindfulness 

activities, in outdoor contexts, as a way of 

sparking interest and knowledge in botany, 

and monumental trees in particular.



Activity setting
The project “Monumental Trees: Walk to 

Well-Being” was developed within the context 

of a nationwide Summer Science Program, 

promoted by Ciência Viva - Portuguese 

Agency for Scientific and Technological 

Culture. The sessions were carried out in the 

city of Coimbra, located in the center region 

of Portugal, and were included in the Events 

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of the Exploratório - Coimbra Science Center, 

in partnership with the Psychology Workshop 

Center. Four sessions were held over two days 

(26 July and 19 August 2015). Due to the 

methodological approach used, the number 

of people in each group was restricted to 15 

people per session to enable greater quality 

of interaction. All participants agreed to 

participate in the study on a voluntary basis, 

after they were given a detailed explanation 

of the investigation around participant 

interactions with monumental trees. 

Preparation of the activity
The botanical guided walk was prepared by 

a researcher and a psychologist, involving 

a systematic and critical review of research 

on botanical programs and outdoor 

learning activities. Thirteen urban trees with 

monumental features were selected to be 

the focus of the outdoor learning activities 

(Figure 1) in different green spaces in the city 

of Coimbra. The trees were close enough to 

complete guided walk of 0.93 miles (1.5 km) 

over a period of three hours. 













Figure 1Monumental trees selected  for the outdoor learning activities: (A) Platanus x his-

panica; (B) Magnolia grandiflora; (C) Araucaria heterophylla; (D) Cycas revoluta; (E) Tipuana 

tipu and Jacaranda mimosifolia (both species planted along one avenue)(F) Cupressus lusitan-

ica; (G) Laurus nobilis; (H) Araucaria bidwilli; (I) Ginkgo biloba; (J) Liriodendron tulipifera; 

(K) Erythrina crista-galli; and (L) Ficus macrophylla. All photographs by Raquel Pires Lopes 


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Activities approach

Tree species per stop

Specific aspects



Platanus x hispanica 

(Mill.) Münchh

Aesthetic, scientific and 



(a)“Dendrometric data”

(f)  “Respiration through 

cardiac coherence

(g) “Breathe deeply

Magnolia grandiflora L.

Araucaria heterophylla 

(Salisb.) Franco

Cycas revoluta Thunb.

Aesthetic, age, scientific 

and dendrometric


(a)“Dendrometric data” 

(d) “Living fossil”

Tipuana tipu (Benth




Jacaranda mimosifolia 

D. Don

Aesthetic and cultural 


(b) “Observe treetops

Cupressus lusitanica L. 

Laurus nobilis L.

Dendrometric and  

cultural aspect

High representativeness

(a) “Dendrometric data”; 

(b) “Drawing a tree 

bark”; “Observe tree-

tops”; “Discovers the 

smell of trees”

(h)“Awakening sounds and 


(i)“Explore  the  five  sens-


Araucaria bidwilli Juss. “Trees of Public Inter-

est” by Portuguese Law

(e)  “10 rules to visit 

monumental trees without 


Ginkgo biloba L.

Liriodendron tulipifera 


Erythrina crista-galli


Age, dendrometric, sci-

entific,  historic,  cultural 

and aesthetic


(a)  “Hug a tree”; “Tree 


(c)  “2000 species in a 

tree, let’s find them!”; 

(d) “Living fossil”

(j) “Grounding

Ficus macrophylla 

Desf. ex Pers.

Dendrometric aspect

(k) “Tree of Emotions”

Table 1. Trees explored and activities performed during the botanical guided walk “Monumental 

Trees: Walk to Well-Being”

Apart from their location, the selection reflects 

the diversity of trees within the city as well 

as their natural, scientific, historical, cultural, 

aesthetic, and ethnobotanical importance over 

time. All trees chosen for the guided walk are 

considered monumental trees and some have 

even become legally protected by Portuguese 

Law, becoming “Trees of Public Interest.” 

Ginkgo biloba,  Liriodendron tulipifera, and 

Erythrina crista-galli, located at Botanical 

Garden of the University of Coimbra, also 

have specific legal protection (Table 1).


utdoor learning activities were selected 

taking into account the tree species, their 

significance,  and  the  spaces  explored.  The 

hands-on and minds-on activities that were 

developed encouraged direct contact with the 

botanical elements, using the five senses. 

At three of the stops, mindfulness activities 

were introduced to complement the botanical 

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activities. These methodologies determined 

the development of tasks to promote 

connectivity and proximity between monitors, 

participants, trees, and the spaces explored 

(Table 2).
“Tree of Emotions” Data Collection 


Instrument and Analysis
This study employed a qualitative research 

design using researchers’ observations and 

semi-structured interviews with open-ended 

questions assessed through content analysis 

collected during the “Tree of Emotions” 

exercise, completed at the end of the session 

at each guided walk. During this activity, 

participants were asked to choose which of 

the 13 trees explored reflected four different 

emotions—joy, fear, sadness, and love—

according to their individual exploration 

during the guided walk. We chose this final 

exercise to gather participants’ observations 

during the botanical guided walk and to 

determine attitudes, opinions, perceptions, 

and knowledge about the monumental trees 

explored along the different stops. An excerpt 

from our interview is provided below: 

Researcher (R): “What feeling (joy, fear, 

sadness, and love) do you associate to the 

trees explored and why? 
Child (C): “The leaves have a similar 

format to a cat face, that I like” 

[Liriodendron tulipifera]

(C): “They have funny fruit” [Jacaranda 


Adult (A): “They have a festive name 

[Jacaranda mimosifolia

(A): “The happiness in seeing my children 

play around” [Liriodendron tulipifera]

(C): “It is hunchbacked like an old man” 

[Erythrina crista-galli]

(C): “It seems afraid and embraces other 

trees [Ficus macrophylla]  

(A): “I’m afraid that giant pine cones fall 

on me [Araucaria bidwilli]

(A): “Flowers attract many bees that I am 

afraid of [Liriodendron tulipifera]
(C): “It seems sad and needs a hug 

[Erythrina crista-galli]

(C): “It is old, and has a big hollow log… 

It looks very sad [Erythrina crista-galli

(A): “The tree is incomplete with a hollow 

log, it has died back  [Erythrina crista-


(A): “The trunk color is not festive [Ficus 

(C): “Is like a house, I fit in it [Erythrina 


(C): “Two leaves together are a heart 

[Ginkgo biloba

(A): “A plant that provides shelter 

and food to many beings, promoting 

biodiversity and this is a manifestation of 

the ‘love of nature’ sharing for all living 

beings [Liriodendron tulipifera]

(A): “Because of its medicinal properties, 

which makes us well, like love [does] 

[Ginkgo biloba]

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Botanical Activity



Dendrometric data”; “Hug a tree” 

Determining  certain dendrometric parameters re-

lated to size, height, and age using measuring in-

struments (tape measure, rope) or by hugging.

Tree ID

Filling out a document about the tree data (e.g., sci-

entific name, common name, dendrometric param-

eters, leaf shape, bark).


“Drawing tree bark; “Observe treetops”; 

“Discover the smell of trees”

Analyzing particular features about the trees.


“2,000 species in a tree, let’s find them!”

Stimulating scientific curiosity through the explo-

ration of botanical elements.


 “Living fossil”

Stimulating scientific curiosity through the explo-

ration of their ecological importance.


“10 rules to visit monumental trees without 


Exploring the parameters that are used for “Trees 

of Public Interest” in accordance with Portuguese 

legislation, and the rules to visit them.

Mindfulness Activity



“Respiration through cardiac coherence”

Breathing technique to promote the balanced com-

munication between the heart and the brain, help-

ing to avoid negative feelings.


“Breathe deeply”

Focusing on the sensations of breathing, getting off 

autopilot to become aware of the present moment.


“Awakening sounds and breaths”

Closing the eyes to relax and feel the sensations 

present, such as breathing, as well as expand the 

focus of attention to surrounding sounds.


“Explore the five senses”

Using the five senses to explore the trees (e.g., feel 

different textures and scents, observe components 

of each tree).



Feeling the importance and the necessity of stabil-

ity and rooting either trees and humans.

Botanical and Mindfulness Activity



“Tree of Emotions”

Choosing a tree along the path that can be identi-

fied with certain emotions (joy, sadness, anger, and 

fear). These emotions are experienced throughout 

our lives constituting the inner signs of our body.

Table 2. Description of the activities performed during the botanical guided walk “Monumen-

tal Trees: Walk to Well-Being.”

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Responses were recorded by the three 

researchers during the collective sessions, 

and notes were later discussed. 


key monumental tree concepts were analyzed 

and categorized through interpretive research


by four researchers, two specializing in 

psychology and two in biology. The researchers 

validated the answers collected in a collective 

discussion. The 

process was repeated to add or 

discard new coding. This 

procedure involved 

all the researchers. Tables were created to 

present and categorization all answers given.
Approximately 39% (n = 23) of the 59 

participants in the Science Summer Program 

were children aged 2 to 16 years old. Adults 

between the ages of 21 to 71 years old made 

up 61% (n = 36) of the participants in the 



The results presented were obtained from 

the answers collected during the “Tree of 

Emotions” exercise. From 236 answers 

expected (4 questions to 59 participants), 

a total of 141 answers were obtained (60% 

response rate): 117 from adults (83%) and 24 

from children (17%). Non-response was lower 

in adults (28%) than children (72%). This may 

be explained by the fact that some children 

felt embarrassed of speaking in public or 

preferred not to answer. In some cases, the 

whole family worked together in filling the 

brochure for the guided walk and then one of 

the adults was the speaker.
Categories emerging from the “Tree of 

Emotions” activity 
During analysis of the 141 answers obtained 

in the “Tree of Emotions” exercise, key 

monumental tree concepts identified by 

participants were analyzed and categorized 

into qualitative categories. Seven categories 

of concepts emerged and were useful for 

grouping participants’ answers (Table 3). 

Each answer could have elements that were 

grouped into more than one category since the 

overall response reflected several interesting 

ideas and concepts. In this way, the database 

is richer. 

Both children and adults justified their 

answers using subjective, affective, and well-

being–related aspects with positive and 

negative feelings (43% of adult and 28% of 

child responses). Some observations showed 

concern about physical damage to trees 

caused by human activity (e.g., “I was sad to 

see roots damaged by works on the roadside”), 

dripping sap, or the attraction of insects. 

Better informed participants also focused on 

certain problems of particular concern, such 

as the proliferation of invasive and exotic 

plants (e.g., “I saw some invasive trees in the 

Mermaid’s Garden and it scares me because 

they will not give space to our species”). 

Participants also frequently mentioned 

morphological features of the trees (19% 

of adult and 28% of child responses). For 

example, many participants noticed the giant 

cones of Araucaria bidwillii, the flowers of 

Magnolia grandiflora, Jacaranda mimosifolia, 

and Liriodendron tulipifera, and the leaves of 

Ginkgo biloba and Liriodendron tulipifera). 

Both adults and children also mentioned the 

oldest tree found on the walk, Erythrina crista-

galli, which is over 200 years old and has a big 

hole in the trunk contributing to its dieback.

Analysis of the results shows that ornamental 

and aesthetic value of trees in urban landscapes 

(14%) and cultural aspects (6%) only 

occurred in answers from adults. Biological 

and environmental values occur in 9% of 

all participants’ answers. Regarding cultural 

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Table 3. Representative examples of excerpts from the answers given and emerging categories 

from the question “What feeling (…) do you associate to the trees explored and why?” from 

the exercise “Tree of Emotions”.




Children (C) Adult (A)


Excerpts from the answers 


Ornamental and 


Related to tree’s pres-

ence in the landscape, 

by  adding shape and 

beauty through their 

flowers, fruits, or oth-

er seasonal aesthetic 




(A):  “They give us shade”; 

“Common in parks and gar-

dens”; “Form very beautiful 

malls where I like to walk”; 

“Are pruned”; “Makes the city 

beautiful”; “Very common in 

Portugal”; “Have an ornamen-

tal  use”;  “Beautifies  the  gar-


Subjective, affec-

tive, and well-being 

Reflects  individuals’ 

thoughts and feelings 

(good and bad), life 

satisfaction, sense of 

home and family and 

their own life experi-

ences, by the combi-

nation of cognitive 

judgments and affec-

tive reactions



(C): “They have fun leaves”; 

“I don’t like cats”; “Gives me 

fear”; “Seems to be very sad”; 

“Fun fruit”; “The leaves look 

like a heart”

(A): “It has a festive name”; 

“It has leaves like cats and I 

don’t like them”; “I am afraid of 

bees”; “I am afraid that a cone 

would  fall on me”; “It gives 

me pity  to  look at it”; “I feel 

sad”; “I have affection for it”; 

“It transmits fear to me”; The 

happiness of seeing my children 

play around”; “It reminds me of 

my childhood”; “Gives me joy”


Related with the sym-

bolic value of trees, 

and sense of commu-

nity that they inspire 



(A): “When blooming,  it  is a 

landmark of the city”; “A strong 

connection to the city and its stu-

dents”; “The fl owers have the col-

ors of the flag”; “It reminds me of 

a cemetery and death” 

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Related with age 

and physical char-

acteristics such as 

habit, shape, and tree 

measurements (Cir-

cumference at Breast 

Height [DBH], height 

or canopy dimension) 



(C): “It is too old”; “Too big”; 


ecause it is old and has a huge 

hole"; “It’s huge”

(A): “Size”; “The oldest tree 

we know”; “It is curved”;  “It’s 

huge”; “Too big”; “Is very old” 


When  description of 

botanical elements 

such as roots, trunk, 

bark,  leaves,  flowers, 

fruits, or seeds are 

present in the answers 



(C): “The tips are separated (trunk 

and branches)”; “The leaves have a 

similar format to a cat face”; “They 

have different leaves

(A): “Giant cones”; “Trunk color”; 

Great growth”; “Big fruit size”; 

Golden leaves”; “Hollow log

Biological and  


Associated with the 

ecological functions 

of trees, also related 

with promotion of 

biodiversity and me-

dicinal properties



(C): “Grabs other plants”; 

Roots falling

(A): “Filtering air pollut-

ants”; “Survived the Hiroshi-

ma bomb”; “Choke”; “It has 

a  chemical substance that can 

paralyse the body”; “They have 

poisonIt looks dead”; “They 

kill trees around them”; “Trees 

that  give  shelter and food to 

many beings, this is a manifesta-

tion of nature’s love”; “With me-

dicinal properties”; “Pigmenta-

tion of leaves”; “Sap drips


When trees are  per-

sonified and attribut-

ed human features



(C): “Hunchbacked like an old 

man”; “Needs a hug”; “Seems 

afraid and embraces the other 

(A): “Seems to cry”; “Selfish, 

looks like an octopus”; “It has 

bad behaviors,  like many peo-


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Figure 2.  Seven conceptual categories in participants’ answers to the “Tree of Emotions”  

activity: 117 for adults (A) and 24 for children (C).

aspects of the trees, we found a connection 

between tree species and the city, which has 

an impact on local people. For example, when 

Tipuana tipu and Jacaranda mimosifolia are 

flowering, they have the colors of the city flag. 

Further, Liriodendron tulipifera was frequently 

referred to as “Árvore do ponto” (“Exam tree”), 

with a national reference as common name, 

because past university examination periods 

coincided with the flowering of this species. 

Other adult answers reflected dendrometric 

data (6%) and anthropomorphic features (3%).  

Besides morphological aspects, children’s 

answers focused on anthropomorphic features 

(24%), where trees take on human traits. The 

descriptions were so realistic that one can 

even identify the tree despite no indication 

of a name. Children’s answers also revealed 

dendrometric features (16%), such as size and 

height of the trees, for instance. Fewer answers 

reflected biological and environmental values 

(4%). None of the children’s answers reflected 

ornamental and aesthetic or cultural aspects 

(Figure 2).


The activities used in this study achieved a 

dynamic, cooperative, and playful learning 

involvement between children, their families, 

and the trees and places explored. The time 

provided to participants generated greater 

awareness and a more effective appropriation 

of the activity, according to the principles of 


A large majority of participants were able to 

associate the emotions (joy, fear, sadness, and 

love) to the trees explored during the guided 

walk, and we were able to group the answers into 

seven categories (ornamental and aesthetic; 

subjective, affective, and well-being; cultural; 

dendrometric; morphological; biological 

and environmental; and anthropomorphic). 

The answers revealed the use of information 

provided during the botanical guided walk 

and were rich and different between the two 

groups of participants. This can be explained 

by the differences in age, life experiences, 

and cognitive development. In the case of the 

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anthropomorphism category, for instance, the 

participants’ descriptions were very realistic 

and adapted to their respective ages. In the 

children’s answers, there seemed to be a naïve 

perception, while adult responses seemed to 

reflect human behavior. These observations on 

anthropomorphism are in line with previous 

research that showed that trees are often seen 

as carrying symbolic meaning (Appleyard, 

1980, as cited in Dwyer et al., 1991). 

For both groups, the most common answers 

were in the subjective, affective, and well-

being category. Participants’ responses 

about the monumental trees evoked both 

positive and negative emotional reactions. 

Exploration and discovery of the trees fired 

the imagination and emotions of participants, 

as Blicharska and Mikusiński (2014) showed, 

but also caused loathing or association with 

beauty or ugliness, which reflects a cognitive, 

sensory, and individual perception about the 

tree and the place around. These results are 

consistent with previous studies about public 

perception of street trees. In the Schroeder 

and Cannon (1983) investigation, trees were 

considered the most important element 

of urban green spaces, with good and bad 

impacts to the general public. Dwyer et al. 

(1991) showed the significance of urban 

trees and forests to urban residents. Further, 

Lohr and Pearson-Mims (2006) found that 

people prefer scenes that have trees more than 

scenes that have inanimate objects, and have 

more positive emotions when viewing trees 

compared to inanimate objects. Some of the 

occurrences of negative emotions, such as 

the sadness or fear associated to trees, were 

deliberately used as discussion topics with the 

aim of demystifying certain conceptions and 

generalized ideas without a scientific basis in 

order to help people to notice and engage with 

plants. In addition, in most of the occurrences 

of negative emotions, these were expressed 

through displays of concern for the trees and 

not negative emotions in relation to the trees 

themselves, which is a good indicator that the 

activities are on the right track to counteract 

the plant blindness phenomenon.

Regarding the presence of big trees, adults 

were impressed by their dimension, shape, 

and ornamental (e.g., shadow, beauty) and 

environmental importance (e.g., shade, air 

renewal). They also showed concern towards 

trees’ abiotic (e.g., shading of buildings by trees), 

biotic (e.g., bees), and anthropogenic (e.g., 

root damage, pruning) impacts. Adjectives 

(e.g.,  “attractive”, “decorative”, “beautiful”) 

were often used to describe ornamental 

and aesthetic features of trees (e.g., canopy, 

flowers, leaves). These observations seem to 

be consistent with a past study that found that 

larger and older trees are the most attractive 

to the public (Schroeder and Cannon, 1983). 

Dwyer et al. (1991) also showed that streets 

with mostly large, old trees of a single species 

may appear attractive, but they are susceptible 

to sudden loss of scenic value due to damage, 

pests, and breakage and may be costlier to 

maintain, such as the Emerald Ash Borer, and 

its extensive mortality of ash (Fraxinus spp.) 

(Liu, 2017). In a more recent study, a survey 

conducted in Morelia, Mexico, revealed that 

people prefer tall, leafy, and shady trees and 

consider that trees were beneficial to them, 

and for the city, by improving environmental 

quality, and aesthetically improving the 

landscape (Camacho-Cervantes et al., 2014). 

Despite previous studies stating that air quality 

is less immediately perceptible than other 

physical benefits, such as reduced noise and 

wind speed (Schroeder et al., 2006), responses 

given by adults reflect trees’ capacity to filter 

air pollutants. Additionally, there seems to 

be a strong environmental concern in the 

importance attributed to trees’ representation 

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of biodiversity since plants, animals, and other 

organisms depend on them. 

Researchers also noticed that participants 

paid more attention to colorful tree species, 

which was consistent with Kaufman and 

Lohr (2004), who demonstrated that people 

respond more positively to plants of some 

colors than others. Some botanical features 

could not be observed on the trees, although 

adults nonetheless recognized the species by 

their characteristic elements (e.g., flowers, 

fruits). Such absence of seasonal features 

sparked a discussion on the importance of 

repeating the botanical exploration in other 

seasons, namely spring, fall, or even during the 

winter, to give participants the opportunity to 

recognize the changes of the plant during the 

year (Schreck Reis et al., 2014).  

Cupressus sempervirens was not explored, 

but the columnar shape of the species was 

mentioned during the guided walk. This 

species was associated with sadness, since it 

is traditionally used in cemeteries. Several 

studies showed that people exhibit positive 

emotional and physiological experiences in 

their responses to trees in general or to trees 

with wide, spreading, and globular canopies 

(Dwyer et al., 1991; Lohr and Pearson-

Mims, 2006). Crown shape and density were 

important parameters mirroring human 

preference of large spreading street trees 

rather than columnar trees in Germany 

(Gerstenberg and Hofmann, 2016). This 

investigation also showed that a high, two-

dimensional crown size to trunk height ratio 

and a high crown density could be used 

to predict people’s preferences regarding 

deciduous trees (Gerstenberg and Hofmann, 


Passive observation and active exploration 

contribute to building positive memories of 

trees and certain notions about them. These 

also contribute to improving values and 

attitudes and to developing environmental 

responsibility within a family context.  Such 

activities are a key component for increasing 

scientific literacy interactions, and have 

been recommended in several studies (e.g., 

Drissner et al. 2010; Nadelson 2013; Schreck 

Reis et al., 2014).  

As Dwyer et al. (1991) ask, (1) “How many 

remember a big tree in front of their parents 

or grandparents home, and the deep sense of 

loss when it was removed?”; (2) “How many 

individuals have planted a tree as a child 

and watched it mature as they did?”; and (3) 

“[How many remember] planting trees as 

‘living memorials’ to remember loved ones?” 

(Dwyer et al., 1991, p. 277). A good example 

of this was a mother with two children 

that had previously participated in other 

summer science programs related to trees, 

due to her children’s interest. The example 

given is consistent with the Neiman and 

Ades (2014) study, suggesting that outdoor 

programs promote emotional affinity, giving 

an individual a concrete memory and a 

change in attitude for a long time after the 

activity. Furthermore, as Lohr and Pearson-

Mims (2005) have already showed, childhood 

experiences with nature influence adult 

sensitivity to trees, and that influence is very 


Participant answers also revealed their 

memories of trees were related to daily life. 

Some of them, living in Coimbra, mentioned 

that it was a pleasure to rediscover trees 

present in their everyday lives that they had 

never looked at with enough attention. They 

also said that, from that day forward, they felt 

that they would pay closer attention to those 

trees. This observation is consistent with other 

studies (Dwyer et al., 1991; Sanders, 2007) 

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that have shown the importance of using 

everyday learning contexts as an opportunity 

for children and their families to interact with 

trees and the places in which they live.

During the final reflection, several participants 

mentioned that pauses during the guided 

walk were a way of “relaxing,” and allowed 

them to “be calmer and become involved 

with the space and each other.” Our results 

are consistent with Mullaney et al. (2015), 

who observed that, besides the aesthetics and 

provision of shade, most residents prefer the 

calming effect of the trees. In fact, combining 

mindfulness practice with direct contact with 

trees, not limited to a theoretical presentation 

of  scientific  subjects,  allowed  a  greater 

focus on and connection to the green spaces 

explored. This approach can be a powerful 

tool toward facilitating a more effective 

interaction between people and natural 

elements,  contributing to increased interest 

and curiosity in monumental trees.


Our experimental study has contributed to 

filling a gap in outdoor learning programs 

by using monumental trees to reduce “plant 

blindness.” In addition, the project used 

intergenerational interaction between 

children and their parents to explore 

innovative methodologies for addressing 

botanical themes, at the same time using a 

mindfulness approach to promote well-being. 

The aim of the study, to explore monumental 

trees, was also innovative since there is a lack 

of studies about public interaction with this 

specific group of trees. On the other hand, 

monumental trees and other plants are present 

in all cities and are often unnoticed. 

The explorations carried out helped 

participants to notice and engage with plants, 

thereby sparking interest and increasing 

knowledge about them. If positive emotions 

demonstrate appreciation, care, and attention 

toward the plants, negative emotions such as 

pity and suffering for the trees themselves also 

show concern and appreciation for plants. That 

is, negative aspects pointed out reveal positive 

outcomes with regards to the objective of the 

study: the prevention of the plant blindness 

phenomenon. Aspects related to insensitivity 

or contempt for plants were not observed. 

Methods applied in the study (hands-on 

and minds-on activities, open-public spaces, 

botanical and mindfulness approaches) 

contribute to providing participants with an 

opportunity to create a more positive attitude 

toward plants and, specifically, monumental 

trees. Our methodology was consistent 

with previous studies and can be adapted to 

investigate how attitudes toward trees vary 

through a science program, even such a 

short-term program as this one. Our survey 

results support a positive overall assessment 

of trees and botanical subjects. Contact with 

participants provided important feedback 

used to measure strategies and adjustments of 

the project, to be applied in further sessions. 

Our findings provide increased understanding 

in our efforts to counter the plant blindness 

phenomenon by showing the interest of 

non-specialist public in educational science 

awareness experiences as a way of sparking 

interest and sharing knowledge in botany. 

Further research on outdoor activities 

in formal, non-formal, and informal 

learning applied to direct experiences with 

monumental trees and on how to improve 

the public’s knowledge about that matter is 

needed in the future.  

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Schroeder, H. W., and W. N. Cannon. 1983. The 

esthetic contribution of trees to residential streets 

in Ohio towns. Jounal of Arboriculture 9: 237-


Schroeder, H., J. Flannigan, and R. Coles. 2006. 

Residents’ Attitudes Toward Street Trees in the 

UK and US communities. Arboriculture and Ur-

ban Forestry 32: 236-246. 

Stephenson, N. L., A. J. Das, R. Condit, S. E. Rus-

so, P. J. Baker, N. G. Beckman, D. A. Coomes, et 

al. 2014. Rate of tree carbon accumulation increases 

continuously with tree size. Nature 507: 90-93. 

Tsunetsugu, Y., B. J. Park, H. Ishii, H. Hirano, T. 

Kagawa, and Y. Miyazaki. 2007. Physiological ef-

fects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the atmosphere of 

the forest) in an old-growth broadleaf forest in Ya-

magata Prefecture, Japan. Journal of Physiologi-

cal Anthropology 26: 135-142.

Van  der  Hoek, Y.,  G. V.  Gaona,  and  K.  Martin. 

2017. The diversity, distribution and conservation 

status of the tree-cavity nesting birds of the world. 

Diversity and Distributions 23: 1120–1131.

Viana, M. 1999. Environmental education: tech-

nical staff and their critical confrontation with the 

science curricula of 5 and 7 years of basic educa-

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University of Aveiro: Department of Educational 

Teaching - Department of Biology - Department 

of Geosciences.

Wandersee, J. H., and E. E. Schussler, E. 2001. 

Toward a theory of plant blindness. Plant Science 

Bulletin 47: 2-9.

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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


2019 BESSEY  



This year the BSA recognized Dr. Suzanne 

Koptur, Professor at Florida International 

University, with the Charles Edwin Bessey 

Teaching Award. This award recognizes 

outstanding contributions made to botanical 

instruction and celebrates individuals 

whose work has improved the quality of 

botanical education at a regional, national, or 

international level. The Bessey Award is the 

highest honor for Teaching and Educational 

Outreach given by the Botanical Society of 


Suzanne has been an active member of the 

BSA since graduate school. She has presented 

over 40 papers at BSA conferences over the 

years, both ecological and educational, and 

Education News and Notes

is a member of the Teaching, Ecology, and 

Tropical Biology sections. 

Suzanne is a clear fit with the qualities 

recognized by the Charles Edwin Bessey 

Teaching Award. During her career she has 

mentored an exceptional number of graduate 

and undergraduate students, including 

many from groups under-represented in 

the sciences. She actively seeks funding to 

provide early opportunities for her students, 

providing opportunities for undergraduate 

researchers to join her and her graduate 

students in the lab and field, supporting and 

encouraging them to attend and present at 

botanical meetings, and to be involved in 

the PLANTS mentoring program and other 

career-building opportunities. In 2017 she 

was awarded the FIU University Graduate 

Student Provost Award for Mentorship of 

Graduate Students, which recognized her 

mentoring efforts. One of her former students 

writes: “Through her vocation to training the 

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next generation of botanists, she has left a 

lasting legacy. Every one of us that has had the 

great fortune in having Suzanne as a teacher 

will go forth as emissaries for science, creating 

a ripple effect that will spread her passion for 

plants far and wide throughout the world.”

Suzanne is an active and engaged teacher who 

embraces new teaching techniques like active 

learning, flipped courses, and online teaching. 

She was active in creating a new FIU initiative, 

Quantifying Biology in the Classroom 

(QBIC), to help biology students develop 

quantitative skills to help them succeed. She 

served as the QBIC director from 2012 to 

2016, and continues to serve this program as 

co-director. She contributes to the research 

on teaching and has made great impact 

in developing and supporting a culture of 

teaching innovation within her department.

In addition to her work at FIU, she is active 

in community outreach. She has been a 

supporter and proponent of Fairchild Tropical 

Botanic Garden’s Connect to Protect program 

encouraging citizens and schools to help create 

habitat corridors between the endangered 

South Florida Pine Rocklands. 

She has worked with local schools to 

build butterfly gardens, organizes several 

conferences that bring researchers and natural 

resource management professionals together, 

and serves on county committees to develop 

conservation initiatives. 

The Bessey Award is given annually in honor 

of one of the great developers of botanical 

education, Dr. Charles Edwin Bessey. Dr. 

Bessey served first as professor of botany and 

horticulture, and later as dean at the University 

of Nebraska. His work and dedication 

to improving the educational aspects of 

Botany are most noted in what Nebraskans 

call “The Bessey Era” (1886-1915), during 

which Nebraska developed an extraordinary 

program in botany and ranked among the 

top five schools in the United States for the 

number of its undergraduates who became 

famous botanists.

Past Bessey award winners include: Lena 

Struwe, J. Phil Gibson, Bruce K. Kirchoff, 

Shona Ellis, Paul H. Williams, Les Hickock 

and Thomas R. Warne, Susan Singer, Geoff 

Burrows, Chris Martine, Roger Hangarter, 

Beverly Brown, Michael Pollan, Thomas Rost, 

James Wandersee, W. Hardy Eshbaugh, David 

W. Lee, Donald Kaplan, Joseph Novak, William 

Jensen, Joseph E. Armstrong, Marshall D. 

Sundberg, Gordon Uno, Barbara W. Saigo and 

Roy H. Saigo, and Samuel Noel Postlethwait.









“I wanted to get in contact with school kids, 

because I think this is a great time—if you 

want to do science communication, this is a 

great age to get students engaged in science.” 

– PlantingScience Liaison

Graduate students and post-doctoral 

researchers: does mentoring with 

PlantingScience sound exciting to you? Do 

you have good communication skills already 

and some experience with or a strong interest 

in helping secondary students and teachers?  

If so, consider serving as a teacher/scientist 

liaison as part of our Master Plant Science 

Team. We provide training in what it takes to 

excel as an online mentor and reveal behind-

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the-scenes aspects of how the program works. 

First, you’ll get to mentor several teams to learn 

the ropes and practice mentoring with diverse 

groups of students. Then you are paired with 

one of our participating teachers to help the 

teacher get the most from the program, make 

sure the teacher’s mentors get the classroom 

and scheduling context they need to be good 

mentors, and helping to keep the student/

scientist conversations going strong. It is an 

excellent opportunity to see how a variety of 

mentoring styles play out with students and a 

powerful way to develop your own mentoring 

and communication style. Liaisons make the 

program possible! In exchange for your extra 

help, we sponsor your BSA membership for 

the year and provide a 50% discount off of 

meeting registration. Learn more and apply 

(by August 11):


Trying to decide if this opportunity is for 

you? Join us at the PlantingScience Reception 

Monday at Botany 2019 to learn more about 

the  program.  You’ll  meet  mentors  and 

former MPST members who can share their 

experiences working with PlantingScience.

You can also take a look at the PlantingScience 

Star Project Gallery to see examples of the 

work of PlantingScience student teams and 

the conversations they had with their scientist 

mentors over the course of their project:


Many thanks to the following 2018-2019 BSA-

sponsored  MPSTs  for their hard work and 


Ioana Anghel, Alina Avanesyan, 

Liming Cai, Ghana S. Challa, Foong Lian 

Chee, Mason Kamalani Chock, Aayudh Das, 

Kelsey Fisher, Laura Klein, Joshua Kraft, Jill 

Marzolino, Angela McDonnell, Molly Ng, 

Funmilola Mabel Ojo, Mischa Olson, Carlos 

J.  Pasiche-Lisboa, Kelly Pfeiler, Christina 

Scara, Jaime Schwoch, Elizabeth Scott, 

Nicolette Sipperly, Elizabeth Stunz, and 

Lauren Elizabeth Whitehurst.



Check out cool teaching resources that have 

just been release on BSA’s PlantEd Digital 

Library platform!

Tree Tender Supplemental  

Teaching Bundle



The short film Tree Tender (2016) follows a 

young woman, Gaia, becoming the newest 

Tree Tender, learning about the Tree of Life, 

the connections between all organisms on 

the Tree, the importance of understanding 

these connections, and the human-caused 

mass extinction currently occurring. Each 

of the major concepts is highlighted in this 

bundle of educational resources appropriate 

for both K-12 and Undergraduate Education. 

All materials will assist in increasing critical 

thinking and communication skills while 

connecting current events, events from the 

film, and scientific knowledge.

Login to PlantED to download resources:

Submit Your Teaching Ideas to PlantED:


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BOTANY 2019:  



Joining us in Tucson? Consider attending 

some of the many education, outreach, and 

training opportunities:

Sunday, July 28

• Workshop: Present your Work in Three 


• Workshop: Using HHMI Videos and 

Data Points as Tools for Engaging 

Students from Molecules to Ecosystems

• Workshop: Broadening Botanical 

Pathways in Teaching

• Workshop: Empowering Citizen Science 

Leaders with Tools for Robust Community 


• Workshop: Interdisciplinary Outreach 

through Botanical Data

• Workshop: Timing is Everything! Using 

Phenology to Stimulate Interest by 

Undergraduate Students in the Plant 

Sciences and Climate Change

• Workshop: Strategies for Successful 


Faculty/Undergraduate Student 

Collaborative Research at PUIs

• Monday, July 29

• Contributed Paper Session Education 

and Outreach I: Creating an Inclusive 

Experience in the Classroom and Across 

the Discipline

• Special Session: The Future of Botany: 

Educating for a Diverse and Inclusive 

Community in Botany

• Reception: PlantingScience Reception

Tuesday, July 30

• Contributed Paper Session Education and 

Outreach II

Wednesday, July 31

• Germinating Ideas: Lightning Talks

Looking forward to seeing many of you in 



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By Chelsea Pretz and Min Ya 

BSA Student Representatives

The annual Botany conference is nearly here! 

With  6  days  of  formal  talks,  dual  poster 

sessions, workshops, field trips, social events, 

networking,  and  more,  you’re  probably 

wondering  how  you  can  get  the  most  out 

of  this  year’s  experience.  Well,  don’t  worry 

because we’ve got you covered in our student-

focused guide below.


1. Finding a Roommate: Are you looking to 

save $$$ by splitting hotel costs at Botany 2019? 

Check out BSA’s nifty roommate finder tool at 

the  conference  site  at  http://images.botany.

org/housing/roommate.shtml.  It  can  be  a 

great way to connect with your peers, make 

new friends, and forge life-long professional 

connections.  Also,  for  more  information  on 

discounted hotel rates check out: http://www.

A Journey to the Southwest:  

A Student’s Guide for Botany 2019

2. Volunteer at the Conference: Did you know 

that you can earn your early registration fee 

back if you volunteer to assist BSA staff at the 

conference?  In  fact,  the  conference  couldn’t 

happen without the gracious help of students 

who  run  the  registration  booth,  monitor 

ticketed events, and make sure that sections, 

symposia,  and  colloquia  run  smoothly. 


long as you registered for the conference by 

May 31, you should have received the email 

requesting applications for student volunteers.  

When you work 10 hours at the conference as 

an  assistant,  you  earn  back  your  conference 

registration fee and will be reimbursed.

3. Plan ahead for Next Year’s Travel Grants

Although it is too late to apply for BSA-related 

travel grants this year, keep these opportunities 

on your radar for spring 2020! You can find 

a consolidated list of these awards as well as 

details  pertaining  to  them  online  at  http://




If  you  have  already  registered  for  Botany 

2019,  it  is  incredibly  easy  to  add  events 

to  your  conference  registration!  Navigate 

to  the  conference  website  at  http://www.  and  click  the  link 

“Register Online for Botany 2019”. Once you 

are  redirected  to  the  registration  page,  then 

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PSB 65 (2) 2019 










click “Modify Registration”. Please note that 

while some events are free, all of them are 

reasonably priced!  

 Saturday, July 27:   

Fun in the Field

Field trips: There are several field trips to 

get to know the area and other botanical 

professionals! These range from exploring the 

desert flora of the Tucson Mountains to Bats of 

Southern Arizona. BSA student members can 

be reimbursed up to $100 for this field trip, 

but this is on a first-come basis. Learn more 

about the field trips by visiting the conference 



Sunday, July 28:  



Every year at the Botany conference, Sunday 

is filled with many different opportunities 

to network and learn new skills. Below 

we highlight some of the student-

focused workshops, but for the full list, 

visit the conference website: http://www. 

Professional Writing: Covering Personal 

Statements, Research Statements, and 

Teaching Statements: This BSA Student Rep–

hosted workshop will be led by professionals 

that will provide an informational lecture, 

followed by time to work on an outline for one 

of these statements. (Free, but please register!)

Tips for Success: Applying to Graduate 

School:  Led by Anna Monfils, this is a 

panel discussion designed to introduce 

undergraduate students to the specific 

requirements for applying to graduate 

programs in plant biology. (Free, but please 


Undergraduate Student Networking Event: 

This is our third annual Undergraduate 

Student Networking Event, which will be held 

before the Plenary Lecture on Sunday evening 

(5:30 - 7:00 pm). This event was a great success 

last year! Not only will it provide attendees 

with an excellent opportunity to meet fellow 

undergrads, but it will also allow individuals to 

make some new friends/contacts to help them 

navigate through the rest of the conference. 

You’ll also get a chance to hear about different 

career paths! (Free – food will be included!)

Monday, July 29:   

Must-Attend Events

Student Involvement in Botany Luncheon – 

A Focus on Botanical Career Opportunities: 

What can you do with a degree in botany? 

Make sure that you are present at the annual 

Student Luncheon to find out! We will kick off 

the event with a short talk from our keynote 

speaker, Dr. Betsy Arnold, who is a professor 

at the University of Arizona and the curator 

of the RLG Mycological Herbarium. Then, 

you will get a chance to chat with panelists 

from various career paths in a “speed-dating” 

format. FYI: the panelists usually have insider 

information on open positions for graduate 

school or careers. ($10 - includes a catered 


Student Social and Networking Event: This 

year's event, sponsored in part by the BSA 

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PSB  65  (2)  2019        


publishing partner Wiley, will be held at the 

Playground in Tucson. More information on 

transportation will be provided closer to the 

event. Come catch up with old friends and 

meet new ones while enjoying craft brews and 

snacks. ($10 - includes a drink ticket)

Poster Session: Whether you are presenting 

your own work or just there to see what other 

people are working on, this is a great time to 

talk science, learn about cutting-edge plant 

research, and meet people! Poster sessions will 

happen on Monday, July 29. Be sure to check 

out a detailed schedule on the web at https:// or 

via the Botany Conference app, which will be 

available soon! (Free - no ticket required)


CV Review Sessions: Want to have your CV 

reviewed by someone with a lot of experience 

before you send it out for job/school 

application? Botany 2019 has got you covered 

this year! BSA has teamed up with other 

scientific societies to organize these review 

sessions. This will be a one-on-one review 

session where you can get feedback on your 

CV. This is completely free, but does require 

you to sign-up for a slot. Sign up here: https://



For most ticketed events, it’s not too late to 

register! Tickets for these events are easy to 

add to your conference registration: Navigate 

to the conference website at http://www. and click the link 

“Register Online for Botany 2019”. Once you 

are redirected to the registration page, click 

“Modify Registration”. You can also register 

for events at the registration booth once you 

arrive at the conference; however, events tend 

to fill up fast so plan accordingly!



Schedule Planner: With so many events 

occurring during the conference, planning 

each day can be a daunting task! However, 

with the Botany conference app, you will 

have the freedom to effortlessly browse talks 

and events as well as create your own easily 

accessible schedule to stay on track. The app 

for this year has not been released yet, so make 

sure to read your BSA newsletters that come 

via email and keep tabs on the conference 

website ( 

for more details!

Share your Botany experience: Social media 

allows you to share your experiences at the 

conference, and the number of tweets, posts, 

likes, and shares are growing every year. The 

social media aspect lets you share your photos 

and thoughts throughout the conference, 

and it can also be a way to share your work 

and increase your visibility. It’s a great way 

to see what is going on and keep tabs on all 

of your conference buddies! Be sure to use 

#Botany2019 in your posts!

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PSB 65 (2) 2019 











As  an  undergraduate  student  at  Howard 

University,  I  spent  three  years  researching 

the  genus  Rumex  in  a  plant  systematics 

lab  with  Dr.  Janelle  Burke.  During  this 

experience, I investigated sexual dimorphism 

and  phylogeography  to  better  understand 

the  evolutionary  history  of  Rumex.  Dr. 

Burke  encouraged  me  to  attend  a  Botany 

Conference,  and  to  apply  for  the  Preparing 

Leaders and Nurturing Tomorrow’s Scientists 

(PLANTS)  program.  Soon  afterwards,  I  was 

on my way to Savannah, Georgia to attend my 

first Botany Conference. The conference was a 

tad overwhelming at first because there were 

so  many  talks  and  workshops  that  seemed 

interesting. As part of the PLANTS program 

I was paired with two mentors that helped me 

The Path into Botany:  

Student Stories from  

Botany Conferences

navigate  the  conference.  This  was  incredibly 

helpful since they helped me to focus on talks 

that fit my research interests. 

In  addition  to  mentors,  I  was  expected  to 

attend  informative  luncheons  and  sessions. 

One  of  these  luncheons  focused  on  the 

different career options in the field of botany. 

During  this  lunch  I  was  able  to  talk  with 

professors and professionals at various stages 

in their careers.  It was here where I was first 

introduced  to  Dr.  Laura  Lagomarsino.  At 

the  time,  she  was  an  associate  researcher  at 

the  Missouri  Botanical  Garden  in  St.  Louis 

but  would  soon  be  starting  as  an  assistant 

professor  at  Louisiana  State  University. 

During this conversation, I was immediately 

excited by the way she expressed approaching 

systematics on a broader scale by combining 

aspects  of  ecology  with  taxonomy.  While 

talking with Dr. Lagomarsino, she mentioned 

that she was looking for graduate students. At 

the time, I was not sure I wanted to pursue a 

PhD in botany, but after interacting with so 

many successful, passionate people, I started 

to change my mind. These interactions gave 

me  the  boost  I  needed  to  take  my  botany 

career more seriously. 

After I graduated from Howard University, I 

accepted a position at the Morris Arboretum 

of the University of Pennsylvania

 as a Flora of 

Pennsylvania Intern.  As an intern, I spent half 


week digitizing and barcoding specimens 

as  a  part  of  the  Mid-Atlantic  Megalopolis 

By Janet Mansaray (Louisiana State Uni-

versity) and Brian Atkinson (University of 


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PSB  65  (2)  2019        


(MAM) Project and the other half performing 

necessary herbarium duties (mounting, filing, 

etc.). During this time, I decided to apply to 

graduate schools. I recalled the interaction I 

had with Dr. Lagomarsino during the Botany 

Conference and how enthusiastic she was 

about her research, a field that aligned well with 

my interests. Thus, she was the first professor 

I reached out to. Within days, she responded 

and from our various exchanges it seemed like 

I’d be a great fit for her lab! Just two years after 

my first Botany meeting, I accepted an offer 

from Louisiana State University to become Dr. 

Lagomarsino’s first graduate student. Today, 

my research focus is on the phylogenetics and 

morphological trait evolution of Centropogon 

subgenus Centropogon, a group of neotropical 

bellflowers. I recently finished my first year 

of graduate school and I am excited to attend 

Botany this summer as a graduate student. Not 

only did the PLANTS program allow me the 

opportunity to network and meet my current 

advisor, but it also gave me opportunity to 

make friends that I still keep in contact with 



My name is Brian Atkinson and I am a 

paleobotanist at The University of Kansas 

(KU). From Antarctica to Japan to the Pacific 

Northwest, I travel around the world to 

unearth new species of long extinct plants, and 

I try to figure out what they can tell us about 

plant evolution by directly integrating them in 

evolutionary analyses. In August 2019, I will 

begin a tenure-track position as an assistant 

professor/curator in the department of Ecology 

and Evolutionary Biology and the Biodiversity 

Institute at KU. I am overwhelmingly excited 

to start this position and further the field by 

doing what I love and training students. I’ve 

been asked to briefly share my experiences 

and career path, and it’s my pleasure to do so. 

My career path wasn’t exactly straightforward. 

I started my undergraduate degree at Ohio 

University as a fine arts major; however, 

right before my freshman year began, I 

had a change of heart and switched my 

major to Environmental Plant Biology 

in the Environmental and Plant Biology 

Department. This was a choice inspired by 

my enjoyment of drawing/painting plants in 

high school. The botanical courses that I took 

were my first memorable introductions to the 

diversity and evolution of plants. To say the 

least, my mind was blown and my curiosity 

caught fire. I followed what further ignited 

my curiosity and pursued a variety of different 

research opportunities, but nothing really 

stuck until I saw a talk on paleobotany by Dr. 

Gar Rothwell. This was the first time I’ve ever 

heard of the field and I was captivated by the 

way he described how fossil discoveries can 

make major impacts on our understanding of 

evolution. Immediately after his talk I asked 

him if I could do a research project in his 

lab and Gar generously gave me one, which 

involved describing a new species of conifer 

At the time, I was not 

sure I wanted to pursue 

a PhD in botany, but after 

interacting with so many 

successful, passion-

ate people, I started to 

change my mind. These 

interactions gave me the 

boost I needed to take 

my botany career more 


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from the Cretaceous. To say the least, this type 

of work continued to further my curiosity in a 

satisfying way, so it was a wrap after that. The 

project proceeded and Gar encouraged me to 

join the Botanical Society of America (BSA) 

and attend the 2011 meetings. 

Botany 2011 was the first national conference 

that I attended and proved to be a significant 

milestone in my career. Moreover, my 

attendance was fully funded by the PLANTS 

program, which aims to enhance diversity at 

BSA conferences. Although the Paleobotany 

section was very welcoming, the PLANTS 

program helped me feel even more welcomed 

and integrated in Botany by bringing in a 

diversity of students. A year later, I returned 

to Botany to give my first talk. I was certainly 

terrified, but members of the paleobotanical 

section and others were incredibly supportive 

of me as well as other students, which certainly 

took the edge off. I recall someone telling me 

not to worry because I was among friends. 

Such experiences and interactions allowed 

me to feel safe to be intellectually engaged 

and energized at Botany, which set a high bar 

for all other conferences—and I found myself 

returning to these meetings every year since 


Over the years Botany has continued to 

be a place where I can communicate my 

research and ideas by giving talks to a broad 

botanical audience, participate in engaging 

conversations with other researchers, learn 

about some of the most exciting research, 

and cultivate collegial and collaborative 

relationships with other botanists (several 

of which are now close friends). My 

experiences at Botany have nourished my 

research program, and without a doubt these 

meetings will continue to play an important 

role in my career. Although I must note that 

BSA/Botany have much to do in the way of 

enhancing diversity and inclusion, programs 

such as PLANTS are critical steps in the right 


Such experiences and 

interactions allowed 

me to feel safe to be  

intellectually engaged 

and energized at 


Botany, which set a 

high bar for all other  

conferences—and I 

found myself returning 

to these meetings every 

year since then.

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Atlas of Poetic Botany


Biodiversity and Climate Change ...................................................................................................................126

Next Generation Biomonitoring: Part 1. Advances in Ecological Research Volume 58 ..128

Economic Botany

Managing the Wild: Stories of People and Plants and Tropical Forests ................................130

Trees in Art ..................................................................................................................................................................132

Why Look at Plants? The Botanical Emergence in Contemporary Art ....................................135


Centric, Araphid and Eunotioid Diatoms of the Coastal Laurentian Great Lakes

      Bibliotheca Diatomologica, Volume 62 ..............................................................................................135

Diatom taxonomy and ecology: From France to the sub-Antarctic Islands. .........................136

Flora of Florida, Volume VI: Dicotyledons, Convolvulaceae through Paulowniaceae ......136

Syllabus of Plant Families, Part 1/3: Basidiomycota and Entorrhizomycota ........................137 


Atlas of Poetic Botany 

Francis Hallé 

2018. ISBN: 978-0-262-03912-3

Hardcover; $24.95 (£20.00),  

128 pp.

MIT Press, Cambridge,  


This short volume can be 

considered a coffee-table book that provides 

a light-hearted treatment of interesting and 

specialized plants from the tropical regions 

of the world. The author, Francis Hallé, is a 

French botanist who has expertise in tropical 

rainforests with a focus on tree architecture, 

and this book is an English translation from 

the original work in French.
Hallé makes a philosophical point of providing 

drawings rather than photographs, which he 

considers to be ephemeral. Rather, the high-

quality drawings provide a synthesis and 

interpretation of the plants, which he shows 

in an engaging but sometimes a whimsical 

manner. For instance, he shows a curious 

shrew sitting on a type of pitcher plant, 

Nepenthes lowii, a species endemic to Borneo. 

In fact, there is a small locater map provided 

for each featured plant.
The author refers to one of Darwin’s most 

underappreciated works, the Power of 

Movement in Plants (Darwin and Darwin, 

1880) since some of the plants in this book 

were first described by this seminal scientist.  

For example, the dancing plant, Codariocalyx 

motorius, is a tropical Asian shrub and is one 

of the few plants capable of rapid movement 

in response to sound. Other better-known 

species that exhibit rapid movement include 

the sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica) and the 

Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula).

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The book organizes the plants into several 

topics, including: record-setting species, 

interesting adaptions, “mysterious” behavior, 

coevolution between plants and animals, and 

“biological singularities.” Records include 

one of the biggest tree in Africa (Baillonella 

toxisperma), the biggest leaf in the world 

(Raphia regalis), and plants with very fast 

growth rates (water hyacinths, Eichhornia 

crassipes). Adaptations include a plant that 

is a single leaf (Monophyllaea insignis

and an orchid without leaves (Microcoelia 

caespitosa) from western Africa.
Some of the plants considered by the author 

are well known such as Rafflesia  arnoldii

which  has  the  largest  flower  in  the  world, 

and the bromeliad Spanish moss (Tillandsia 

usneoides), but most species are not.  This 

book is delightful and will be enjoyed by both 

amateur and professional botanists.


Darwin C., Darwin F.  1880.  The Power of Move-

ment in Plants. John Murray Publishers, London.

--John Z. Kiss, Department of Biology, UNC-

Greensboro, Greensboro NC 27402

Biodiversity and Climate 


Thomas E. Lovejoy and Lee Han-



ISBN: 978-0-300-20611-1

Paperback, US$40.00.


416 pp.

Yale University Press,

 New Ha-

ven, Connecticut, USA.

It can be extremely difficult to stay informed 

in a field that is constantly expanding in 

terms of research and information output. 

The task becomes even more difficult when 

the field itself is a rapidly and continually 

transforming global phenomenon spanning 

multiple disciplines. We need an updated 

comprehensive guide to inform an overarching 

(and simultaneously detailed) picture of 

climate change and its many effects on the 

living world. Editors Thomas E. Lovejoy and 

Lee Hannah do just this in Yale University 

Press’s new book Biodiversity and Climate 

Change—a sequel to their 2005 work Climate 

Change and Biodiversity. 
Lovejoy and Hannah are ideal curators 

of this work, not only having edited the 

previous volume, but both have prestigious 

and prodigious research careers related to 

biodiversity, climate change, environmental 

science, and conservation. A brief foreword by 

famed ecologist E.O. Wilson introduces this 

work, which is divided into five main sections. 

Each section contains several chapters 

(totaling 28) by a combination of senior and 

more junior authors, resulting in a thorough 

and rich perspective. Chapters provide 

introductions to the topic at hand, as well as 

theoretical background, informative figures 

and tables, empirical evidence, predictions 

for the future, unanswered questions, and 

brief conclusions. The book also includes 11 

different case studies that succinctly walk 

through specific examples of effects of climate 

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change and eight color plates that visually 

highlight major points. 
The first section asks “What is climate change 

biology?” and briefly walks the reader through 

the ways in which the biological world is 

changing and what, exactly, climate change is. 

These chapters provide a starting point for the 

remainder of the book, explaining the many 

ways in which humans are changing the living 

world, how and why the climate is changing, 

and how these elements interact to affect 

biodiversity across the globe. 
In the second section, authors discuss the 

currently observed changes in biodiversity 

that are related to climate change. These range 

across multiple biological sub-disciplines, 

such as the genetic signatures of change, 

population- and species-level changes in 

range and abundance, species interactions, 

and ecosystem changes. The reader is 

presented evidence from across a diversity of 

organisms (insects, cnidarians, plants, birds, 

fish, etc.) and in both terrestrial and aquatic 

ecosystems. Diverse systems are represented 

throughout the entire book, lending a holistic 

view of biodiversity and climate change.
Part three focuses on what past changes in 

climate can tell us about contemporary and 

future changes. Taking a more paleoecological 

perspective, authors focus on geologically 

historic abrupt climatic changes and how 

biodiversity subsequently transformed. I 

was especially intrigued by the “metaphor of 

deep time” in Chapter Nine, in which current 

and future communities are characterized by 

their structural and functional compositions 

and compared to compositions of previous 

geological time periods. 
The fourth focus, and the most comprehensive, 

is on the future. Part four contains information 

on specific research areas, their theoretically 

predicted changes, findings from current 

empirical research, and what changes are 

likely to occur in the future. Topics include 

species distribution modeling, the impact of 

ocean acidification on biodiversity, mountain 

biodiversity, food web changes, invasive 

species, and disease. A case study on dynamic 

management of a tuna fishery in Australia 

is especially eye-opening, demonstrating 

the many different types of data and 

communication between different types of 

organizations necessary to properly manage 

and conserve resources that are of importance 

to biodiversity and human economic and 

social interests.
Finally, the book turns to the ways in which 

conservation and policy can respond to the 

threats of climate change to biodiversity. 

Authors focus on themes such as protected 

areas, ecosystem-based adaptation and 

restoration, and connectivity. A chapter on 

the effects of climate change on agriculture 

and food security reinforces the ways climate 

change will directly affect humans, and how 

human populations that are least equipped 

to deal with negative effects will be the ones 

that suffer the most. Beyond the biological 

and physical science, a chapter on public 

awareness and behavior changes dives into the 

social sciences and how best to communicate 

climate change to the public and how to enact 

personal changes that will reduce human 

effects on biodiversity. 
Who should read this book? This work is 

both comprehensive and detailed, outlining 

broad pictures across disciplines while also 

giving specific examples. I personally would 

not recommend this book to readers who are 

looking for a beginning introduction to the 

field—the language and detail are meant for 

a slightly more scientific audience and the 

book employs enough jargon and detail to 

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likely disinterest a reader seeking a “popular 

science” book. 
I would, however, strongly recommend 

this work to scientists, policy-makers, or 

communicators in several fields, including 

biology, environmental science, environmental 

policy, earth and planetary science, science 

journalism or writing, climatology, and others. 

Members of each discipline will recognize 

principles that they are familiar with, and 

other topics about which they are either not 

well versed or may not have considered in 

detail. This is an excellent reference for those 

who are already more senior in their fields as 

well as those who are just beginning. I can 

see this book being utilized in a graduate 

course or upper-level undergraduate course 

on biodiversity or climate change. Overall, 

Biodiversity and Climate Change is an 

excellent, thorough, and detailed snapshot of 

our current understanding of how human-

induced climate change is affecting the living 

--Nora Mitchell, Department of Biology, 

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New 

Mexico, USA

Next Generation Bio-

monitoring: Part 1. 

Advances in Ecological 

Research Volume 58

David A. Bohan, Alex J. 

Dumbrell, Guy Woodward, and 

Michelle Jackson (eds.)

2018. ISBN: 978-0-12-813949-3

Hardcover, US$219.00. 293 pp. 

Academic Press, Oxford, UK. 

Next Generation Biomonitoring: Part 1 

is a collection of contributed papers that 

addresses the gap between the conceptual 

simplicity of biomonitoring (i.e., observe and 

record) and the challenges in implementing 

large-scale efforts to gather high-quality data. 

Biomonitoring data are critical for developing, 

executing, and assessing conservation 

policy, as well as growing our fundamental 

understanding of the interaction between 

ecosystem patterns and processes. The book 

emphasizes methodological approaches 

in molecular ecology, ecoinformatics, and 

remote sensing that have been developed in 

the last 15 years in a deliberate shift away from 

the use of methods that were designed for 

smaller scale and less-intensive monitoring.
The book is edited by David. A Bohan, Alex 

J. Dumbrell, Guy Woodward and Michelle 

Jackson, and its six chapters comprise the 

first of two volumes about contemporary 

biomonitoring in the Advances in Ecological 

Research series. The series has been published 

since 1962 and it is currently publishing 

annually. The contributions come from 84 co-

authors, reflecting the distributed and highly 

collaborative science commonly practiced in 

the field. Each chapter is written accessibly for 

a broad audience, but the book seems to be 

targeted at professionals and students involved 

in the acquisition or use of monitoring data.
The first two chapters look at the use of 

molecular approaches in biomonitoring. The 

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chapter “Biomonitoring for the 21



Integrating next-generation sequencing into 

ecological network analysis” by Derocles 

et al. focuses on the use of molecular data, 

such as from environmental DNA, to 

parameterize ecological network models, 

particularly multilayer networks. We learn 

how parameterized networks can be analyzed 

to monitor ecosystem change and quantify 

ecosystem functions and services. The 

second chapter by Leese et al., “Why we need 

sustainable networks bridging countries, 

disciplines, cultures and generations for 

aquatic biomonitoring 2.0: A perspective 

derived from the DNAqua-Net COST action,” 

examines biomonitoring of freshwater 

systems by applying DNA metabarcoding 

(the high throughput sequencing of target 

regions of DNA for purposes of species 

identification) to samples such as those 

containing environmental DNA. Leese et 

al. advocate for a reimagined view of high-

volume species monitoring that would largely 

replace traditional manual approaches, 

even though they acknowledge that we are 

still limited in realizing this vision due to 

technical challenges, such as the availability of 

taxonomic expertise and adequate methods to 

quantify the relative abundance of species.
Chapter three, “Advances in monitoring and 

modelling climate at ecologically relevant 

scales” by Bramer et al., examines the challenge 

of obtaining fine-scale environmental data, 

finer than the resolution typically obtained 

from networks of weather stations (>10 km 

scale). The need for these data stems from the 

common observation that organisms respond 

to variation in temperature, humidity, 

radiation, wind, and soil moisture at 0.001–

100 m scales, defined here as the microclimate 

range. To understand the distribution 

and abundance of organisms, we require 

environmental measurements relevant to the 

scale at which they operate.
The next two complementary chapters look at 

fundamental issues of study design in large-

scale biomonitoring efforts and the analysis 

of the data collected. In “Challenges with 

inferring how land-use affects terrestrial 

biodiversity: Study design, time, space and 

synthesis,” De Palma et al. look at different 

study designs that are typically used to assess 

the effects of land-use change on biodiversity. 

They compare designs such as times series, 

space-for-time substitutions, and before-

after-control-impact to consider the rationale 

and limitations of each. The fifth chapter, 

“Modelling and projecting the response of 

local terrestrial biodiversity worldwide to land 

use and related pressures: The PREDICTS 

Project” by Purvis et al., is a thorough review 

of a large effort that has resulted in the 

compilation of a global diversity dataset with 

thousands of species and sites. The source data 

for the project come from a vast assortment 

of studies that have collected data on many 

different species and places using all sorts of 

methods. The authors identify that handling 

the hierarchical structure in these kind of 

data is the principle challenge in analysis. The 

reasoning involved in the analysis of these 

data is likely to be informative, even for those 

with relatively modest datasets, as the basic 

structure for analysis presented here serves as 

a general template for handling hierarchical 

ecological data.
In the last chapter, “Mapping Mediterranean 

wetlands with remote sensing: A good-

looking map is not always a good map,” 

Perennou et al. examine the use of remote 

sensing technologies in biomonitoring using 

Mediterranean wetlands as a case study. 

We are told that wetlands are inherently 

challenging to assess because the spatio-

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temporal dynamics of wetland habitats are 

complex and difficult to characterize even 

with substantial amounts of data. Wetland 

habitats are also hard to differentiate, such 

as distinguishing between artificial and 

natural wetlands, where accurate assignment 

is important because natural wetlands are 

associated with significantly higher levels of 

biodiversity. The detection of long-term trend 

signals within the noise of natural variation 

is also hard because of intra- and interannual 

variation in water availability in wetlands. 

Remote sensing is fundamentally changing 

the scope of biomonitoring, particularly on 

the regional and global scale, but in the end we 

learn that remote sensing needs various forms 

of complimentary ecological knowledge for it 

to be of conservation value.
Next Generation Biomonitoring: Part 1 is 

successful in describing important modern 

approaches to biomonitoring. The six chapters 

of this book consistently present the logic 

of methods, along with their strengths and 

weaknesses, and offer practical insight into 

their implementation. Peer-reviewed journal 

articles have established a hegemony on 

publication in the scientific community, but 

the chapters of Next Generation Biomonitoring: 

Part 1 show the benefits of leeway in word 

count to fully articulate ideas and approaches 

beyond a condensed journal form. For most 

target readers, it is likely that only several 

chapters will be of direct interest, but those 

chapters are likely to be insightful. 
--Tan Bao, Department of Biological Sciences, 

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. 


Managing the Wild: Sto-

ries of People and Plants 

and Tropical Forests


Charles M. Peters 

2018. ISBN 978-0-300-22933-2

Hardcover, $30.00. 184 + xxiv 


New York Botanical Garden 

and Yale University Press. 

This is a well-written book, eminently readable 

on several levels, on plants and people. First, it 

is an engaging description of work in tropical 

forests, some infested with tigers, and the 

culture of the people who depend upon these 

forests. Second, it discusses forestry research 

techniques, using methods and equipment 

suitable to local people. Lastly, and especially 

meaningful to me as an ethnobotanist, it 

describes culturally sensitive ethnobotanical 

Peters accepts the local people as partners 

in his research, gaining autochthonous 

knowledge from the experts. His respect for 

their culture and his humility of approach 

is palpable. In this way, he models what 

successful ethnobotanical practice should be. 

In a wonderful balance, he collects forestry 

data on timber and non-timber use of plants 

(agave in the dry forests of Central America, 

rattans in Borneo and other parts of Southeast 

Asia), which has resulted in many papers 

in scientific journals but also provided an 

appreciation of forest metrics for local people.
We learn that the “pristine forests” do not 

mean there has been no human activity. 

Contrariwise, Peters shows that the forests 

have been maintained for hundreds of years—

if not longer—so that they are truly sustainable. 

Hence, the title Managing the Wild. Sadly, he 

documents the sometime disastrous results 

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of well-intended bureaucratic government 

The coverage of the book is global with 

short, pithy chapters of work in Mexico, 

Peru, Indonesia, Uganda, China, Papua New 

Guinea, Myanmar, and Vietnam. For anyone 

who loves ethnobotany, there is a treasure 

trove of information on a wide diversity of 

plants and plant products.
I highly recommend this book for the 

general public, anthropologists, botanists, 

ethnobotanists, ecologists, foresters, and 

anyone interested in sustainable tropical 

--Lytton John Musselman, Blackwater Ecologic 

Preserve, Department of Biological Sciences, 

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 


Trees in Art

Charles Watkins 

2018. ISBN: 978-1-78-023930-9

Cloth, US$55.00. 256 pp.

Reaktion Books, London 

A number of attendees of 

botanical and other kinds 

of scientific meetings 

look for the nearest art 

museum and add that to their schedule. This 

book will certainly be of interest to all art 

lovers, as well as those who are interested in 

the role trees have played in depiction of many 

historical periods, often as background, but 

sometimes as central figures of the painting 

or other work of art. Charles Watkins takes 

us through the ages, with a decidedly British 

and northern European bias, relating the 

stories and historical underpinnings of many 

beautiful images. He includes work by famous 

artists, as well as a number less well known to 

this reviewer.  
Starting with the earliest depictions of trees 

in art, both B.C. and less than 100 years A.D., 

the author reviewed various teachers and 

their techniques. I was fascinated with ‘blot’ 

depictions of foliage and landscape, which 

Alexander Cozens developed as a technique 

for teaching students; he was inspired by a 

comment made by Leonardo da Vinci, that 

you can imagine faces, woods, and landscapes 

and other things from the patterns of marks 

found on an old wall (or clouds for that 

matter!). But da Vinci himself made many 

drawings and paintings of trees with extreme 

detail and accuracy.  Grimm (who also 

illustrated Natural History and Antiquities of 

Selbourne for Gilbert White) was considered a 

good artist but lacking in his portrayal of trees, 

which were “not pleasing” and drawn with too 

much “humor.”  Not many artists before 1800 

drew trees with great accuracy.
The 19th century saw a turn to realism with 

many portraying trees with bark and other 

features characteristic of the species.  But then 

there were the Cubists (Braque, Picasso) and 

the Impressionists (Matisse, Monet, Redon), 

capturing the essence of plants with their 

shapes and textures, without the details.
Many ancient stories involved trees. In Ovid’s 

Metamorphoses, many women and men turn 

to trees.  Cyparissus killed his favorite stag by 

accident and asked to mourn him until the 

end of time; he became an evergreen cypress.  

Trees are strong and can withstand a lot of 

abuse, as a chapter devoted to Lopping and 

Pollarding examines. It is incredible how trees 

can withstand such extreme torture (and this 

was without any mention of bonsai…)!
Watkins discusses sacred trees and woods, 

important in many cultures. There are trees 

that stand for the elders in a community, 

often single oaks in temperate zone cultures, 

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taking on a wizened appearance with their 

enormous size. He devotes a chapter to trees 

and timber, as he reminds the readers there 

is no natural woodland without human 

influence (including deliberate fire, grazing, 

wood cutting, tree disease, and pollution).  

The penultimate chapter considers Western 

art abroad, as there was a need to describe 

distant lands to those for whom travel was 

not possible.  Many learned of the landscapes 

of faraway lands by the paintings and other 

depictions created by western artists traveling 

to those places, including works done in 

Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, 

Lebanon, and Tenerife. 
The  final  chapter  considers  “more  than  real 

trees,” considering many phantasmagoric 

images, from the grotesque images 

of Hieronymous Bosch and Giuseppe 

Arcimboldo, to the ominous trees depicted 

by Arthur Rackham in the fairy tales of The 

Brothers Grimm, and the beautiful but made-

up vegetation in the works of Henri Rousseau. 

Mind-bending works by Max Ernst, Salvador 

Dali, and more contemporary artists such as 

Vera Röhm, Giuseppe Penone, and Ai Weiwei 

among others are depicted in the last pages—a 

forward-looking ending to this enjoyable 

I truly learned a lot reading through this book 

and recommend it to everyone as a pleasing 

addition to your botanical bookshelf.  It would 

make a nice gift to someone who likes nature, 

plants, and trees (being coffee-table sized), 

and a popular choice in any library collection.
--Suzanne Koptur, Plant Ecologist and Profes-

sor of Biology, Florida International University

Why Look at Plants? The 

Botanical Emergence in 

Contemporary Art

Giovanni Aloi, author and 


2018. ISBN 978-9-004-37524-6

Hardcover; US$34.95. 280 pp. 

Koninklijke Brill, Leiden, the 


Giovanni Aloi, an art 

historian specializing in the representation 

of animals and plants in contemporary art—

who currently teaches at the School of the Art 

Institute of Chicago, Sotheby’s Institute of Art 

New York and London, and Tate Galleries 

and is the Editor in Chief of Antennae: The 

Journal of Nature in Visual Culture—offers 

an uncommon approach to botany in this 

collection of 35 essays. Combining historical 

and ecological analyses, he tackles topics 

from the perspective that local events are a 

consequence of, or influenced by, political 

processes that occur on a world scale. Overall 

themes embody plant–people relationships, 

organized into sections thematically: Forest, 

Trees, Garden, Greenhouse, Store, House, 

Laboratory, Other Spaces. Some encompass 

new, unexpected directions. Aloi opens each 

section, writing his own detailed, thoughtful, 

and engaging introductions to contributions 

by 27 others.
Aloi’s essential Introduction to the subject 

opens with tribute to the herbarium, effectively 

an iconographical precursor of natural history 

objectification. The practice of collecting live 

plant specimens for the purpose of study 

was introduced by Luca Ghini, founder of 

the academic study of nature in Bologna and 

Pisa. Dried specimens provided much-needed 

truth to begin secular, taxonomic projects 

based on the empirical scientific method. 

Next, Aloi observes the symbolism of plants 

(e.g., palm, iris, daffodil) and the iconography 

in Arcimboldo’s vegetal compositions aimed 

to criticize rich peoples’ conduct. He expands 

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on the cultural significance of flower color 

such as marigolds, now ubiquitous in India, 

that derive from new varieties received from 

South America via Portugal. Chrysanthemum 

is symbolic in China, of the 9th month, 

including a phonetic analogy between “nine” 

and “longtime.” The pronunciation of the 

name chrysanthemum in Chinese sounds like 

the verb “to remain.” Fruits appear later in 

history (but precede flowers), as in artworks 

after Caravaggio’s 1599 Basket of Fruit; lemons 

symbolize the Virgin Mary; pomegranates, 

resurrection; apples, temptation and original 

sin; figs, fertility. 
Aloi stresses the inclusion of imperfections in 

paintings of that era, as metaphorical language 

to symbolize hardships, such as Courbet’s 

paintings (1871-2) that depict decayed fruit, 

and chipped bowls, by a leader of the Realist 

movement, a revolutionary, highly political 

congregation of artists. Forbidden to paint 

humans, they painted damaged apples as an act 

of resistance. He exposes the British obsession 

for ferns, ‘Pteridomania’, and ‘Orchidelerium’ 

as embodiments of indiscriminate pillaging 

of exotic lands, or destruction of pristine 

environments; he associates climate change 

with the origins in capitalism.
Aloi’s introduction to “Forest: ‘Lost in the 

Post-Sublime Forest’,” initiates readers to his 

pivotal goal: overcoming plant blindness, 

i.e., the inability to see plants other than as 

resources or aesthetic objects. He views the 

environmental movement contributing to 

emerging tourist industries, treating plant 

appreciation as pornography, as through 

capitalism, participants become disconnected 

from other ethical obligations.
Aloi’s introduction to “Trees: ‘Upside-

Down, Inside-Out, and Moving’,” illustrates 

graphically how stunningly Hiroki 

transformed a value-less rotting tree to luxury 

objects validated by the art world. His focus 

on Christmas trees demonstrates how they 

led to commercialization through market-

driven consumption of decorations and 

other embellishments. A celebration initially 

intended as a redeemer of consumerism 

became an emblem of the human–tree 

capitalist relationship.
‘Falling from Grace’, Aloi’s introduction to 

the “Garden” section, features Quinn’s year 

2000 art installation of plants immersed in 26 

tons of low-viscosity silicone in a cold room 

and tank maintained at –20°C. Personally, 

I shudder at the waste of energy resources 

required to maintain this exhibit. Aloi tackles 

weeds at length, which he views as a capitalist 

construct, defined by their geography inside 

the garden, edges of roads, fronts of garages, 

and cracks in pathways, transgressing 

boundaries. Paradoxically, Aloi views them 

as more “natural,” yet demonized. However, 

Aloi omits from consideration in this volume 

any attention to dangerously invasive weed 

species, whose introduction causes or is likely 

to cause economic or environmental harm, 

or harm to human health, such as kudzu, 

water hyacinth, poison ivy, or lesser celandine 

(Ranunculus ficaria L.), the classic case of an 

invasive species native to Europe, northern 

Africa, western Asia, and Siberia that was 

brought to the U.S. as an ornamental plant, 

but by its spreading tuberous bulbs, displaces 

many woodland Spring-flowering species, 

destroying natural areas and gardens.
‘Thoreau’s Beans’ by Marder expands the 

discussion of weed sovereignty as expressed 

by Thoreau experimenting with self-sufficient 

living. Thoreau cultivated a small bean-field 

close to the hut he had built in the woods, but 

questioned his right to remove the weeds to 

encourage his beans to grow.
‘Greenhouse Effects’, Aloi’s introduction to 

“Greenhouse,” provides superb support to the 

current debate about climate change, using the 

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example of cultivated hothouse tomatoes, not 

at all ecological, but rather extremely expensive 

using “mastodonic geodesic domes set in a 

greenhouse-prototype model intended for 

educational/research institutions.” Aloi views 

the industrial revolution as having irreparably 

tampered with the structure of botanical 

gardens and research labs as sanctuary to 

prevent loss of species. One might scrutinize 

Aloi’s condemnation of Kew’s explorations 

for their ventures in colonial expansion, as 

the “principal node for economic botany” 

defining that discipline as “the study and 

cultivation of plants for financial gain, which 

was of crucial importance to the success of the 

British Empire.”
One might also question whether the use of 

blue and red acrylic, as described by Luftwerk 

in ‘Solarise’, is methodologically sufficient to 

subject plants to “plant wavelength spectrum 

absorption,” or whether it is merely an artistic 

device. Palmer’s ‘Lichen Museum” celebrates 

the fact that “lichens successfully resist human 

manipulation,” picking up the persistent anti-

capitalist theme running throughout this 

In my view, Aloi’s opening chapter ‘Hyperplant 

Shelf-Life’ renders “Store” the strongest 

section of this compilation. It introduces 

PLANT-CAPITAL: Objectification and 

Agency in a Consumerist World, with an 

18-minute video (

watch?v=dej18GiPTrA) arguing against 

consumption of plants from big box gardening 

centers, documenting details about the side 

effects of the production of supermarket 

flowers with associated consequences of 

ecological and social exploitation: sex 

harassment, relentless exposure to dangerous 

chemicals, and exorbitant demands for water. 

“Behind the beauty of cut flowers always 

lurks layers of capitalist exploitation.” Aloi 

gives as examples Tesco’s carnations and 

lilies from South America; based on first-

hand experience, I would add Kenya’s flower 

farms surrounding Lake Nakuru, expelling 

fertilizer-laden waste water into the Lake, 

leading to eutrophication and contamination 

of local drinking water. Aloi considers potted 

plants as products as well as victims, because 

their persistence is unsustainable outside 

the greenhouse, indispensable to maintain a 

controlled environment. Another example is 

the quick turnover expected of plant inventory 

at Home Depot, hence no investment is 

made by Home Depot into plant care. Plants 

are used only as eye-catching decoys to 

induce buyers to purchase more expensive 

outdoor appliances, including lawn furniture, 

barbeque grills, etc. Subsequently, the 

plants are destroyed, for the same economic 

reasons. ‘Home Depot Throwing Out Plants’, 

by Various Contributors, continues this 

trajectory, revealing that despite persistent 

pleas by customers, Home Depot’s corporate 

directive is to discard their plants, viewing 

them as disposable.
Overall, I found the section titled “Laboratory” 

most disappointing. Aloi’s introduction, 

‘Psychoactives and Biogenetics’, discusses 

the artistic, psychotropic, and poisonous 

aspects about foxglove but fails to mention its 

stunning medicinal benefits, used to make a 

prescription drug called digoxin—one of the 

few medicines used by cardiac patients derived 

directly from plants, not synthesized in the 

laboratory. Another extreme example given 

is of embryonic tissue of Arabidopsis thaliana 

(L.) Heynh. fed with steroids extracted from 

an artist’s urine. This causes alterations in the 

embryos’ epigenetic patterns, leading to the 

productions of morphologies that stray from 

the recurring plant form in the wild, termed 

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“monsters”—“an ontogenesis generating from 

impossible love.” 
Aloi’s book is loaded with opinions about 

plants from an art-historical and contemporary 

artist’s perspective. I appreciated Aloi’s select 

quotations placed to open of each of his 

introductory chapters. Many illustrations are 

gorgeous, as would be expected. Their sources 

are credited well, and the book’s pages are laid 

out beautifully. There is a 10-page bibliography, 

but only a scanty 2-page index that prevented 

me from locating entries I had not marked; 

I noticed several misspelled words on pages 

10, 103, 129, 214, and 237. For all their depth 

and fresh outlook, these essays leave open 

the question of why they belong together in 

a book. Frankly, the essays by other authors 

seemed to be postscripts on an already-

developed framework. It’s not evident who 

the target audience is for this interdisciplinary 

work bearing an environmental-conservation 

message; it may appeal to a select group of 

artists or plant lovers.
–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 



Centric, Araphid and 

Eunotioid Diatoms of the 

Coastal Laurentian Great 

Lakes Bibliotheca Diato-

mologica, Volume 62. 

Euan D. Reavie and Amy R. 



ISBN: 978-3-443-57053-8 

79. 184 pp. 

Schweizerbart Science Publishers, Stuttgart, 


This slim, informative volume is a most 

helpful and informative addition to the “usual 

suspects” for identifying freshwater algae. 

Diatoms usually get short shrift because of the 

detailed attention and knowledge of “minutiae” 

required to correctly identify to genus and 

species. This volume is based on hundreds 

of nearshore sampling on the U.S. side of all 

five Great Lakes, and includes information on 

a “suite of environmental measurements.” As 

is typical, each species has its scientific name 

and authority stated, is clearly described, 

and refers to one or more excellent photos. 

The photography is excellent and allows for 

a better understanding of morphology to aid 

in identification.  Additionally, the authors 

provide information on the taxon’s presence 

in one of six nearshore habitats, prevalence in 

each of the five Great Lakes, and averaged total 

P and total Cl for that taxon. They have also 

calculated and presented the “stress power” 

and “stress rank” that “depict the relative 

ability of a taxon to track stress and whether 

the taxon reflects low or high stress.” 
All in all, an excellent and informative volume 

that is sure to become commonplace in the 

identification of freshwater centric, araphid 

and eunotioid diatoms of the United States. 

(Recommended level: Specialist)
--Susan T. Meiers, Western Illinois University

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Diatom taxonomy and 

ecology: From France 

to the sub-Antarctic 


Nova Hedwigia, Beihaft 146. 

Bart Van de Vijver, Loïc 

Tudesque, and Luc Ector (eds)


ISBN 978-3-443-51068-8

Paperback; €139.00. 325 pp. 

J. Cramer, in Borntraeger  

Science Publishers, Stuttgart

Editors Bart Van de Vijver, Loïc Tudesque, 

and Luc Ector have gathered a wealth 

of information and techniques from 40 

authors in 20 chapters to help illuminate the 

biogeography, ecology, paleoecology, and 

biodiversity of diatoms from France to the 

Keguelen Islands (“Desolation Islands”) of 

the Southern Indian Ocean. The fine volume 

is dedicated to Dr. René Le Cohu, a noted 

French diatom ecologist and taxonomist for 

his 80th birthday.  
The chapters address population succession 

over multiple decades in the small pond at 

Botanic Garden Meise, Belgium; explores 

contrasting methods in DNA barcoding and 

morphological methods in diatoms from the 

Eightmile River in Connecticut, USA; and 

details multiple new species and genera from 

around the world. This is a solid offering of 

techniques and well-documented descriptions 

of new and/or reorganized taxa, which shows 

how active diatom ecology and taxonomy still 

is.  The final chapter is a bibliography of the 

works of Professor René Le Cohu from 1965 

to present.
--Susan T. Meiers, Western Illinois University

Flora of Florida, Volume 

VI: Dicotyledons, Con-

volvulaceae through 


Richard P. Wunderlin, Bruce F. 

Hansen, and Alan R. Franck. 

2019. ISBN: 978-0-8130-5613-


Cloth US$70. 372 pp. 

University Press of Florida. 

The Flora of Florida, Volume VI is part of a series 

of books comprising 10 volumes; Volume 1 

focuses on pteridophytes and gymnosperms, 

Volumes 2 through 7 on identification 

of dicotyledons, and volumes 8 through 

10 on monocotyledons. Flora of Florida, 

Volume VI (6) concentrates on taxonomic 

treatments of 19 families: Convolvulaceae, 

Solanaceae, Sphenocleaceae, Hydroleaceae, 

Oleaceae, Tetrachondraceae, Plantaginaceae, 

Scrophulariaceae, Linderniaceae, Pedaliaceae, 

Martyniaceae, Acanthaceae, Bignoniaceae, 

Lentibulariaceae, Verbenaceae, Lamiaceae, 

Mazaceae, Phrymaceae, and Paulowniaceae
The book begins with an introduction that 

explains the organization of flora within the 

book: taxa included, taxa excluded, systematic 

arrangement, descriptions, common name, 

derivation of scientific names, synonymy, 

habitat, distribution, endemic or exotic status, 

reproductive season, hybrids, and references. 

The organization of taxa included are specified 

by the following: (1) an herbarium specimen 

has been seen to document its occurrence 

in Florida, or (2) a specimen is cited from 

Florida in a monograph or revision whose 

treatment is considered sound. It is noted 

periodically within the book when a taxon is 

excluded due to a misidentified specimen(s), 

a lack of documentation by means of a 

specimen, or a misapplied name. The end 

of the introduction includes a section titled 

“Taxonomic Concepts.” This states that the 

references provided are updated monographs 

or revision of various groups, except flora 

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that are believed to have recent evidence that 

necessitates a change. 
After the brief but thorough introduction 

to the contents within the book, it 

begins with references to the “Systematic 

Treatments” and “Keys to Major Vascular 

Plant Groups.” This offers what volumes 

are related to each step of the key and a 

description of pteridophytes, gymnosperms, 

dicotyledon, and monocotyledons. Starting 

with Convolvulaceae, the families are in 

morphologically similar order and the genera 

within each family is alphabetical. Each family 

and genus has a very thorough description 

of the specified flora. The book includes a 

literature cited, an index to common names, 

and an index to the scientific names. 
In terms of design, the book is very well 

made. It is hardcover and printed on quality 

paper. As far as the contents, the descriptions 

are thorough and the book is laid out 

simplistically, yet includes what you need in 

order to identify taxa while in the field. My 

biggest issue with the book is the layout of the 

19 families within the book. Without flipping 

constantly to the “contents” page, there is 

little indication when you have reached a 

new family. The family font is bigger, but it is 

still difficult to search for without a contents 

check. In conjunction, the “contents” of the 

book should be more complete, and it should 

number the pages for the genea for ease 

of identification, since it only includes the 

“acknowledgments, introduction, families, 

literature cites, index to common names, and 

index to scientific names.” 
Overall, I truly think the authors have done a 

wonderful job and are very descriptive in the 

way you need in the field or just a tool to refresh 

your knowledge. The issue with bringing this 

book into the field is the number of books you 

may need to carry. As mentioned, the book is 

hard cover and the weight is not unreasonable, 

yet if I am going out into the field to study 

dicotyledons, I would have to bring Volumes 

2-7; I personally would not enjoy lugging 

around that many. In hindsight, Florida does 

have more than 4300 taxa and having to carry 

many books in order to identify species is the 

nature of plant identification in Florida.  
Richard P. Wunderlin is professor emeritus 

of biology at the University of South Florida, 

Bruce F. Hansen is curator emeritus of 

biology at the University of South Florida 

Herbarium, and Alan R. Frank is curator at 

Florida International University. As per the 

acknowledgments, many herbaria collections 

and facilities were utilized in preparing 

this volume. In addition, Flora of Florida 

is an ongoing project that has been strongly 

supported by the University of South Florida 

Institute for Systematic Biology.
--Erin Downey, University of Southern Florida

Syllabus of Plant Fami-

lies, Part 1/3:  

Basidiomycota and  


Dominik Begerow, Alistair 

McTaggart, and Reinhard 


(Series editor: Wolf-

gang Frey)

2018. ISBN: 978-3-443-


€139.00. 471 pp.

Schweizerbart Science Publishers, Stuttgart, Germany

This volume represents the final installment 

dealing with Kingdom Fungi within the 

thirteenth edition of the recently resurrected 

Engler’s Syllabus of Plants Families.  This new 

version of the classic series considers the major 

groups of diverse organisms once treated as 

“plants” (and still often taught together in 

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introductory botany classes), subjecting each 

to a contemporary biosystematic overhaul 

that utilizes the most recent data sets and 

current phylogenetic principles.  The basal 

groups of true Fungi were treated in a previous 

volume (Part 1/1), which also included 

myxomycetes, heterotrophic stramenopiles 

such as the oomycetes, and, unexpectedly, the 

cyanobacteria, whereas the Ascomycota were 

dispatched in their own volume (Part 1/2, 

reviewed in PSB 63[3]:116).  Although the 

rationale for how the series is organized at the 

broadest levels is not always clear, a predictably 

phylogenetic scheme is followed within each 

major group considered.  The present volume 

treats the Basidiomycota, plus a page and a half 

dedicated to the Entorrhizomycota, a small, 

isolated clade of root parasites once thought 

to have affinities among the smut fungi but 

now placed in uncertain relationship to the 

Dikarya and Glomeromycota.
The Basidiomycota are currently resolved into 

three major clades: the Pucciniomycotina, the 

Ustilagomycotina, and the Agaricomycotina.  

The first of these includes not only the rust 

fungi (Pucciniales), a familiar group of 

obligate plant parasites, but also a considerable 

diversity of less well-known fungi with diverse 

structure and ecology, some of which even 

produce fruiting bodies.  The fungal kingdom’s 

most complex life cycles occur in this group, 

where a single species may show as many as 

five different spore types and two distinct, 

obligate plant hosts.  The second subphylum, 

Ustilagomycotina, encompasses mainly plant 

parasitic fungi, most notably the smuts, 

that show characteristic interaction zones 

ultrastructurally at the fungus-host interface, 

now considered a synapomorphy for the group.  

The third subphylum, the Agaricomycotina, 

includes the bulk of the Basidiomycota, and 

particularly the diverse fleshy fungi most 

familiar to the field mycologist and forager.  

They obtain carbon as saprotrophs, parasites, 

mycorrhiza-formers, and lichen-formers.
Many useful figures—color photographs, light 

and electron micrographs, and line drawings—

are provided.  All figures are arranged in 

plates grouped together at the end of the text 

treatment of each of the three subphyla.  The 

organization is not particularly user-friendly.  

The figures are called out in the text not by 

page number but according to plate and figure 

number, making it more time-consuming to 

find them.  Furthermore, the legends are all 

grouped apart from the figures themselves, 

so one needs to triangulate among three 

separate locations to interpret the images in 

context.  For the Pucciniomycotina and the 

Ustilagomycotina, a cladogram is provided 

among the figures, helping the reader to place 

the taxonomic scheme in phylogenetic context.  

Unfortunately, however, no cladogram 

is provided for the Agaricomycotina, the 

largest of the three subphyla and the one that 

includes most of the macrofungi.  These taxa 

have undergone profound rearrangement 

in the last few decades, with once-familiar 

groupings of commonly observed fungi such 

as the “aphyllophorales” and “gasteromycetes” 

now dissolved in favor of new placements 

that are more meaningful phylogenetically 

but often unexpected morphologically.  A 

cladogram would help the reader assimilate 

these changes and better appreciate the extent 

to which convergent evolution has repeatedly 

generated the same syndromes in basidiocarp 

structure and spore dispersal.  It’s a bit 

disappointing that the text barely comments 

on such trends.  Indeed, there is little text 

discussion at all; most of the prose consists 

of character description lists for each taxon 

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considered.  The fungal taxonomist will surely 

appreciate the authors’ painstaking work in 

compiling and systematizing the current state 

of basidiomycete diversity, but the paucity of 

discussion means that this work will serve 

primarily as a reference tool rather than as any 

sort of textbook. 
In many places, the text would have benefited 

from copyediting by a native-speaking 

proofreader.  There are many instances 

where errors of grammar, punctuation, and 

diction require one to pause and re-read, 

although ultimately most meanings are clear 

from context. No glossary is provided. The 

Dictionary of the Fungi (or similar reference) 

will therefore be needed to interpret the 

specialized terminology that abounds in 

the character descriptions, as well as to 

distinguish some typos from unfamiliar terms 

(e.g., [sic:] teilospores, peridal, biozonate, 

Imperfections aside, this volume is clearly 

a significant work that provides a thorough, 

contemporary treatment of a fungal class that 

is of central importance in the biosphere.
--William B. Sanders, Florida Gulf Coast 


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Plant Science Bulletin

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