River otters holding hands. Cats chasing their own tails. Animals seem like they demand our attention. But plants (and their tree friends) have a lot more going on than you’d think. Sit with them a while.

Serengeti

Plants Know When They Are Being Eaten. (And They Fight Back.)

Plants have long employed a variety of defensive strategies against herbivores, but the scope and sophistication of these defenses is still being understood.
Joseph Rock

Meet the Man Behind the Peony

In China, gramophone and camera in tow, botanist and explorer Joseph Rock collected seeds from the tree peony that bears his name.
Illustration: a flower and leaf of the Franklinia alatamaha by William Bartram (1782)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklinia#/media/File:William_Bartram01.jpg

America’s Mysterious Lost Tree

Extinct in the wild, the Franklinia tree is still cultivated in botanical gardens, private homes, parks, even cemeteries. It's also got an interesting Revolutionary-era backstory.

Plant of the Month: Turmeric

The plant’s golden color has inspired a long—and potentially deadly—fascination.
Orchids in a Wardian Case

The Accidental Invention of Terrariums

Victorian London became obsessed with Ward's cases, which protected plants from the city's toxic pollution -- and piqued peoples' imaginations.
Oscar Wilde with a green carnation

Four Flowering Plants That Have Been Decidedly Queered

The queer history of the pansy and other flowers.
Pear seedlings from a book about Luther Burbank

The Marvelous Experiments of Amateur Plant Breeders

Over 100 years ago, a horticulturalist introduced hybrid plants to California gardeners. Up sprouted a movement of amateur experiments in plant biology.
Mimosa pudica

Plant of the Month: The Sensitive Plant

This plant’s animal-like behavior and alleged love-provoking abilities have sparked the imagination of everyone from early modern yogis to today’s scientists.
Crown shyness

The Mysteries of Crown Shyness

In some forests, trees grow in a manner that keeps their branches from touching one another. Despite decades of study, scientists aren't exactly sure why.
A banana on a pink surface

The Beloved, Bedeviled Banana

The Cavendish banana is currently threatened by a fungal disease. A similar disease all but wiped out its predecessor, the Gros Michel banana.
Wollemi Pine

Wollemi Pine, Dinosaur Tree

The Wollemi Pine is an ancient tree, virtually unchanged since herbivorous dinosaurs last munched on them.
seagrass in blue ocean

Why We Need Seagrass

Seagrass meadows are habitats for a variety of marine life, and a vital link between land and sea. But these crucial plants are increasingly under threat.
Katma Airfield Sandplain Grasslands. Photo courtesy of Christopher Neill/MBL

Why the Sandplain Grasslands Are So Special

Sandplain grasslands, a kind of East Coast prairie, are some of the rarest habitats in the world, and sheep-grazing may be key to their survival.
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