from Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici by Antonio Franchi

Plant of the Month: Peony

Peony's effectiveness as an ancient cure translated into a tool of statecraft in the eighteenth century.
A massive American Elm tree sits backlit by the rising sun in Overlook Park in northern Portland, Oregon.

Why Learning the Names of Trees Is Good for You

Getting to know trees can lead to new ways of looking at the world.
Ayecohtli (pictured left) as the scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus): 1931-33 reproduction of The Badianus Manuscript, 1552; Rare Book Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, DC

Plant of the Month: The Runner Bean

From Aztec medicinal remedies to Darwin’s study of flower pollination, local knowledge about the runner bean reveals the importance of biodiversity.
Mother and daughters planting flowers in a backyard

Five Ways To Help the Environment While in Lockdown

We can’t be wandering outside much right now, but there are still ways to go green.
Source: . Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, DC

Plant of the Month: Stanhopea Orchids

How did some orchids transform from rare, all-but-inaccessible flowers into popular houseplants you can purchase at a supermarket?
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.
Mint

Plant of the Month: Mint

From the fields of ancient Egypt to the present-day American Pacific Northwest, the history of mint goes beyond the search for fresh breath.

Plant of the Month: Turmeric

The plant’s golden color has inspired a long—and potentially deadly—fascination.
A developing Gall on a Quercus pubescens caused by the insect Cynips quercusfolii.

Are Galls Miracle Cures or Just Weird Growths on Plants?

For millennia, humans have exploited galls for medicine, fuel, food, tanning, and dyeing. Some people have considered them miraculous.
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.