Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2021-v67-3Actions

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 Lee Kass: Eliminate standardized tests

 for grad school...... p. 181

 Welcome to new BSA employees Tricia Jackson 

& Jennifer Hartley.... pp. 167/185

Virtual Congressional Days Visit report from 

Taylor AuBuchon-Elder & Mary Sagatelova.... p. 160

The Little Red Hen 

Culture Change 

by David Asai

Botany 2021 Speaker 

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                                                   Fall 2021 Volume 67 Number 3


Editorial Committee 

Volume 67


David Tank


Department of Biological Sci-


University of Idaho

Moscow, ID 83844

James McDaniel


Botany Department

University of Wisconsin 


Madison, WI  53706

Seana K. Walsh


National Tropical Botanical 


Kalāheo, HI 96741


In this issue of PSB, we present the BSA’s 

new strategic plan and, as always, highlight 

many society efforts that fall into each of 

the four strategic priorities.

These topics are echoed in the report from 

the International Affairs Committee, an 

opinion piece on standardized admission 

exams, and in our feature article by David 

Asai, which I am particularly excited to 


We celebrate the research and scholarly 

excellence of our Botany 2021 award 

winners, as well as the ongoing success of the 

BSA’s science education programs. We are 

also delighted to feature many of our science 

communicators who enthusiastically 

educate the public about plants and plant 

science and present the reports from our 

Public Policy Award winners who attended 

this year’s congressional visit day. 

One of the highlights of being PSB editor 

is hearing from BSA members about their 

endeavors to promote and support botany 

and botanists. Stay tuned to the PSB for 

more in 2022! 


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BSA Announces New Strategic Plan..............................................................................................................152

Report from the BSA’s International Affairs Committee......................................................................157

National Botanical and Natural History Societies and Organizations............................................158

Report from Virtual Congressional Visits Day.............................................................................................160

A SciComm Celebration.........................................................................................................................................164

BSA Welcomes New Accounting Manager, Tricia Jackson..............................................................167

Botanical Society of America’s Award Winners (Part 2) ......................................................................168


The Little Red Hen and Culture Change.......................................................................................................174

Opinion:  It’s Time to Eliminate Standardized Tests for Graduate School Admissions ......181


Welcome to Jennifer A. B. Hartley! BSA’s New Education Programs Supervisor.................185

Farewell to Jodi Creasap Gee.............................................................................................................................186

Update on PlantingScience and Master Plant Science Team...........................................................187

PlantingScience Mentors still needed for Fall 2021 Teams...............................................................188

PlantingScience incorporated in Science Outreach Course at Syracuse University ...........188


Advice from the Careers in Botany Luncheon ..........................................................................................192

Papers to Read for Future Leaders ..................................................................................................................194


Renewal Season Has Started! .............................................................................................................................195

Introducing the 2021-2022 BSA Student Social Media Liaison Teressa Alexander...........196

Thank you Sonal!.........................................................................................................................................................196



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To ensure that we set forth a path that will 

build a stronger botanical community and 

serve our mission, the Botanical Society of 

America embarked on the process of creating 

a new 5-year strategic plan in 2020. BSA 

membership was surveyed and a diverse 

and broad coalition of members debated 

and discussed current and future needs. 

The resulting priorities, goals, and strategies 

were finalized and approved at the 2021 BSA 

Members’ Business Meeting on July 22, 2021. 

The strategic plan is a culmination of a very 

intentional multi-step process in which we 

prioritized inclusion, transparency, and BSA 

community involvement. The BSA officers, 

committees, and staff will take the plan, 

outlined below, and move forward in the 

BSA Announces New Strategic Plan

As most of you know, the Society spent much of the last year developing a new Strategic Plan. The 

strategic plan is a culmination of a very intentional multi-step process in which we prioritized 

inclusion, transparency, and BSA community involvement.

We are proud to present the revised BSA Mission statement and Strategic Plan to you (available 

at, as it was 

approved by the BSA Council and at the All Members Business meeting in July 2021. Our staff 

and leadership will be working on the implementation of several of these goals and strategies in the 

coming year.

I want to thank our past President, Cindi Jones, for her leadership in this area as well as the 30 

members of our Strategic Planning Committee and all our Section and Committee Chairs who 

provided feedback over this last year.

-Michael Donoghue, BSA President


To inspire and promote an inclu-

sive global community committed to 

advancing fundamental knowledge 

and innovation in the botanical 

sciences for the benefit of people and 

the environment. 

next five years to implement changes that will 

make the BSA community stronger, more 

connected, and ready for global changes and 

the future of plant science. 

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PSB 67(3) 2021




Goal 1: The BSA will be an antiracist and 

anti-discriminatory society.


1.1 Offer DEI leadership training opportunities 

to members, including students, that encourage 

and foster development as inclusive leaders and 

innovative educators. 

1.2 Analyze all policies, practices, and expenditures 

of the society to determine if and how they may be 

leading to DEI disparities, and then eliminate or 

revise policies and cease practices and activities 

that do not support DEI goals.

1.3 Foreground considerations of diversity, equity 

and inclusion in all society policies and practices. 

1.4 Develop activities and opportunities that 

extend beyond the BOTANY conference and 

that do not present financial barriers for member 


Goal 2: The BSA will be a scientific society 

whose membership reflects the diversity of 

society as a whole. 


2.1 Increase visibility of who is a botanist, 

showcasing the diversity of the profession and the 

scientists themselves. 

2.2 Prioritize collaborations with HSIs/HBCUs/

MSIs/Tribal and Community colleges and with 

other professional societies and organizations to 

expand access to and inclusion of their students in 

botanical career pathways. 

2.3 Increase recruitment and retention of BIPOC 


2.4 Increase the diversity of leadership on the 

Board and all BSA committees. 

Goal 3: The BSA will be a leader in 

developing initiatives to recruit and support 

diversity and in advocating for institutions 

(academic, government, etc.) to recognize 

and reward the diversity enhancing activities 

of their members. 


3.1 Support and facilitate increased exposure to 

the botanical sciences in institutions that serve 

underrepresented groups. 

3.2 Develop support documentation that will help 

encourage members to advocate for promotion 

and tenure metrics that reward contributions to 

DEI at their institutions. 

3.3. Advocate for the importance of diverse 

perspectives and inclusive excellence in all aspects 

of science and science education. 

Goal 4: The BSA will actively evaluate 

its progress in recruiting and retaining 

members from underrepresented groups, 

and in understanding inequities in access 

and opportunity among its members. 


4 .1 Collect and make available demographic data 

to be used in assessment and planning following 

IRB protocols to ensure privacy. 

4.2 Develop and deploy tools for assessing the 

differential impact of access to existing and future 

opportunities (e.g., PLANTS), awards, grants, etc. 

4.3 Collect data to understand why individuals 

join and leave the Society. 

4.4 Share data and assessment with the 

membership on an annual basis to regularly revise 

policies and practices that improve support for 

diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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PSB 67(3) 2021




Goal 5: The impacts of BSA publications 

(American Journal of Botany,  Applications 

in Plant SciencesPlant Science Bulletin) will 

increase, as evidenced by various metrics. 



.1 Broaden the scope of research represented in 

BSA journals and at conferences while supporting 

the current core of the society in organismal, 

structural, developmental, and evolutionary 


5.2 Attract more researchers from a wide range 

of plant-related areas (e.g., conservation, forestry, 

horticulture, plant-microbe interactions) to our 

publications and conferences. 

5.3 Create and promote greater international, 

cross- and interdisciplinary opportunities for 

collaboration within BSA journals. 

5.4 Move toward an entirely open access publication 

model while maintaining low publication fees for 


Goal 6: The recognition of botany as an 

essential biological and environmental 

discipline will increase within the scientific 



6.1 Promote the science of botany as foundational 

to global restoration and actively promote 

interdisciplinary efforts related to repair earth 


6.2. Increase the promotion of botany and its 

importance as a professional scientific discipline to 

confront public and professional misperceptions. 

6.3 Provide expertise to funding agencies on 

current/future issues related to botany. 

6.4. Promote inclusive ‘plant-person’ identities 

to address negative associations with botanical 

sciences and science in general (elite, exclusive, etc.) 

6.5 Increase recognition of the value of indigenous 

botanical knowledge 

Goal 7: The increased prominence of the 

BSA as a global leader in research, teaching, 

and advocacy related to the botanical 

sciences will be reflected in at least a 5% 

membership increase over three years. 


7.1 Establish the BSA as a prominent leader on 

current issues related to our field and the mission 

of the society. 

7.2 Recruit and retain more professionals at all 

career stages who study, teach and/or promote 

botanical sciences to BSA from all forms of 

academic and non-academic institutions. 

7.3 Recruit/retain/support members from outside 

of the society, or who have been affiliated in the 

past, through presentation, service, or publication 


7.4 Increase international participation in society 

activities and governance. 

7.5 Evaluate the possibility of revising membership 

fees to include additional categories/price points 

to better accommodate international members. 

Goal 8: The BSA will provide its members 

with increased support for scholarly 

excellence and research. 


8.1 Increase the number of research awards and 

strategically increase or revise honors and awards 

to reflect BSA core values. 

8.2 Promote discussions with decision-makers 

in funding agencies (e.g., The National Science 

Foundation) with the aim of increasing 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


understanding of the importance of botany and 

providing additional funding opportunities. 

8.3 Create new mechanisms for the recognition of 

scholarly excellence that promote our members 

beyond the society. 

Goal 9: The annual BOTANY conference 

will be the premier venue to showcase and 

disseminate the latest research in botany.


9.1 Increase access to the conference, especially 

for members of underrepresented groups. 

9.2 Increase promotion of and access to special 

lectures/symposia beyond the conference. 

9.3 Incorporate a virtual component in all future 




Goal 10: The appreciation of plants and the 

field of botany will increase in society. 



0.1 Connect BSA resources with non-BSA 

audiences through stronger collaboration with 

other regional, national and international plant 


10.2 Increase emphasis on science communication 

and the development of science communication 


10.3 Highlight BSA members’ expertise and 

the centrality of plants in solving pressing 

environmental and societal problems (climate 

change, biodiversity loss, benefits of nature to 

mental and physical health, etc.) 

10.4 Engage with the public to promote curiosity 

and appreciation for plants, nature, and science. 

Goal 11: The BSA will be a major contributor 

in efforts to educate the public about 

science and to shape regional, national 

and international policy regarding science 

and conservation; the BSA will be seen as 

a premier source of unbiased botanical 



11.1 Reward BSA members for leadership efforts 

beyond the BSA in areas such as innovation, 

strategic communication, etc. 

11.2 Initiate or collaborate on public policy 

efforts broadly focused on science, botany, and 

pressing environmental stresses (climate change, 

biodiversity loss, etc.). 

11.3 Amplify the visibility of BSA members 

participating in regional, national and 

international efforts that promote the role of 

science in society, influence public policy, shape 

educational initiatives, etc. 

11.4 Lead/participate in cross-society data 

collection efforts to better understand 

opportunities and challenges, and work toward 

common goals focused on human diversity and 

scientific advancement. 

Goal 12: The BSA will be recognized as 

the leader in education for the botanical 



12.1 Encourage, assist, and advocate for life science 

educators at all levels to include botanical science 

in their curricula, standards, and lesson plans. 

12.2 Ensure that education and outreach programs 

are grounded in evidence-based best practices of 

botanical science education and contribute to our 

goals in broadening participation. 

12.3 Lead workshops throughout the year targeted 

toward students and early career academics 

and naturalists to foster future generations of 

exceptional educators in botanical science. 

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PSB 67(3) 2021




Goal 13: All members of the BSA will share 

a strong sense of belonging to the society. 


13.1 Establish and support networks of affinity 

groups that enhance career development by 

providing accessible channels of communication 

among diverse members. 

13.2 Develop and maintain strong frameworks that 

span career stages and peer mentoring focused on 

professional development. 

13.3 Collect data to better understand what the 

BSA can do to support student members as they 

transition to professional positions, thus reducing 

attrition from botanical careers at these junctures. 

13.4 Continue to increase the number and size 

of awards for graduate students/postdocs in 


Goal 14: Membership in the BSA by people 

outside of academia will increase by at least 

10% over five years.


14.1 Highlight the many diverse and cross-

disciplinary pathways to successful careers in the 

botanical sciences outside of academia through 

publications, conferences and activities, and 

develop initiatives to support and retain BSA 

student members to transition to non-academic 

professional careers. 

14.2 Review and revise our governance structure 

to generate benefits for non-academic career 

members, accounting for career path and career 

stage as two important axes of diversity. 

14.3 Review the use of a Careers job board on our 

website and consider ways to better disseminate 

and heighten awareness of non-academic careers. 

14.4 Create tools for career exploration, mentoring, 

and building connections across interdisciplinary 


Goal 15: The Board, committee chairs, 

and staff will be well prepared to lead the 

organization with foresight and fiduciary 



15.1 Provide leadership training opportunities 

for all Board members, Committee Chairs, and 

Section Chairs. 

15.2 Create a professional development plan for 

all staff to ensure continued professional growth 

and incorporate best practices in all aspects of 


15.3 Build institutional knowledge and facilitate 

the smooth transfer of operations and relevant 

resources to future society leadership. 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


BSA’s International Affairs Committee met 

this summer prior to Botany 2021. We are 

happy to share with you some details about 

the committee and what issues we have been 

discussing recently. Members of the committee 

include Hugo Cota-Sanchez (Chair); Cecilia 

Zumajo (Student Representative); Johanne 

Brunet; Suman Neupane; Shengchen Shan; 

Heather Cacanindin, Executive Director, 

ex officio; Melanie Link-Perez, Program 

Director, ex officio; and Michael Donoghue, 

President, ex officio.

The International Affairs Committee aims 

to link BSA with other national botanical 

societies outside the United States and to 

connect BSA members to international 

botanical events, including the International 

Botanical Congress (IBC), which is held every 

six years. The committee seeks to support 

young botanists attending the IBC, as well 

as other important international meetings. 

The committee informs the Society regarding 

international activities impacting the study of 

plants through articles in the  Plant Science 

Bulletin, symposiums and colloquium at the 

annual Botany meetings, and other activities. 

Each year, new members join the committee 

as the same number of members rotates 

off. This committee is chaired by a member 

serving their third year on the committee.

At our recent meeting, we spent a good deal 

of time discussing international botanical 

meetings that are in the works.  We would 

like to make our membership aware of the 


• Latin American Botanical Congress – 

Cuba (month TBD) 2022

• Mexican Botanical Congress – October 


• Annual Meeting of the Canadian 

Botanical Association – Canada (month 

TBD) 2022

• National Botanical Congress – Brazil 

(month TBD) 2022 

• International Congress of Sexual Plant 

Reproduction - Prague, Czech Republic, 

June 2022 (


• International Conference on Botany 

and Plant Science – Helsinki, Finland, 

July 2022 (



• Association of Tropical Biology and 

Conservation – Cartagena, Colombia, 

July 2022

• International Botanical Congress

Madrid, Spain, July 2024

If you know of any upcoming international 

activity or events that should be shared with 

our BSA community, please email those 

to  so we can add 

them to our list and assist in their promotion.

In December 2021, BSA will send out a call 

for committee service applications. We will be 

seeking two new members for the International 

Affairs Committee and one student 

representative as well. Please consider applying 

for committee service and joining in 2022!



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PSB 67(3) 2021




For more information about the committee, see


(Compiled by IAC, July 2021)


• Botanical Society of China: http://


• China Wild Plant Conservation Association 



• Asociación Colombiana de Botánica: https://


• FaceBook:



• Sociedad Cubana de Botánica: http://www.


• Czech Botanical Society:  https://botanospol.



• Botanical Society of Denmark: https://bota-


• Federation of European Societies of Plant 



• Societé Botanique de France: https://societe-


• German Society for Plant Sciences: https://



• Sociedad Argentina de Botánica: https://bo-


• Australian Native Plant Society: http://anpsa.


• Australasian Systematic Botany Society Inc.:


• The Royal Botanical Society of Belgium


• Sociedade Botánica de São Paulo: https://bo-

• Sociedade Botánica do Brasil: https://www.


•  Canadian Botanical Association / 

L’Association Botanique du Canada: https://

• Canadian Wildlife Federation: https://cwf-fcf.




• Nature Conservancy of Canada: https://www.


• Sociedad Botáncia de Chile: http://socbo-

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PSB 67(3) 2021




Great Britain and Ireland

• Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland:

Internet Directory for Botany

• Botanical societies, international botanical 




• Indian Botanical Society: https://indianbot-


• The Israeli Society of Plant Sciences: https://


• Società Botanica Italiana: https://www.soci-

• International Union for the Conservation of 


International Union for the Conservation of Nature



• Botanical Society of Japan (BSJ): https://bsj.


• Asociación Mexicana de Orquideología, 


• Sociedad Botánica de México: https://www.

• Sociedad Mexicana de Cactología, A.C.:



• Association of Systematic Biologists of the 



• Polish Botanical Society: https://pbsociety.


• Sociedad Botánica Española: http://www.rjb.



• Swiss Botanical Society:  https://botanica-

United Stares of America

• American Society of Plant Taxonomists:

• Botanical Society of America:

• California Native Plant Society: https://www.

• The Nature Conservancy

• Torrey Botanical Society: http://www.torrey-

• Southern Appalachian Botanical Society:

Other International Societies

• International Association for Plant Taxono-


• The International Compositae Alliance:

AASP – The Palynological Society:  https://   

• The International Organisation of Palaeo-


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PSB 67(3) 2021


A Personal Account by 

Mary Sagatelova, MPA

Public affairs—and by extension public 

policy—can broadly be defined as purposeful 

action taken by the government in order to 

address a general issue. Seemingly simple but 

fraught with complexity, the field of public 

affairs is often overlooked as one of the most 

important professional fields in our society. 

Every niche within society is affected in 

some capacity by government affairs and the 

implementation of public policy. Perhaps most 

salient is the effect of public policy decisions 

on science and scientific research. Policy 

decisions have the capability of prioritizing 

research areas, blocking or authorizing 

projects, and most importantly, funding our 

work through federal allocation.



Each year, the BSA Public Policy Committee awards two early-career botanists the opportunity to 

attend the American Institute of Biological Sciences’ Congressional visits Day. This event is hosted by 

the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition, and recipients obtain first-hand experience at the 

interface of science and public policy. The first day includes a half-day training session on science 

funding and how to effectively communicate with policymakers provided by AIBS. Participants then 

meet with their Congressional policymakers, during which they will advocate for federal support of 

scientific research. This article details the experiences of this year’s recipients.

As a graduate student studying Evolution, 

Ecology, and Organismal Biology, I am 

extremely cognizant of the potential policy 

implications of scientific research, especially 

within botanical research. Seldom do I come 

across research that does not reference policy 

application in the real world. The more I saw 

these policy connections, the more I became 

interested in working at this intersection of 

science and policy. As such, I felt incredibly 

honored by the opportunity to be recognized 

by the Botanical Society of America as a Public 

Policy Award recipient, and to be afforded 

the opportunity to attend the 2021 Virtual 

Congressional Visits Day. 

The first two days, I participated in a virtual 

communications boot camp through the 

American Institute of the Biological Sciences 

(AIBS). Despite the virtual setting, I was able 

to meet and connect with fellow graduate 

students, postdocs, professors, and botanical 

professionals, all while learning about the 

specifics of the policy process. This training 

covered a wide range of topics! We were 

provided with the tools necessary to craft 

exceptional elevator pitches, interact with 

the media, and effectively communicate our 

message to decision makers. Through a variety 

of multimedia resources, practice pitches, and 

interviews, the training provided through 

AIBS was instrumental in preparing me for 

the virtual congressional visits! 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


Working within a regional pairing, I 

successfully met with the offices of five different 

congressmen across Indiana and Ohio. In these 

meetings, we advocated for enhanced funding 

for the National Science Foundation (NSF), 

specifically encouraging representatives and 

senators to approve the proposed $10.2 billion 

budget for NSF. Further, we asked for support 

for the then-newly introduced Research 

Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act. 

This act would authorize approximately $25 

billion across different federal agencies to be 

allocated to independent research institutions, 

national laboratories, and universities, with 

the specific intent of addressing pandemic 

related disruptions to research and learning. 

Each of us shared anecdotes of how NSF 

funding has been instrumental in our home 

states, universities, and labs, elaborating on 

how the pandemic has affected our research 

and the benefits of increased funding. 

Over two days, we met Senator Michael Braun 

(R-ID), Representative Trey Hollingsworth 

(R-ID), and the offices of Senator Sherrod 

Brown (D-OH), Senator Rob Portman (R-

OH), and Senator Todd Young (R-ID). 

Each meeting was a unique experience in 

which we were able to apply the training we 

received just a few days prior and successfully 

communicate our messages in advocating for 

increased scientific funding. I was particularly 

encouraged by the office of Senator Brown, 

who intended to introduce policy specifically 

targeting systemic issues within STEM. 

Specifically, Brown’s office asked about our 

experiences in STEM and shared intentions 

of increasing funding to remove barriers in 

STEM for minority groups, as well as creating 

new government jobs for more scientists!  

I am incredibly fortunate that I was able 

to participate in the AIBS training and the 

virtual congressional visits. Public policy often 

seems like an impervious and intimidating 

field because of the perceived complexity of 

politics. However, through this experience, I 

was able to build the basic skills and experience 

necessary to effectively confer on public policy 

and communicate science professionally. I 

look forward to building upon these skills and 

continued scientific advocacy. 

(Mary is from the College of Arts and Sciences 

Department of Evolution, Ecology, and 

Organismal Biology; The John Glenn College of 

Public Affairs Public Policy and Management)

Taylor AuBuchon-Elder’s 


I was fortunate enough to receive BSA’s 

Public Policy Award in 2020 just prior 

to the beginning of the pandemic in the 

United States. My fellow award recipient, 

Mary, and I were planning accommodations 

and preparing for the whirlwind that is 

Congressional Visits Day (CVD) to argue for 

NSF funding. Sadly, we never made it there in 

person; but I think this year’s virtual format 

for both the American Institute of Biological 

Sciences (AIBS) Communications Bootcamp 

and CVD was an incredible success. I feel 

truly grateful that I was able to be a part of it.

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PSB 67(3) 2021


The AIBS Communications Bootcamp’s 

success, I believe, was because of Dr. Jyotsna 

Pandey and the supportive and welcoming 

attendees. Jyotsna led us through two days of 

lectures, group exercises, and career panels—

all of which I found to be enlightening and 

challenging. One thing I think scientists can 

always improve upon is our communication 

of scientific ideas, especially in our areas of 

expertise. A group exercise where you have to 

describe your work’s purpose in 1 minute will 

definitely help get you there!

To prepare for our meetings with 

representatives, we reviewed best practices 

for talking to policy makers: Why should 

they care? What motivates them? Are they 

up for re-election? While we went over 

communication strategies collectively, our 

job as individuals was to read up on our 

own representatives—their voting record, 

committees on which they serve, political 

viewpoints, etc. I live in Missouri so I have 

been aware of my representatives’ conservative 

voting record when it comes to federal 

spending, but I was optimistic we could make 

a strong argument for basic research funding 

given the last year’s strong reliance on robust 

science. I was assigned to Representative Ann 

Wagner (R-MO), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), 

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO)—along with my 

partner, Claire’s, representatives in Tennessee, 

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and 

Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN). We knew asking 

for increased federal funding for the NSF was 

going to be a tall order.

Our asks on behalf of the AIBS were $10.2 

billion for NSF for FY 2022, President Biden’s 

budget request, an increase from FY 2021’s 

$8.5 billion, and for our representatives 

to support or co-sponsor the Research 

Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) 

Act to address pandemic-related disruptions 

and closures in basic research funded by the 

federal government. I’m not sure if there’s ever 

been a more important time to stress the need 

for increased investment and engagement in 

NSF-funded science. We knew it was pertinent 

to tell our stories and bring the message home 

that we all benefit from basic research.

The lab I work in operates almost solely under 

NSF funding; and we specialize in cereal 

crops—more specifically, we study the genetic 

diversity of wild grasses and their relatives, 

with the end goal that this knowledge will 

provide other scientists and crop breeders with 

the necessary building blocks for engineering 

more efficient crops in harsher climates. 

This is relevant research being in Missouri, 

considering our annual corn production value 

in 2020 was around $2.4 billion. The current 

project we’re working on under NSF funding 

also directly employs around 30 people at 

several research institutions—truly exciting, 

multi-faceted, and collaborative work. When 

talking with my representatives, I wanted to 

highlight that.

One hurdle the project faced early on was 

a large cut to its budget—half of it—when 

the NSF-PGRP was specifically targeted in 

2018. I’m not sure why someone somewhere 

decided the Plant Genome Research Program 

needed half the money; maybe it was the 

idea that there is “too much” basic research 

funding out there—something we heard 

when talking to a legislative staffer during 

CVD. I admittedly was taken aback slightly 

by that idea. And while I did not necessarily 

have a retort specifically prepared for it, I 

was able to draw from my own experience 

in budget cuts. Because our project’s budget 

was cut so significantly, we actually lost 

the translational part of the work—going 

from a project focused on basic research for 

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directly applied results in crops, to a project 

heavily focused on just the basic stuff. So 

while some Congressional offices vote to cut 

basic research funding to shift focus to more 

applied work; ironically, they inadvertently 

disrupt the downstream applications of said 

basic research. I highlighted this point during 

our meeting with a legislative staffer, and I 

hope it resonated.

The rest of our meetings went on without a hitch 

and were generally pleasant and productive, 

except for one no-show. Virtual meetings 

may not be everyone’s favorite, but I think it 

was fairly conducive for our purposes, with a 

strict start time and limited interruptions, as 

I’m sure would not have been the case if we 

were running around Capitol Hill! We made 

our cases to the staffers, and they talked to us 

about where their bosses stood and what their 

current priorities were. Just before we began 

our meetings, we were made aware of the 

Endless Frontier Act, a large sweeping funding 

bill that would pump an historical amount of 

money into federally funded science, even 

creating a new Directorate at the NSF. The bill 

was making its rounds around Congress and 

it seemed to be taking up a lot of everyone’s 

time, so it came up frequently after we made 

our case for NSF funding.

I’m sincerely grateful for the opportunity to 

have attended CVD on behalf of BSA. It was 

an exciting, educational, and tiring few days 

training for and meeting with Congressional 

staffers. I learned firsthand how initiatives 

and situations can change in a minute and 

how succinct and effective we have to be at 

arguing for basic research funding (and how 

important it is to stay involved!).

(Taylor is from the Donald Danforth Plant 

Science Center, St. Louis, MO)

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections

Join our global community dedicated to the preservation, conservation

and management of natural history collections

SPNHC 2022: hosted by Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland, UK 

SPNHC 2023: hosted by California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, USA, May 28-June 2, 2023

“It’s pronounced “SPINACH!”





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Tell us a little about yourself as  a SciCommer. 

When did you become active? What 

platforms do you use?

Naomi Volain  (NV):  I’ve always been a 

science communicator in some form in 

my career—nutrition, medical advertising, 

science teaching and education—but it 

wasn’t until 2020 that I started creating plant 

and science Comic strips. I put them on the 

Comics page of my website, Plants Go Global. 

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn 

are my social platforms. 

Giovanna Romero (GR): I started as a 

SciCommer a year ago. I use Twitter, Instagram 

and Facebook platforms. These platforms are 

linked to BIOWEB Ecuador. BIOWEB is a 

webpage managed by Catholic University of 

Ecuador. I post every Monday morning about 

native plants of Ecuador. The goal is that people 

get interested in Ecuadorian plant diversity. 

Generally, I upload pictures that I take every 

time I go to the field in private preserved areas 

or National Parks. When I go to the field, to me, 

it is challenging because plants in the Tropics 

have varying blooming times. I take pictures 

of plants that I think would be attractive to 

people (based on flower color, flower forms, 

sori form, endemism, habit). Then, I identify 

and post them. Sometimes, identification 

takes time and it can even require a visit to 

local herbaria, like QCA.


Teressa Alexander (TA): I love communicating 

plant science through intriguing articles I’ve 

read about different plants, but I mainly focus 

on cacao trees. My topics surround cropping 

systems, climate change, social and economic 

issues surrounding the cacao crop. I use 

Instagram and Twitter (fairly new to Twitter) 

to communicate this work. 

Jacob Suissa & Ben Goulet-Scott (SG): Let’s 

Botanize (@letsbotanize) is an Instagram-

based science communication series using 

plant life to teach about ecology, evolution, and 

biodiversity through engaging photography 

and thoughtfully produced videos. As 

gardening and outdoor recreation increase in 

popularity, we are creating a digestible entry 

point for a broad audience to indulge their 

curiosity about plant life and biology more 

generally. We started in January 2021 and are 

active on Instagram and YouTube.

At Botany 2021, the BSA hosted the second annual SciComm Celebration. 

Plant Science Bulletin 

is pleased to highlight several of the SciCommers active in the Botanical community.  Editor 

Mackenzie Taylor reached out this fall to ask about their experiences and advice. Below are 

highlights from their responses and information about how to follow them.

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What are your strategies for being an 

effective SciCommer and/or what have you 

learned while engaging in SciComm?

NV: I’m really careful to get the science right, 

to make sure the art is expressive, and to be 

sure that the text teaches and entertains. The 

small space limits of a Comic panel force me 

to pare down the information into quick bites. 

I’m also mindful of the speed people consume 

media, so I work to make my art and words a 

quick view.  

GR: I began with no experience as a 

SciCommer. Actually, I did not know 

about it until I read in a tweet, posted by 

Botanical Society of America, that what I 

was doing is called “SciCommer.” It has been 

a learning process and it is still. I started 

with no strategies, but I have learned a lot. 

My strategies now to engage people with 

my posts are combining good pictures with 

interesting facts about the plant species 

being presented.

TA:  I use photography and chart designs 

to explain information on topics relevant 

to cocoa research, plant biomechanics, and 

climate change. By sharing, I’ve learned 

about other interesting work in these areas 

from other plant scientists/enthusiasts.

SG: As we created content for Let’s Botanize, 

over time we realized that plant life is a 

much more effective substrate for teaching 

about ecology and evolution than we 

initially appreciated. For example, plants are 

plentiful and stationary, meaning it is easy 

to closely observe and interact with them in 

natural settings. Also, as the foundational 

organisms in most ecosystems, they provide 

ample opportunity for discussing ecological 

processes. Most people are also already 

familiar with the incredible variation 

expressed in plants (e.g., the diversity found 

in an arboretum, a nursery, or on your dinner 

plants) that allows one to see how mutations 

arise and lead to evolution in real time. In 

addition, we are both PhD Candidates at 

Harvard University in the department of 

Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, with 

a focus on plant evolution, so we are able to 

leverage our academic expertise. 

What is the most difficult thing about 

engaging in SciComm?

NV: The nagging feeling to be constantly 

present in social media. 

GR: Posts must be very precise. So, to make 

the story interesting and short is difficult.

TA: I think the most difficult thing about 

engaging in SciComm is staying consistent 

with content sharing. As a current graduate 

student, I think there has to be a structured 

plan of action in order to execute content 

sharing consistently.

SG:  Determining the fine line between too 

much and too little detail. We want to keep 

our audience engaged and teach them new 

things without losing them in technicalities.

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What do you consider your strongest 

measure of success in SciComm (e.g., 

number of followers, personal engagement, 

getting paid for your work)?

NV: The strongest measure is the feedback. 

Hearing from people personally, beyond the 

number of likes or followers deepens the 

meaning of what I’m seeking to accomplish, 

which is to create Comics that entertain, 

educate, and connect people with plants. 

Today I heard Olympic gymnast great Simone 

Biles say, “I’m more than my medals.” This 

resonated for me. But yes, monetary feedback 

would surely validate my feeling of success!

GR:  I would say, the strongest measure of 

success in SciComm is the number of likes 

in every post and sometimes when someone 

asks a question or comments about the post.

TA: I consider the strongest measure of success 

in SciComm to be engagement. When people 

are engaging with your call of action, giving 

feedback, asking questions, or just sharing 

your content, it shows how impactful your 

content is. As a result of high engagement, 

gradual increases in followers and eventually 

getting paid for your work will occur. 

SG: Number of followers, and positive 

comments/engagement with our work. Also 

our connections with larger institutions such 

as The Arnold Arboretum, Harvard Museum 

of Science and Culture, and LabXchange.

What has changed about being a SciCommer 

while you have been active?

NV: The need for truth and communicating 

in science is even more critical since the start 

of the COVID pandemic. What’s especially 

needed now is for the public to learn, to truly 

understand how the process of science works 

to gain knowledge. 

GR: Well, the fact that I was chosen to 

participate as a SciCommer in Botany 2021 

changed the way I see this activity. To me it was 

unthinkable that posting about Ecuadorian 

plants could be shown in a Conference. Being 

a SciCommer made me understand that it is 

possible to communicate through platforms 

and reach a wide range of people.

TA: Platforms such as TikTok and new 

Instagram features like reels have encouraged 

new creative ways for SciCommers to engage 

with their audience. The way I communicate 

science can be diversified while reaching 

broader audiences with increased creativity. 

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SG:  We have been active for less than a year, 

so not much. We still feel like we are learning 

how to improve ourselves each day. 

What would you like people to know 

about SciComm?

NV: Communicating science brings science, 

scientists, and the scientific process to the 

world. SciComm is a deliberate, unique 

initiative focused on this! 

GR: SciComm is a rewarding activity, and it is 

a way to engage people to know about plants.

TA:  SciComm is a great way to challenge 

misinformation and breakdown the 

complexities of scientific language making it 

useful and accessible to everyone. 

SG: It’s fun and rewarding, but doing it well 

takes a lot of forethought, planning, and time. 

The BSA is pleased to announce the addition 

of Tricia Jackson, CPA as the Society’s new 

accounting manager. She reports to Executive 

Director, Heather Cacaninidin.

Tricia comes to the BSA from public accounting, 

where she specialized in audit and assurance 

services for non-profit and healthcare clients 

in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.  She also 

has more than 4 years of non-profit experience 

working in various accounting roles.

Her other interests include cooking, hiking 

through local and state parks, getting lost in 

jigsaw puzzles, and hanging out with her two 

pet rabbits, Buns and Jolene.

Tricia can be reached at




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(BSA in association with the Teaching Section and Education Committee)

Dr. Montgomery is an outstanding scientist 

and one of the foremost ambassadors 

of Botany today. Not only has she made 

significant and lasting contributions to 

our understanding of determinants of 

cyanobacterial cell shape, signaling, and light 

dependent Physiology but she has also burst 

onto the scene as a public intellectual and 

authority on plant science and mentoring. 

With a huge Twitter following, she engages 

and challenges us through sharing her science 

and research on pedagogy through social 

media, podcasts, online seminars, and special 

lectures both for her scientific colleagues and 

for the general public. Beronda is also one of 

the co-founders of #BlackBotanistsWeek.

Her extraordinary and innovative approaches 

to mentoring and teaching are documented 

in a number of peer-reviewed articles 

on pedagogy, mentoring and diversity in 

STEM. In her work, she links the domains 

of plant science and mentoring while 

sharing that mentees, like plants, flourish 

or struggle based on their environment—

not as a result of any inherent deficiency. 

Dr. Montgomery has been described as a 

visionary, an outstanding educator, and an 

engaging source of inspiration by colleagues 

and students alike. Her transformative 

leadership encourages and enables others 

to become more deeply engaged in teacher-

scholar outreach and training. As one of her 

nominators described, “Prof. Montgomery is 

a giant walking among us. Her scholarship 

around equity-engaged mentorship has 

awakened multiple generations of plant 

scientists of a pathway to do better. She has 

brought acclaim and welcome attention 

to plant science, and has forged a unique 

melding of her science, her advocacy and her 

teaching…. I can think of no one who better 

fits the criteria of the Bessey Award or who is 

more deserving of public recognition for her 

work on behalf of all of us.”



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Corresponding members are distinguished senior scientists who have made outstanding contribu-

tions to plant science and who live and work outside of the United States of America. Corresponding 

members are nominated by the Council, which reviews recommendations and credentials submitted 

by members, and elected by the membership at the annual BSA business meeting. Corresponding 

members have all the privileges of life-time members.

Dr. Peter Linder                Prof. Jianquan Liu         Dr. Marie-Stéphanie Samain



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 Soci-

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

ing 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.

Kamil E. Frankiewicz, Alexei Oskolski, Łukasz Banasiak, Francisco Fernandes, Jean-

Pierre Reduron, Jorge-Alfredo Reyes-Betancort, Liliana Szczeparska, Mohammed 

Alsarraf, Jakub Baczyński, Krzysztof Spalik

Parallel evolution of arborescent carrots (Daucus) in Macaronesia  American Journal of 

Botany 107(3): 394-412 (March 2020)





The Margaret Menzel Award is presented by the Genetics Section for the outstanding paper presented 

in the contributed papers sessions of the annual meetings


Irene Liao, Duke University, For the presentation: Identifying candidate genes contributing to 

nectar trait divergence in the selfing syndrome (Co-authors: Gongyuan Cao, Joanna Rifkin, and 

Mark Rausher)




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The Edgar T. Wherry Award is given for the best paper presented during the contributed papers session of 

the Pteridological Section. This award is in honor of Dr. Wherry’s many contributions to the floristics and 

patterns of evolution in ferns. 

Ana Gabriela Martinez, National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM. Faculty of Higher 

Studies Zaragoza, For the Presentation:  Disentangling the systematics of the Elaphoglossum 

petiolatum complex (Dryopteridaceae) (Co-Author: Alejandra Vasco)

Honorable Mention

Jacob Watts, University of Cambridge, For the Presentation: Microarthropods Increase Sporo-

phyte Formation and Enhance Fitness of Ferns. (Co-Authors: Aidan Harrington, James Watkins)
David Wickell, Cornell University, For the Presentation: Gene fractionation and differential 

expression of homoeologues following whole genome duplication in the tree fern, Alsophila 

spinulosa. (Co-Authors: Fay-Wei Li, Li-Yaung Kuo, Xiong Huang, and Quanzi Li)



Established in 1976, the Isabel Cookson Award recognizes the best student paper presented in the 

Paleobotanical Section.

Michael D’Antonio, Stanford University, For the Presentation: “Sigillaria from the Wuda 

Tuff: the implications of new species and internal anatomy for lepidodendrid life history 

reconstruction.” (Co-Authors: Kevin C. Boyce, Wei-Ming Zhou, and Jun Wang)



This award was established in 1985 with a gift from Dr. Esau and is augmented by ongoing 

contributions from Section members. It is given to the graduate student who presents the 

outstanding paper in developmental and structural botany at the annual meeting.

Molly B. Edwards, Harvard University, For the Presentation: A developmental a transcriptional 

framework for pollinator-driven evolutionary transitions in petal spur morphology in Aquilegia

(columbine). (Co-Authors: Evangeline S. Ballerini and Elena M. Kramer)

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PSB 67(3) 2021



Best Student Oral Presentation

Haley Branch, University of British Columbia, For the Presentation: Historical differences in 

climate between populations alter responses to severe stress. (Co-Authors: Dylan R. Moxley 

and Amy L. Angert)

Best Student Poster

Myriam “Mimi” Serrano, San Francisco State University, For the Presentation: Tracking 

Leaf Trait Differentiation of Newly Diverging Subspecies of Chenopodium oahuense on the 

Hawaiian Islands. (Co-Authors: Jason Cantley and Kevin A. Simonin)



Best Student Oral Presentation

Jianfei Shao, University of Guelph, For the Presentation: Root trait plasticity in response to 

contrasting phosphorus environments and its consequences for plant performance. (Co-

Author: Hafiz Maherali)

Best Student Poster

Gillian Gomer, University of Central Florida, For the Presentation: Consequences of Stress-

Induced Trait Plasticity in Cultivated Helianthus. (Co-Authors: Chase Mason and Eric 




The Maynard F. Moseley Award was established in 1995 to honor a career of dedicated teaching, scholarship, 

and service to the furtherance of the botanical sciences. Dr. Moseley, known to his students as “Dr. Mo”, died 

Jan. 16, 2003 in Santa Barbara, CA, where he had been a professor since 1949. He was widely recognized 

for his enthusiasm for and dedication to teaching and his students, as well as for his research using floral 

and wood anatomy to understand the systematics and evolution of angiosperm taxa, especially waterlilies. 

(PSB, Spring, 2003). The award is given to the best student paper, presented in either the Paleobotanical 

or Developmental and Structural sessions, that advances our understanding of plant structure in an 

evolutionary context.

Harold Suarez Baron,  University of Antioquia, For the Presentation:  Developmental and 

genetic mechanisms underlying trichome formation in the Aristolochia (Aristolochiaceae: 

Piperales) perianth. (Co-Authors: Favio González, Soraya Pelaz, Juan Fernando Alzate, Barbara 

Ambrose, and Natalia Pabon Mora)

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PSB 67(3) 2021



Mimi Serrano,  San Francisco State University, Advisor:  Dr. Kevin Simonin, For the 

Presentation: Tracking Leaf Trait Differentiation of Newly Diverging Subspecies of Chenopodium 

oahuense on the Hawaiian Islands

Laura Super, University of British Columbia, Advisor: Dr. Robert Guy, For the Presentation: The 

impact of simulated climate change and nitrogen deposition on conifer phytobiomes and associated 

vegetation (Co-author: Dr. Robert Guy)

Yingtong Wu,  University of Missouri - St. Louis, Advisor: Dr.  Robert E. Ricklefs, For the 

Presentation: What Limits Species Ranges? Investigating the Effects of Biotic and Abiotic Factors on 

Oaks (Quercus spp.) through Experiments and Field Survey (Co-author: Dr. Robert E. Ricklefs)



Best Student Ethnobotany Poster

Kaylan Reddy, Stellenbosch University, For the Poster: Sceletium Secrets - Exploring the 

phytochemical and metabolomic diversity in the Sceletium genus. (Co-Authors: Gary Ivan 

Stafford and Nokwanda Makunga)

Best Student Crops and Wild Relatives Poster

Juan Diego Rojas-Gutierrez, Purdue University, For the Poster: Genome-wide association 

analysis of freezing tolerance in soft red winter wheat. (Co-Authors: Gwonjin Lee and 

Christopher Oakley)



Liz Mahood, Cornell University, For the Presentation: Leveraging Integrative Omics Analyses 

for Stress-Responsive Metabolic Pathway Elucidation in Brachypodium. (Co-Authors: Lars 

Kruse, Alexandra Bennett, Armando Bravo, Maryam Ishka, Chinmaey Kelkar, Yulin Jiang, 

Maria Harrison, Olean Vatamaniuk, and Gaurav Moghe)

Honorable Mention

Thiti Suttiyut, Purdue University, For the Presentation: Investigating the biochemical 

evolution of the shikonin pathway in red gromwell (Lithospermum erythrorhizon). (Co-

Authors: Robert Auber, Manoj Ghaste, Jennifer Wisecaver, and Joshua Widhalm)

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By David J. Asai

Senior Director, Science 


Howard Hughes Medical 


[Editor’s Note: David Asai spoke at Botany 2021 for the 
Belonging in Botany Lecture, Perspectives on DEI.]

The children’s story The Little Red Hen

(Dodge, 1874) is a metaphor for inertia. In 

her efforts to be a change agent, the Little 

Red Hen collided with the barriers protecting 

the barnyard’s center of power. In this essay, 

I present some thoughts on race, culture 

change, and responsibility, and conclude with 

my version of the tale of the Little Red Hen.


(WEST, 1993)

Race matters to all of us, regardless of our 

skin color or whether we are a victim of overt 

discrimination. Race and racism are deeply 

rooted in our national identity. Racism is not 

a problem only for persons of color; it is an 

American problem. 

The Little Red Hen 

and Culture Change

From our nation’s beginning, the racialization 

of people has been used by the white center 

of power to define who belongs and who does 

not—who may immigrate, become a citizen, 

vote, own property, and whom a person may 

marry (Lepore, 2018). The term “white center 

of power” is not about the skin color of those 

who are in power or those who are on the 

outside looking in. Instead, the “white center 

of power” refers to a social structure created 

by and for persons—almost all male—who 

descended from white northern European 

immigrants. Their perspectives became the 

norms of our society, our economy, our 

educational system, and our science.


The racialization of people and how it 

has become weaponized is inextricably 

rooted in science. The leading scientists of 

their time wrongly claimed that there are 

genetically distinct human races that evolved 

independently (see, e.g., Gould, 1981). This 

idea, in turn, allowed for the racialized 

ranking of humans in terms of intelligence, 

industriousness, ingenuity, sexuality, and 

criminal behavior. The imprimatur of science 

was the authoritative cover for colonization, 

enslavement, and sterilization. The cells of 

Henrietta Lacks, the men of Tuskegee, the 

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DNA of the Havasupai, the telescopes atop 

Mauna Kea…. these are all reminders that 

science is complicit in perpetuating and 

reinforcing racism. Science helped create the 

present culture of racialization and exclusion, 

and so science has the responsibility of 

replacing the old culture with a new one that 

is centered on equity and inclusion. 


A characteristic of a white-centered system 

is that it is unprepared and unwilling to 

deeply examine race and racism. In the last 

few years, and especially after the video-

recorded murder of George Floyd in May of 

2020, America has, once again, dipped its toe 

into the ocean of systemic racism. We have 

marched in the streets, planted yard signs, 

and toppled statues. Academic buildings 

have been renamed, and carefully worded 

statements claiming allyship with Black Lives 

Matter have been published. But these are 

the easy things, the superficial things. Much 

harder is to change our culture—to walk our 


Even as we boldly declare that now is the 

time for a racial reckoning, too many liberals 

and defenders of free speech are afraid to 

even whisper the words “critical race theory,” 

which recognizes that racism is systemic 

and embedded in our policies and rules, our 

practices and behaviors (see, e.g., George, 

2021). The normalization of the white center 

of power results in policies and rules that 

naturally exclude Black and Brown people. As 

Ezra Klein paraphrased Ibram Kendi (Klein, 

2021), “Racists don’t make racist policies. 

Racist policies make racists.” 

When we use “scientific rigor” as the rationale 

for our lack of diversity… when, in our 

teaching and textbooks, we tell only the stories 

of the white “founding fathers” of science… 

when, in our recruiting of students and hiring 

of faculty, we rely on a person’s pedigree as 

a proxy for worthiness… when we focus on 

individual prizes instead of encouraging 

interdisciplinary collaboration… when we 

do these and other things, we perpetuate the 

white center of power. 


In science, we often refer to a person of color as 

a “URM.” But that’s not right (e.g., Bensimon, 

2016; Williams, 2021). The “M” word has two 

definitions, neither of them appropriate. One, 

“minority” is numerical. But persons of color 

are not the numerical minority; in fact, 85% 

of the world’s population are persons of non-

European ethnicities. The second definition of 

“minority” is a pejorative—defining persons 

as lesser, diminished, and subordinate.

The “UR” part of “URM” stands for 

underrepresented, but underrepresentation is 

the symptom and not the cause. The cause is 

that the culture of science has systematically 

excluded persons of color. Instead of “URM,” 

I use “PEER,” which stands for Persons 

Excluded from science because of their 

Ethnicity or Race (Asai, 2020). PEERs in 

science include Blacks/African Americans, 

Latinx/Hispanic, and persons belonging to 

populations indigenous to the United States 

and its territories. 

The system fails to keep PEERs in STEM 

even though PEERs are well represented at 

the start of the academic pathway. Today, 

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PEERs are 32% of the U.S. population, 37% 

of undergraduates, 21% of STEM bachelor’s 

degrees, 12% of STEM PhDs, and 6% of 

tenured faculty in STEM (NCSES, 2021).

The disproportionate shedding of PEERs 

from STEM is not due to their lack of interest. 

In fact, PEERs are over-represented among 

students entering college intending to study 

STEM. Nor is the disproportionate loss of 

PEERs due simply to their lack of preparation. 

In studies that control for important factors—

including high school math, family interest in 

higher education, and family income—PEERs 

leave STEM at much greater rates than non-

PEERs (Riegle-Crumb, 2019).

Among students entering college, the interest 

in studying STEM is the same for PEERs and 

non-PEERs. But the persistence in STEM by 

each group is vastly different. PEERs intending 

to major in STEM earn the bachelor’s degree 

at only half the rate of non-PEERs, and earn 

the PhD at only one-fourth the rate of non-

PEERs. More alarming is the fact that these 

disparities in persistence have not changed in 

at least three decades (Asai, 2020).



In those three decades, gazillions of dollars 

have been spent on a myriad of programs 

aimed at increasing racial and ethnic diversity 

in science. These interventions include, for 

example, summer bridge programs, programs 

to help students transition from community 

college to the baccalaureate, remedial courses 

and special advising, summer research 

experiences, “minority” supplements to 

federal research grants, and funds for “cluster 

hiring.” Although these programs can benefit 

the participants, they are not sufficient to 

create systemic and sustained change. 

These interventions are examples of a “fix the 

PEER” (or “blame the victim”) mindset. The 

“fix the PEER” mindset has these hallmarks:

• PEERs are treated as a commodity. The 

system rewards us for collecting PEERs—

having more PEERs helps us win train-

ing grants and looks good when we are 

undergoing departmental or university 

review and accreditation. Too often, 

PEERs are invisible except when it’s time 

to illustrate brochures and websites.  

• Interventions are aimed at helping the 

PEER fit in… to assimilate into a scien-

tific culture that is not of their making. 

As a result, PEERs and people from other 

underrepresented groups are unable to be 

their authentic selves when studying and 

working in our institutions.

• And PEERs are often expected to bear 

the burden of change. There are some 

who claim that when Black and Brown 

students dress nicely, show up to class on 

time, sit in the front row, and ask ques-

tions, then institutional racism disap-

pears. And then there’s the “diversity tax,” 

in which a student or faculty member 

from an underrepresented group is asked 

to serve on every committee—admis-

sions, recruiting, advising, “DEI”—be-

cause we depend on them to do our work 

of advancing diversity. 

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Instead of fixing the PEERs, we must change 

the culture of science and science education. 

Culture is not ephemeral—it is structural and 

it is manifested by behaviors (West, 1993). 

In higher education and science, structures 

and behaviors include how we select persons 

who may enter science, the curriculum, the 

policies and procedures that signal whether a 

person belongs in science, and the system that 

rewards certain behaviors.

Changing the culture means recognizing 

PEERs as peers, rather than as a commodity. 

Changing the culture means ensuring that 

our structures—our policies, procedures, 

curriculum, system of rewards—genuinely 

reflect the values and perspectives of all the 

participants, rather than expecting PEERs to 

assimilate. And changing the culture means 

that  we who are currently in charge of the 

system have the responsibility to change the 

system, rather than placing the burden on 


As we strive to change the culture, here are 

three questions that can guide our work:

1. Who gets in and why? If we are 

still relying on standardized tests like 

the SAT and GRE, let us ask our-

selves why. These tests do not ac-

curately predict success in college 

or graduate school (e.g., Hall et al., 

2017), but they correlate well with 

family income and zip code (https://

group-2016.pdf). Success in the pro-

gram is a function of what happens 

during the program rather than what 

the student scored on a standardized 

test before they entered the program.

In recruiting and promotions, let us 

not rely too heavily on academic pedi-

gree and “the old boys network.” Before

we begin searching for more persons 

of color, we—the search committee 

and the hiring department—must first 

be able to clearly articulate why diver-

sity is important to our department, 

rather than depend on the candidates 

to explain to us the value of diversity 

(see Sensoy and DiAngelo, 2017).

2. How do we decide who is wor-

thy of staying? Let us first provide 

all faculty opportunities and incen-

tives to learn inclusive pedagogical 

and mentoring skills. Then let us cre-

ate reliable and fair methods to assess 

the effectiveness and inclusivity of our 

teaching and mentoring. And finally, 

let us include those assessments in our 

rewards system, including promotion 

and tenure.

3. What do we celebrate? In our 

teaching, let us tell the stories of cur-

rent, living scientists from all back-

grounds, instead of only teaching the 

discoveries of the “white founding 

fathers.” And in our newsletters, web-

sites, and awards, let us recognize ac-

complishments of all types, not only 

for individual achievements but also 

for effective collaborations and effec-

tive cross-disciplinary work.


You don’t need my sermon to know what to 

do. As a community, we have plenty of good 

ideas, and we have many persons willing 

to be change agents who are committed to 

implement those ideas. Yet, we remain stuck. 

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Let’s consider what typically happens. We 

go to a meeting or read an essay. We get 

fired up. We see all of the ways that we can 

get better. We create lists of things to do, and 

we debate their relative priorities. We might 

even write a “white paper” or publish a list 

of recommendations. And then we return to 

the realities of our jobs, and we are almost 

instantly consumed and subsumed by the 

daily hard work of everything else we do. We 

might want change, but we just don’t have 

the time to do it. The real barrier to genuine 

culture change is the lack of time

We need time to reflect on how the structures 

of science and science education uphold the 

white center of power, and how we erect 

barriers to preserve the center. We need time 

to learn the skills of inclusion and practice the 

skills of listening, so that we can talk candidly 

about race, racism, and cultural privilege. And 

we need time to hold ourselves accountable by 

taking action, and then assess the effectiveness 

of our actions. 

To make time for reflection, learning, and 

accountability means we also have to not do 

some things. And this brings me to my “what 

if” dreaming. 

What if our department or school were to 

suspend all other activities for a few weeks in 

the autumn so that faculty, staff, and students 

could engage in facilitated reflection and 

learning, then collectively decide on one or two 

things we want to accomplish in the coming 

months. We should set realistic goals that will 

lead to bigger outcomes. For example, we might 

choose to begin the process by examining the 

introductory science curriculum, or dig into 

the criteria for faculty promotion and tenure. 

In the spring, we would again suspend all 

other activities and come together to reflect 

on the past year, to assess our progress, and 

to hold ourselves accountable. And we would 

make this a recurring habit, regularly stepping 

away from everything else to focus on equity 

and inclusion. 

Of course, there are millions of reasons why we 

can’t try my idea. But if equity and inclusion 

are really institutional values, if we truly want 

to become allies to PEERs, if we really aspire 

to be anti-racist, then we must find a way to 

learn how to walk our talk, to truly change 

our culture. Culture change does not happen 

because of fancy rhetoric or strategic plans; 

it will happen only when we find the time to 

change our structures and behaviors. The goal 

of diversity through equity is far too important 

for us to give up just because it is hard, or 

because it is new, or because it makes us 

uncomfortable, or because we don’t have time. 

Let us all commit to culture change through 

reflection, learning, and accountability. Now 

is the time to begin.   



One spring day, the Little Red Hen had an 

idea. She thought that it would be a great 

improvement to the barnyard if they could add 

some diversity to their menu. Instead of the 

daily pecking at dried corn and munching of 

hay, the citizens of the barnyard would benefit 

from having some freshly baked bread in their 

diet. “What an improvement that would be!” 

thought the Little Red Hen. “Bread will enable 

some barnyard citizens who cannot easily 

digest hay or dried corn to obtain important 

nourishment. It will make us all stronger.” 

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So the Little Red Hen asked the citizens of the 

barnyard to help her. “Who will help me till 

the soil and plant the seed? Who will help me 

weed the field and water the soil? Who will 

help me harvest the wheat and mill the grain? 

And who will help me bake the bread?” 

The Little Red Hen asked the barnyard dog 

if he could help. “I really admire your spunk 

and all, but the barnyard has survived just 

fine without baked bread. If it’s not broken, 

don’t fix it, I always say. And this doesn’t affect 

me anyway because the farmer feeds me dog 

food,” he replied. 

Next was the barnyard cow, the most senior 

citizen of the barnyard, who responded, “I 

don’t want to be part of this conversation 

because it sounds like you’re being critical 

of our current diet, and that makes me 

uncomfortable and feel guilty. I don’t want to 

be blamed for the fact that we didn’t try this 

idea many years ago.”

The barnyard pig was next. “Now then,” he 

said. “Miss Hen, you go right ahead and try 

out your nice little idea. Of course, I’m busy 

with all of my enormous responsibilities here 

so I don’t have the time to help—but I know 

you’ll do a good job and I’ll be watchin’!”

And finally the Billy Goat, who was the boss 

of the barnyard. “To show you how much 

I support your work, I’ll arrange for you to 

be able to apply for a grant so that you can 

purchase some of the farming equipment 

you’re going to need.”

Because no one was able to help, the Little 

Red Hen went ahead by herself. She learned 

how to grow the wheat, mill the grain, and 

bake the bread. Of course, along the way, she 

made some mistakes but learned from them 

and, in the end, just as the Little Red Hen had 

predicted, the bread was good and all of the 

barnyard enjoyed the new item in their diet.

And so it came to pass that every year the Little 

Red Hen went about her tasks—she tilled the 

soil and planted the seeds, she weeded the field 

and watered the soil, she harvested the wheat 

and milled the grain, she baked the bread and 

everyone enjoyed eating the bread. 

Then one day it happened: the Little Red Hen 

decided to retire. And because the dog and 

the cow and the pig and the goat and all the 

other citizens of the barnyard had not learned 

the skills of farming and milling and baking, 

because none of them had had the courage 

to change, because none of them had had the 

time to try new ideas, because none of them 

had been willing to share in the responsibility, 

the barnyard never again had freshly baked 




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Asai, D. J. 2020. Race matters. Cell 181: 754-757. 
Bensimon, E.M. 2016. The misbegotten URM 

as a data point. Center for Urban Education, 

University of Southern California. Website:

Dodge, M. M. 1874. The Little Red Hen. St. 

Nicholas vol. 1, part 2: 680-681. Scribner.
George, J. 2021. A lesson on Critical Race 

Theory.  Human Rights Magazine vol. 46, 

no. 2. American Bar Association. Website:



Gould, S. J. 1981. The Mismeasure of Man

W.W. Norton, New York.
Hall, J. D., A. B. O’Connell, and J. G. Cook. 

2017. Predictors of student productivity in 

biomedical graduate school applications. 

PLoS One 12: e0169121.
Klein, E. 2021. Transcript. Ezra Klein inter-

views Ibram Kendi. New York Times, July 

16, 2021. Website: https://www.nytimes.



Lepore, J. 2018. These Truths: A History of 

the United States. W.W. Norton, New York. 
National Center for Science and Engineering 

Statistics (NCSES). 2021. Women, Minori-

ties, and Persons with Disabilities in Science 

and Engineering. National Science Foun-

dation. Website:

Riegle-Crumb, C., B. King, and Y. Irizarry. 

2019. Does STEM stand out? Examining 

racial/ethnic gaps in persistence across post-

secondary fields. Educational Researcher 48: 

Sensoy, Ö. and R. DiAngelo. 2017. “We are 

all for diversity, but…”: How faculty hiring 

committees reproduce whiteness and prac-

tical suggestions for how they can change. 

Harvard Educational Review 87: 557-580. 
West, C. 1963. Race Matters. Beacon Press, 

Williams, T. L. 2020. ‘Underrepresented Mi-

nority’ Considered Harmful, Racist Language. 

Communications of the ACM. Website: https://



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A colleague of mine just sent me the link to 

this article from Science, by Natalia Aristizábal 

(June 3, 2021): “I bombed the GRE—but I’m 

thriving as a Ph.D. student” (https://www.


I have been arguing for years that the GRE 

is discriminatory, and my colleague, who is 

the chair of our department, heard my pleas 

to eliminate the GRE requirement from 

our programs. He organized a committee 

to investigate the issue and, unfortunately, 

they decided to keep the GRE requirement 

with some assurance that it would not be 

the defining criteria for admission to our 

programs. I have my doubts.

I would like to share my story of how I 

circumvented the GRE requirement while 

getting into a Ph.D. program at a prestigious 

university in upstate NY in 1971. I am 

dyslexic and consequently I read very slowly. 

I have never done well on standardized tests 

because I cannot finish these tests in the 

Opinion:  It’s Time to Eliminate 

Standardized Tests for 

Graduate School Admissions

time allotted. I always score way below my 

intellectual level. I applied to a Ph.D. program 

without submitting my scores—stating that 

I had not yet taken the exam. I was accepted 

provisionally because I had transferred all 

excellent grades from a master’s program at 

another school. The conditions were that I 

would take the GRE and submit the scores at 

a later time. I had no intention of doing that 

and each time the advisor of the program 

asked for my GRE scores I told him I was 

planning to take them. This went on for the 

four years I was in my Ph.D. program. Finally, 

they stopped asking, especially because I had 

excellent grades in the courses I was required to 

take and I had passed my oral comprehensive 

exams for the Ph.D. I submitted my thesis, 

defended by oral presentation, and applied for 

and was accepted to a research fellowship at 

an esteemed University in the UK. Ironically, 

that University did not recognize American 

Ph.D.s—they only honored degrees from two 

other UK universities—and when I arrived 

they awarded me a Master’s degree based on 

my Ph.D., so that I could do research and 

teach in their programs.

When I returned to the states and obtained 

a teaching job at a small liberal arts college 

in upstate New York, I always gave students 

as much time as required to complete their 

exams. If we had to vacate the classroom 

before they were done, I would take the 

students to my office or my lab to finish their 

By Professor Lee B. Kass

Cornell University, Plant 

Breeding & Genetics Section; 


Division of Plant & Soil 

Sciences, West Virginia 


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tests. I never wanted my students to be placed 

in the situation where they did poorly on a 

test because they did not have enough time to 


The statement by Natalia Aristizábal’s 

professor rang so true for me: “…the GRE is a 

better measure of race, ethnicity, and income 

than academic ability.” I am the first person 

in my family to go on for graduate work. My 

parents were first-generation Americans and 

only two other members of their immediate 

family had gone to college. Neither of my 

parents completed high school. I was blessed 

to attend an undergraduate college in New 

York City that had no tuition in the mid-

1960s but did require excellent high school 

grades and the SAT for entry. And at that 

time, females needed higher high school 

grades than males to be accepted. Of course I 

was admitted provisionally at first because my 

grades on the SAT were abominable. The cost 

of taking these tests placed a financial burden 

on me and my family. I also worked full time 

while an undergraduate. 

Many students who entered Ph.D. programs 

were admitted based on excellent GRE scores, 

but often these same students dropped out 

within the first few years. Possibly because 

they knew how to take standardized tests 

but had no understanding of how research 

requires working hard for long hours, and 

sometimes having to restart a project because 

a hypothesis did not provide expected results. 

I encourage all colleges and universities 

to reconsider their requirements for these 

discriminator exams and let students prove 

themselves by their productivity in courses 

and research. 

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60 years ago

“The interaction between botany and politics is of course exemplified by the well-known support by 

the Communist party of [Soviet biologist Trofim] Lysenko’s doctrines. This has severely limited the 

plant and animal breeding programs and thus set Soviet agriculture even more behind that of the West 

than it was before the revolution. Also scientifically, by stopping the development of genetics, it has 

excluded the Soviets from the immense modern development in this field, which has done so much to 

enrich other areas of biology and especially biochemistry. As a practical matter, with the huge plantings 

of corn they now have in the Ukraine and even north above Moscow, it has denied them the increased 

yields due to hybrid corn, estimated to average 30 per cent. It is rumored that the Agricultural Acad-

emy, until recently presided over by Lysenko, is to be abolished, on account of its not having served the 

Union effectively. This (if true) might well be only a device for reducing Lysenko’s power.”

--Remarks of retiring BSA President Kenneth V. Thimann: General and Botanical Observations on the 

USSR at and before the International Biochemical Congress in August, 1961.  PSB 7(3): 1-6.

50 years ago

“He made a good impression, so I invited him to join my party for a week’s exploration of Mt. St. Hel-

ens, a 9,677-foot peak in the Cascade Mountains. The party also included my students R. T. Davison 

and C. S. English, Jr. My car also held food, tent, and camping equipment.

Today there is a paved road leaving the Pacific Highway 99 at Castle Rock, and following up the Toutle 

River valley to Spirit Lake. We drove in on August 1, 1925, and successfully made the 40-mile trip, but 

the road required a skilled driver. The gravel stretches in the valley were not bad, but midway the road 

for several miles climbed up one side, then down the other side of a mountain as a plank road. The 

planks were laid lengthwise, a single 12-inch, 12-foot plank for each wheel, nailed to cross pieces end 

and middle. The cross pieces rested on the forest floor and once had been firm. We found many of the 

nails loose or lost, and some tread planks warped up at the end. It was hard driving.

Spirit Lake is a clear, beautiful mountain lake at the north base of Mt. St. Helens. The mountain it-

self is a perfect volcanic cone, inactive at present, but built up by fairly recent eruptions. It is unique 

among the Washington volcanoes in having the surface formed by a layer of pumice 20-40 feet 

thick. As a result, all drainage sinks through the pumice and flows underground on older solid la-

vas. Hence, the tree line is very low, at about 2,500 feet, and the upper and middle slopes are mostly 

bare. The pumice is of rounded balls of all sizes, up to a foot in diameter. Climbing the peak is a 

very arduous task, as on a sand hill, one loses half of each stride. Then, one must be alert, keeping 

watch upwards, to be ready to dodge every pumice boulder that comes bounding down the slope.”

--Harold St. John on G. Neville Jones. PSB 17(3): 23-24

40 years ago

“Who Will Be Teaching Botany in the 1980’s?

The majority of teachers will be the people in the associate and early full professorial ranks. As tenure 

track positions will not be available, the above-categorized people will have to become, as in the early 

days of science, true botanists. That is, persons versed in all the basic units of this discipline. In order 

to achieve this level of competency, many professors will have to undergo extensive retraining efforts 

during the decade to come.

If your institution is fortunate and the enrollment is stable or continuing to grow, the introductory 

courses will be taught by temporary professors who will be hired as lecturers or visiting professors with 

year-to-year contracts. The danger of this system is that it leads to disillusioned teachers of little help 

to building the department. 

In specific and unusual situations, the use of adhoc teachers will be used. These people will generally 

have other full-time employment, but will be hired on a per-course basis to fill in the area of need.”

--Saigo, Roy. Who Will Be Teaching Botany in the 1980’s? - Survival Of Viable Botany Programs in the 

Face of Declining Enrollments.  PSB 27(6): 42-43.

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By Dr. Catrina Adams

Education Director

Jennifer Hartley,

Education Programs 


The Botanical Society of America is pleased 

to announce the addition of Jennifer Boeyink 

Hartley to the BSA Education team!  Jennifer 

serves in the role of Education Programs 

Supervisor and reports to Catrina Adams, 

Director of Education.

A graduate of Missouri State University, 

Jennifer holds a comprehensive B.S. in Biology 

and Secondary Education. Growing up in the 

suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, Jennifer spent 

as much time as possible in the wooded gullies 

around her subdivision. Jennifer taught high 

school biology and earth science in Illinois 

for several years before taking a sabbatical 

when her children were born. While out of 

the classroom, Jennifer taught for an in-home 

tutoring agency and designed websites for 

local nonprofits.  In 2009 she took a part-time 

position with the Missouri Botanical Garden 

(MBG)’s Butterfly House while reactivating 

her teaching certification, with plans to 

return to the classroom.  However, plans 

changed when Jennifer was offered a full-time 

Welcome to Jennifer A. B. Hartley!

BSA’s new Education Programs Supervisor

instructor position with MBG’s Education 

division, and by 2012 she was promoted 

to manager of the School Programs team. 

Jennifer’s team managed the Garden’s field trip 

programming, school-focused initiatives, and 

teacher professional development.  “I am so 

proud of our work,” Jennifer says. “Watching 

students and teachers really appreciate plants 

for the first time is incredible!”

The classroom lured her back in 2019. 


Jennifer left the Garden to help open Kairos 

Academies,  an experimental new charter 

middle school in St. Louis where she served 

as the Head of Experiential Learning.  She 

hadn’t planned to step away again but couldn’t 

pass up the opportunity to work with BSA and 

PlantingScience.  “I had spent years telling 

teachers, ‘Have you heard of PlantingScience? 

You need to check it out!’ Science teachers 

hear so much advice from other educators, but 

they want and need to hear more from career 

scientists.  Programs like PlantingScience give 

classrooms access to real-world research they 

would have a hard time accessing otherwise.”

Jennifer will be spending the majority of 

her time managing the PlantingScience 

community and helping with the professional 

development and research activities of the 

NSF PlantingScience F2 Grant (NSF DRK-12 

#2010556). Her experience managing school 

programs at the Botanical Garden, designing 

curricula, leading professional development, 

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and her experiences working in diverse 

secondary school classrooms will bring new 

ideas for identifying and helping to address 

teacher and school administrator challenges 

with PlantingScience to make the program 

more accessible and impactful. 



Jodi Creasap Gee leaves BSA after 6 years 

of foundational work building and improving 

the PlantingScience 2.0 platform and commu-

nity as part of the NSF Digging Deeper Grant.

We would like to express appreciation for 

the work Dr. Jodi Creasap Gee has done in 

her role as Education Technology Manager 

on behalf of the BSA and PlantingScience 

communities. Jodi was hired in 2015 to work 

on the BSA’s PlantingScience: Digging Deeper 

education research grant (DIG) (NSF DRK-

12 #1502892). She has spent the past 6 years 

developing and improving the PlantingScience 

website and program, along with helping out 

with other Education Technology needs of the 


Under Jodi’s management, PlantingScience 

has made many necessary updates and 

improvements to the website; doubled our 

capacity; improved our efficiency at managing 

large numbers of student teams, and helped 

hundreds of teachers, mentors, and students 

work better together in a thriving, active, 

online mentoring community. During Jodi’s 

time with the BSA, PlantingScience has 

worked with almost 300 teachers, over 750 

scientist mentors and over 9300 students.

Jodi’s creative troubleshooting and responsive 

help to the PlantingScience community have 

established a great deal of trust that outcomes 

for students will be met by participating, and 

that they will get the help they need to have 

a good experience. Participating teachers are 

so enthusiastic about the program that they 

regularly recruit new teachers to participate 

The BSA appreciates the work of Jodi Creasap-Gee (right), seen here with Catrina Adams and 

BSA Executive Director Heather Cacanindin.

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and share information about the program at 

local events and conferences. To use just one 

quote from many we’ve received from teachers 

over the years:

The support I have received so far has 

been wonderful, so I’m mainly looking for 

continuation of the current support I have 

been getting that is responsive to my questions, 

works with me to troubleshoot, and is helping 

my students get the most possible out of the 

experience. - PlantingScience Teacher

Jodi’s background and connections 

in plant pathology have strengthened 

existing partnerships with the American 

Society of Agronomy and the American 

Phytopathological Society, including 

coordinated development of 3 new 

PlantingScience modules by these societies 

that have been very popular with teachers: 

“Agronomy Feeds the World”, “Plants Get 

Sick, Too!”, and “Treemendous Trees.”

For those not involved with PlantingScience, 

many have worked with Jodi to troubleshoot 

talks and recordings at virtual meetings over 

the last few years, have interacted with her 

as part of the BSA’s Technology Committee 

or Education Committee, or met her during 

in-person annual meetings helping with 

registration, hosting the PlantingScience 

receptions, and recruiting new mentors and 

Master Plant Science team members. We 

wish her well in her future endeavors, and 

appreciate the contributions she’s made to 

botany education and outreach during her 

time with BSA.





Teachers are excited to bring PlantingScience 

(back) to their classrooms this Fall, and the 13 

early-career scientists chosen for this year’s 

BSA-sponsored Master Plant Science Team 

(MPST) are getting student teams off to a 

good start.

The Fall 2021 session of PlantingScience is 

now underway, with students coming online 

starting in mid-September. Teachers seem 

to be particularly eager to get started, and 

many have commented on how pleased 

they are to have students in their classrooms 

again! Twenty-nine teachers have signed 

on this season, of which 14 are returning 

from previous sessions and 15 are trying out 

the program for the first time. Their classes 

include a mix of middle- and high-school 

students, and even a few undergraduates.  

The MPST for this session comprises 31 

scientists, of which 13 are new to the program 

this year. MPST members are sponsored 

by BSA, the American Society of Plant 

Biologists, the American Phytopathological 

Society, the American Society of Agronomy, 

the Canadian Botanical Association, and the 

Ecological Society of America. This year’s 13 

BSA-sponsored MPST members are:  Claudia 

Anca Barcu, Israel Borokini, Yanni Chen, 

Dani Davis, Kelsey Fisher, Ana Flores, 

Sara Johnson, Brooke Kern, Josh Kraft, 

Guadalupe Maldonado, Jill Marzolino, Shan 

Wong, and Renate Wuersig. Congratulations 

on your sponsorship and welcome to the team!

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PSB 67 (3) 2021


Master Plant Science Team members are 

graduate students and postdocs who learn 

more about science outreach and online 

mentoring and participate behind the scenes 

by serving as liaisons between PlantingScience 

teachers and their scientist mentors, helping 

teachers and new mentors navigate the 

experience and helping to keep student team 

conversations with their scientist mentors 

going strong. Sponsoring societies provide 

perks in exchange for service with the MPST. 

More information on the MPST and how to 

apply for next year’s cohort is available here:





We are looking forward to a particularly active 

and conversation-filled session as students 

are eager to get back to active learning in 

teams with their peers, getting to know their 

scientist mentors and experiencing ownership 

of developing their own plant investigations 

around a big theme in biology.  It’s such a rare 

and vital chance for students to learn how 

interesting plants can be, whether or not they 

choose a career involving botany.  

If you are interested in working with a student 

team online to help them through their plant 

science investigations, we’d love to have you 

join our mentoring community. Mentoring 

takes about an hour per team per week and 

can be done from anywhere with an internet 

connection. Learn more and register here:


Many thanks to all who have agreed to mentor 

teams so far this fall, the students and teachers 

really appreciate your generosity to spend 

time connecting with them and helping them 

through the always challenging process of 

designing and carrying out an investigation.






Students enrolled in a science outreach 

course at Syracuse University had a chance 

to experience the PlantingScience platform 

as a student and mentor this past spring, 

and discussed the program as a model of 

a successful outreach program. The course 

was taught by Dr. Katie Becklin, who has 

been mentoring with PlantingScience since 

2008, including serving as a PlantingScience 

MPST member and a PlantingScience Fellow 

participating in the Digging Deeper research 

project. Course goals were for students to be 

able to:  (1) describe science communication 

and education concepts that inform 

science outreach practices, (2) describe 

how outreach can promote diversity and 

inclusion in science, (3) compare and evaluate 

strategies for outreach and community 

engagement, (4) develop an evidence-based 

science outreach plan, and (5) engage with 

the public in a dialogue about science. 

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PSB 67 (3) 2021


Students in Syracuse University’s Science Outreach Course, Spring 2021

Undergraduates and graduate students 

who participated during the course using 

the “Wonder of Seeds” seed growth and 

germination module described running into 

issues shared by most student participants: 

Most of us had not interacted with plants 

beyond introductory courses.

Initially we had a difficult time designing the 


Conversations with mentors also revealed 

concerns shared with younger participants, 

such as: 

It has been exactly a week since I started the 

project and none of my seeds have germinated 


When asked about what their experiences led 

them to believe were the biggest benefits to 

students, they shared: 

One of the most significant benefits was the 

opportunity to have an authentic science 


 Describing our own ideas as a team and then 

receiving helpful feedback pushed us to think 


We learned more about our scientist mentor as 

a person as well as what they do.

When asked what they experienced while 

mentoring, they shared: 

We think that the best part of being a mentor 

on PlantingScience is witnessing the excitement 

a team of students shows when asking original 

questions and getting to answer them using 

data they collected.

The best collaborations tend to benefit both 

partners, and the experience of working with 

Dr. Becklin and her Syracuse University course 

taught us about some new tools that we are 

planning to incorporate into PlantingScience 

mentor training materials. For example, the 

course began with an activity for scientists to 

think about their science “impact identity,” 

as outlined by Risien and Storksdieck (2018) 

by following a series of prompts to consider 

where their scholarship overlaps with societal 

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needs, personal preferences, capabilities and 

skills and one’s institutional context. We feel 

like this is an excellent activity to include in 

science mentoring workshops going forward 

to set the stage and encourage scientists to 

consider whether PlantingScience is a good fit 

to meeting their outreach goals. Opportunities 

to participate in a PlantingScience-sponsored 

mentor training workshop incorporating this 

new reflective activity will be coming soon. 


Risien, J. and M. Storksdieck. 2018. Unveiling 

impact identities: a path for connecting sci-

ence and society. Integrative and Comparative 

Biology 58: 58-66.

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By Imeña Valdes and Ioana Anghel

BSA Student Representatives

We were so glad to see so many of you at 

Botany 2021! Our second virtual conference 

had an incredible number of students in 

attendance with a total of 832 registered

undergrads and grads. That is almost double 

the number of students at our last in-person 

conference. Students made up 42% of the 

total conference attendees. They brought a 

lot of enthusiasm and energy, especially at the 

student events.

 We organized a variety of student events this 

year. One of the highlights was the Careers 

in Botany Luncheon, where more than 100 

students registered to attend. With over 20 

professionals sharing lessons on how to set 

yourself up for success in the botanical job 

market, students had plenty of small group 

time to connect personally with our panelists. 

(Read more about their experiences at this 

networking event below!) Students also 

received advice on improving their CVs 

and resumes at the CV review sessions, met 

other students at the two Student Socials, and 

Botany 2021 Review

learned how to connect people with plants at 

the SciComm Celebration. We hope you were 

able to participate and enjoy these exclusive 

student events!

This year, BSA offered registration awards to 

25 students and 25 post-docs, and we hope 

that has energized more students to participate 

and be active in upcoming conferences. The 

reduced virtual conference rate and the online 

format made Botany accessible to even more 

students. We hope that some of these virtual 

conference benefits will be continued in the 

future. We look forward to seeing many of you 

in Alaska and hopefully some of you virtually 

next year as well!

To support students throughout the year, 

BSA has increased the research award for 

undergraduate projects from $200 to $500 

starting in Fall 2022. We hope this will support 

more impactful projects and allow students 

to expand their scope and data collection. In 

addition, we launched a new committee to 

support students and early career professionals 

through the BSA Early Career Professional 

Development Committee. This group will 

focus on helping students and junior botanists 

meet other professionals, find mentors, and 

take advantage of various opportunities. 

The committee's first project was a GRFP 

workshop where mentors helped students 

improve their application. Learn more about 

this new committee at



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PSB 67(3) 2021


We are excited to engage students to be active 

in the BSA community throughout the year!

Reach us by email or Twitter: Imeña 

(, @

imenarv) and Ioana (studentrep1@botany.

org, @ioana_anghel).




We had an incredible panel of professionals 

and a great group of students join us for our 

luncheon, so we wanted to know what piece 

of advice the professionals would give to all 

students to help them succeed and to know 

what the students learned. We can’t thank the 

participants enough and hope to see some 

new and familiar faces next year!


Taking a break between undergraduate 

and graduate school to gain work or 

research experience in the field you 

think you're interested in can be a useful 

strategy for maximizing your future 


Dr. Carla Maldonado

Herbario Nacional de Bolivia, Instituto de 

Ecología, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés

“Risking getting out of your comfort 

zone is the key to getting ahead.”

Dr. Jessamine Finch

Native Plant Trust

“As an introvert, it was a huge breakthrough 

for me when I realized that ‘networking’ can 

be as simple as becoming friends with the 

people you interact with at school and in 

your research. People graduate, move, get 

new jobs, and pretty soon you have a diverse 

network of people who have pursued 

different careers and live all over the world.”

Dr. Vera Velasco

University of Toronto

"You need a supportive personal (parents, 

siblings, friends) community as much as 

you need an excellent academic community 

(supervisors, fellow grad students) to help 

you succeed in graduate school.”

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PSB 67(3) 2021


Jocelyn Pender

Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre

“Build a community around you! 

Building community means joining 

learning groups, communities of practice, 

lab groups and attending events in your 

field to connect with professionals and 

fellow students. This is hard to do online 

and through virtual events, but isn't 

impossible! For me, my network has been 

my greatest asset in my career. Further, 

the communities I’m involved with have 

provided support and wisdom (e.g., 

student councils, data science learning 

groups, women in STEM leadership 

groups). Additionally, I mentioned to all 

the students I encountered that if they are 

considering a career pivot, the data field 

is an exciting place to be! The data field is 

new, growing and requires very little for 

entry, other than a STEM degree.”  

“Start today! Start now!”


Matthew Sheik

George Mason University

“The 2021 Careers in Botany Luncheon 

allowed me to connect with Herbarium 

curators in order to learn the skills 

needed to successfully curate a collection. 

These include the following: 1. ability to 

secure funding, 2. capability of managing 

people, 3. understanding best digitization 

practices. I’ll be able to focus on the last 

year of Graduate School making sure I 

can practice and gain experience in those 

three areas to become a more attractive 

candidate to one day curate a collection.”

“When writing grants you wanna show 

some preliminary data, show that you 

have done some of the methods that 

you are going to apply, but also try 

something new, meld both old and new 

knowledge together to achieve a goal.”

David Hainlen

North Dakota State University

“Network Network Network!!"

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PSB 67(3) 2021




As we continue in our careers, we hope to 

see the academic culture shift to be healthier 

and more inclusive. Below are a few papers 

we think you should read if you hope to lead. 

We hope to continue to recommend “Papers 

to Read for Future Leaders” to BSA Student 

members—if you have papers you would like 

us to include, please share it with us via this 

google form:

• Asai, D. 2020. Race Matters. Cell 181: 


• Brown, N. and J. Leigh. 2020. Ableism 

in Academia: Theorising experiences of 

disabilities and chronic illnesses in higher 

education. London: UCL Press. https://

• Caviglia-Harris, J., K. E. Hodges, B. 

Helmuth, et al. 2021. The six dimensions 

of collective leadership that advance 

sustainability objectives: rethinking 

what it means to be an academic leader. 

Ecology and Society 26: 9.

• Cronin, M. R., S. H. Alonzo, S. K. 

Adamczak, et al. 2021. Anti-racist 

interventions to transform ecology, 

evolution and conservation biology 

departments. Nature Ecology & Evolution

5: 1213–1223.

• Hamilton, P. R., J. A. Hulme, and E. D. 

Harrison. 2020. Experiences of higher 

education for students with chronic ill-

nesses. Disability & Society DOI:10.1080/


• Poodry, C. A. and Asai, D. 2018. Ques-

tioning Assumptions. CBE - Life Sciences 

Education 17: es7, 1-4. 

• Simoneschi, D. 2021. We need to improve 

the welfare of life science trainees. PNAS

118: e2024143118.

• Tseng, M., R. W. El-Sabaawi, M. B. Kan-

tar, et al. Strategies and support for Black, 

Indigenous, and people of colour in 

ecology and evolutionary biology. Nature 

Ecology & Evolution 4: 1288–1290.



Nature’s Palette

A Color Reference System from 

the Natural World

Patrick Baty

Cloth $39.95

Visit our virtual booth

Conference discount 30% off on all books 

sitewide with coupon code BOT21

Trees of Life

Max Adams

Cloth $29.95


A Brief Compendium 

of Arboreal Lore

Joan Maloof

Cloth $16.95


A Brief Compendium 

of Floral Lore

Carol Gracie

Cloth $16.95

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Thank you for your membership support! 

BSA memberships run from January-

December of each year, and our renewal 

season, which started on October 1, is 

when we launched our email renewal 

campaign. You can renew via those emails 

or renew today at:

Renewing allows you to update your 

membership information, renew your 

Sectional Affiliations, donate to awards, the 

endowment or sections, and give the gift 

of membership to students or colleagues 

in developing countries. Not sure if your 

membership is due to renew? You can always 

email me at and I will be 

happy to answer any membership questions. 

For those of you who do not need to renew, 

you can also take this time to make donations 

and purchase gift memberships (https:// Life or Corresponding 

members can email aneely@botany.

org if you would additionally like to join 

Sectional Affiliations, or purchase print 

copies of the American Journal of Botany.



We are very excited to announce a new 

Three-Year Gift Membership Program 

for both Student and Developing Nations 

memberships. For only $30 you can gift a BSA 

membership that will keep the Student or 

Developing Nations member connected and 

part of the BSA community by giving them 

access to award opportunities, conference 

discounts, Society publications, publishing 

discounts, and the Membership Matters 

monthly newsletters for a full three years. The 

3-year gift memberships can be purchased at 

any time by visiting 

or when you renew your membership online. 

Student memberships are good for the full 

three years even if the member graduates. 

One-year gift memberships are also still 

available for $10. 

Renewal Season Has Started!


Amelia Neely

BSA Membership & 



E-mail: ANeely@


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PSB 67(3) 2021



2021-2022 BSA STUDENT 



Hello! I am Teressa Alexander. I am currently 

pursuing a Ph.D. in the University of the 

West Indies, Trinidad. I currently conduct 

research on cocoa plants in the International 

Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad (ICG,T) which 

is one of the world’s largest and most diverse 

collections of cocoa germplasm. Because of 

future climate projections of drier climate 

conditions in the southern Caribbean, my 

work focuses on the development of drought 

tolerant trees. Through my passion for sharing 

science and showcasing the wonders of 

plants, I plan to consistently share impactful 

plant science content while breaking down 

complex scientific language making it useful 

and accessible to everyone. I look forward to 

not only engaging with the BSA community 

of botanists and plant science researchers, but 

also plant enthusiasts around the world.


Sonal Gupta joined the BSA Student Social 

Media Liaison team in October 2020. During 

her one-year term, she was in charge of BSA’s 

Facebook and Instagram accounts, and she 

created the Spotlight Series with the aim of 

highlighting Early Career Scientists. In her 

role, Sonal worked with BSA staff, student 

representatives, and helped with the popular 

SciComm Celebration at Botany 2021 – Virtual!

Sonal is a PhD student in the department 

of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the 

University of Michigan studying genetics 

of adaptation in the genus Ipomoea. She 

is graduating soon (Fall 2021) and plans 

to continue studying the mechanisms of 

adaptation in plants at New York University, 

where she will be joining as a postdoctoral 

researcher. Sonal is also very passionate 

about teaching, cooking, and learning new 

languages. Thank you for your service to BSA!

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• Around the World in 80 Plants
• Broomrapes of Britain & Ireland
• Ethnobotany of the Mountain Regions of Africa
• Extraordinary Orchids
• Field Guide to the Trees of the Gila Region of New Mexico 
• Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest  
• Global Tea Science: Current Status and Future Needs
• Household Economy at Wall Ridge: A Fourteenth-Century Central Plains 

Farmstead in the Missouri Valley 

• Nevada Mountains: Landforms, Trees, and Vegetation
• Planet Palm
• Rosa: The Story of the Rose
• Temperate Garden Plant Families: The Essential Guide to Identification 

and Classification

• The Collectors: Creating Hans Sloane's Extraordinary Herbarium
• The Wardian Case: How a Simple Box Moved Plants and Changed the World
• Will Purdom: Agitator, plant-hunter, forester


Around the World in 80 


Jonathan Drori, illustrations by 

Lucille Clerc

2021; ISBN 97817862732300

Hardcover $24.99; £20; 216 pp. 

Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 


Around the World in 80 Plants is a beautifully 

illustrated, general interest book that will 

readily absorb readers with lively and witty 

snapshots of edible, ornamental, medicinal, 

toxic, or archetypal plants from every 

continent. Jonathan Drori’s career as BBC 

journalist and educator equipped him to 

prepare a sequel to Around the World in 80 

Trees (reviewed in Plant Science Bulletin 66[3]: 

255-256) in collaboration with artist Lucille 

Clerc. Here is an outstanding opportunity for 

booklovers of all ages to engage with botany—

through plant history, chemistry, folklore, and 

even etymology—since Drori delves into the 

derivation of each plant’s Latin binomial, then 

provides practical, everyday examples (e.g., 

Linum L., flax, gives us the term lingerie).
Drori’s Introduction is a forceful advocacy 

statement for plants and our planet: Eat less 

meat and poultry to take pressure off the 

land; diversify the species we eat to avoid 

monoculture and overreliance on the three 

major cereals that feed the world: wheat, rice, 

and maize; and protect crop wild relatives.
Arranged geographically by continent, the 

book opens with the author’s native England, 

focusing on nettle, featuring its stinging 

trichomes that protect butterflies from 

predators as they forage. Trichomes appear 

again in relation to Cannabis L., with its 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


capitate stalked trichomes providing the bulk 

of the active chemical constituent THC and 

other cannabinoids in the resin. Chemical 

constituents are also prominent in reading 

about rhododendron, which produces a 

toxic “mad honey” adverse to humans, but 

to which bees are immune. The benefits of 

iodine contained in kelp, as well as its valuable 

contribution to carbon sequestration, are 

balanced against the harm of the arsenic it 

Drori’s delightfully written English commands 

our attention, e.g., as regards tulip cultivation 

in the Netherlands: “Intensive farming stamps 

the land with splendid blocks of colour, but 

presents a dining opportunity for insects 

and fungi that is held in check only by heroic 

application of agricultural chemicals.” Then 

again, readers might need a translator to 

understand some of Drori’s expressions, e.g., 

writing about mistletoe, “Cocking a snook at 

Dieffenbachia Schott, appropriately nicknamed 

‘dumb cane’ contains a “defensive armoury of 

toxins and irritants, special pressurized cells” 

containing minuscule needle-like calcium 

oxalate crystals called raphides. Chewing 

introduces numerous crystals, bringing 

intense numbing, oral irritation, excessive 

drooling, and localized swelling. “Horrifically, 

dieffenbachia was used in North America as a 

punishment and method of torture during the 

time of slavery.”
Similarly, the report about the castor oil plant, 

native to the Horn of Africa, was adopted for 

sinister use, force-fed to political opponents: 

“By Mussolini’s Fascist thugs, it became an 

instrument of humiliating and sometimes 

fatal torture.” Drori describes mangoes “as 

members of a notoriously well-defended 

family that includes the malignant poison ivy 

and cashews, whose nuts possess such caustic 

fortifications that it is a marvel that anyone 

discovered they’re edible.” 
Drori’s deft and concise writing conceals the 

fact that each succinct chapter required many 

hours of research in Kew’s Library to obtain 

and then to distill the key facts he selected 

to introduce. Clerc’s meticulous, imaginative 

detailed drawings enhance the text. Physically, 

the book’s pages are of heavy, durable paper 

stock; the book is well bound and stitched and 

sturdy, to withstand being thumbed through 

often. This volume could make a superb 

textbook supplement for biology classes, 

to introduce students to the treasures and 

mysteries that plant biology encompasses.


Drori, J. 2020. Around the World in 80 Trees. Hachette, 

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, 

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, 

Missouri, USA

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PSB 67(3) 2021


Broomrapes of Britain & 

Ireland. Botanical Soci-

ety of Britain and Ireland. 

Handbook 22. 

By Chris Thorogood and Fred 


2021. ISBN: 9780901158598

Paperback, £17.50; 152 pp.

Botanical Society of Britain 

and Ireland, Durham, United 


This book has a special appeal to me 

because of frustration working with native 

British broomrapes while studying weedy 

broomrapes during a post-doc at the Weed 

Research Organization in Oxford long ago. For 

a botanist from Virginia, it was exciting seeing 

numerous populations of broomrapes in the 

countryside but challenging determining 

them. This was especially true for Orobanche

minor and its many look-alikes. This book 

would have met that challenge.
Both authors have extensive experience with 

the genus (and its segregate, Phelipanche) and 

the family as a whole and share this through 

lucid text and a wonderful array of well-

reproduced color images of all species as well 

as the incomparable drawings of Thorogood. 

In broomrapes, features of the corolla are 

important for species determination—

diagnostic characters very difficult to 

determine from exsiccatae. 
Extensive field work with each species in 

Britain and Ireland (and much of Europe) as 

well as herbarium research are the bases for 

details presented in line drawings.
The book begins with an introduction 

to the family Orobanchaceae and a lucid 

discussion of the complex life cycle of 

broomrapes as well as a section on other 

non-photosynthetic plants confused with 

broomrapes—plants like dodders (species of 

Cuscuta in the Convolvulaceae); pine drops 

(species of Hypopitys of the Ericaceae); and 

achlorophyllous orchids (species in the genera 

Neottia and Corallorhiza). This is followed by 

terse but informative information on ecology. 

I was surprised at how many broomrapes are 

endangered in Britain and Ireland. Particularly 

helpful is the “Identification” section, which 

provides the user with the criteria for 

distinguishing species. A short section on 

taxonomic history is especially germane for 

a genus tormented by fragmentation through 

splitting but now receiving attention through 

careful field studies coupled with molecular 

studies. Yet the authors note—with British 

understatement—that until further studies 

occur, “taxonomy in the genus is likely to 

remain in a state of some flux.”
The bulk of the book is species accounts 

following the format of the Botanical Society 

of Britain and Ireland’s (BSBI) handbooks.  In 

addition to conservation status, description, 

and key characters, there is information on the 

hosts, color photographs of plants and their 

habitats, as well as exceptional line drawings 

for each of the 14 species. The requisite BSBI 

maps with grids are included for each of the 

species, subspecies, and varieties. The parasite 

distribution is helpfully mapped along with 

the distribution of the hosts. 
Orobanche minor receives special attention 

because of difficulty, as noted earlier, separating 

it from distinct but similar appearing species. 

No doubt Broomrapes of Britain and Ireland 

will be used to correct determinations in 

The four sub-specific taxa of O. minor are 

treated in detail. This will be of potential value 

to weed scientists dealing with this widely 

spread parasite reported from North America 

and Australia and perhaps elsewhere where 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


crop and forage plants are damaged. Do some 

of the invasions of this parasitic weed involve 

distinct varieties?
The only other genus of achlorophyllous 

members of the family in Britain and Ireland, 

Lathraea (with two species), is included. A 

helpful glossary and references cited conclude 

what will undoubtedly be the “go to” reference 

for anyone interested in these beautiful and 

fascinating plants. As the back cover states: 

“It is hoped that this book will stimulate 

interest in broomrapes broadly, and promote 

their much-needed conservation focus in the 

region.” It will accomplish that for users in 

Britain and Ireland and regions far beyond.
[Note: This review was also published (in a 

slightly altered format) in 

Haustorium, the 

newsletter of the International Parasitic Plant 


Lytton John Musselman, Blackwater Ecolog-

ic Preserve, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, 

Virginia 23529-0266

Ethnobotany of the Moun-

tain Regions of Africa

Rainer W. Bussmann, Ed. 

2021; ISBN: 978-3030383855

Hardcover, $699.99, 571.99 €; book 

with online access, $1099.99; 

1125 pp. 
Springer Nature, Switzerland

Ethnobotany of the Mountain Regions of Africa 

is the newest addition to Springer’s series, 

Ethnobotany of Mountain Regions, edited 

by R.W. Bussmann and Narel Y. Paniagua-

Zambrana. This compendium, published in 

two volumes not available separately, opens 

with an introduction to the mountainous 

vegetation and ecology of Africa, followed by 

a second overview that focuses specifically on 

the mountain vegetation and ecology of East 

Africa. These and all successive chapters are 

written by Bussmann, Paniagua-Zambrana, 

and Grace N. Njoroge. Each author has a 

proven publication record in ethnobotany. 
The remainder of this account consists of 

a register of 170 species representing the 

mountain flora of East Africa. The species 

included are familiar, recognizably of the 

region, although I was unable to find any 

discussion about the rationale for these 

selections. I am surprised to find incorporated 

some introduced species, e.g., Mexican and 

Central American Lantana camara L. and 

Indian Azadirachta indica A. Juss., common 

in East Africa. Each mini-review contains 

supplemental information and photographs 

about the usage of relatives of the species 

named in the entry’s title, even from other 

continents, e.g., Georgia and Pakistan.
The organization of the articles present in 

this catalog follows an established format, 

unless topics are omitted where insufficient 

material is available. Nomenclature, including 

botanical synonyms, is followed with Local 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


Extraordinary Orchids

Sandra Knapp

2021. ISBN 13-978-0-226-77967-

6 Hardcover, ISBN 13-978-0-226-

77970–6 eBook 

Cloth: $30.00; Ebook: $29.99; 

160 pp.

University of Chicago Press

A very large number of botanically accurate, 

artistically beautiful, and generally excellent 

illustrations of orchids were accumulated in 

Europe from approximately the mid 1750s 

until the early 1900s. Most of the best were 

produced in the UK (or such is my bias). 

German and Austrian paintings are very 

accurate and beautiful, but lack personality 

(for example, Beer, 1863; Müller, 1904). 

Those from France and Belgium lack detail 

and are not always beautiful (as, for instance, 

Linden, 1885-1906). According to Chinese 

orchid paintings expert Prof. Choy sin Hew 

(now retired from the National University of 

Singapore), the exquisite Chinese painting of 

mostly Cymbidium orchids native to China, 

which can date back to hundreds or thousands 

of years, was/is by artists, not botanical 

Illustrations in Britain are preserved in books, 

journals, and several archives including those 

in the British Museum of Natural History and 

Kew Gardens. All are in the public domain 

names, Botany and ecology, Phytochemistry, 

Local medicinal uses, Local food uses, Local 

handicraft and other uses, and References. 

Historical linguists might integrate these 

assembled local names in their investigations. 

Along with the novel ethnobotanical 

approach, readers will applaud the benefit of 

666 illustrations, with 657 in color. 
–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, 

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, 

Missouri, USA

due to their age, even if from time to time, 

miscreants (individuals and/or institutions) 

try, or have tried, to claim ownership (I ran 

into two instances of this kind and ignored 

them) for reasons of ego, control impulse, 

and/or profit. Over the years I used a few of 

these illustrations in some of my writings (for 

example, Arditti and Abdul Ghani, 2000), 

but it never occurred to me that some/many 

of these excellent illustrations can be used to 

illustrate an entire book. A previous book, 

illustrated with old paintings (Stewart and 

Stearn, 1993), is devoted to the work of a 

single artist and his biography: the excellent 

Franz Bauer (1758-1849), a German who was 

employed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

It does not address many aspects of orchids. 

And, there are few single-volume collections 

of old prints, but these are not books with text 

and themes.
The author of this book had the good idea I 

did not have and used a superb selection of 

excellent old illustrations produced in the UK 

and elsewhere to illustrate her book on orchids. 

Many of the old illustrations are of gaudy, 

colorful, and large flowers, which are beautiful, 

noisy (so to speak), and attract attention much 

in the same way as semi-dressed models (male 

or female) in an advertisement. Using them 

would have produced an attractive book to 

look at without the good information, class, 

and dignity of this volume. 
Fortunately, the author selected tasteful, 

mostly beautiful, botanically accurate, and 

scientifically instructive illustrations. She also 

threw in a few gaudy ones to make it interesting, 

but even these would stand out among 

the paintings in illustrated classics like the 

Orchid Album (Warner, Williams, Williams, 

and Gower, 1882-1897), immense (531 × 

726 mm), The Orchidaceae of Mexico and 

Guatemala (Bateman, 1843), and Monograph 

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of Odontoglossum (Bateman, 1874). The 

result is a classy, instructive, informative, and 

beautiful book, which is a pleasure to behold 

and read. The text is detailed, clear, accurate, 

and even entertaining. Orchids are presented, 

described, and demystified very well and made 

interesting. The author’s words complement 

and compliment the illustrations very well. 

A unique and attractive feature are the figure 

captions. They are not the usual dry captions 

so common in books and papers (including 

my own), which do no more than describe 

what is in the figures. All are well written, 

and most contain information, which makes 

them interesting to read and add to the book, 

making it both beautiful and good. 
I did find several items that need attention and 

one missed opportunity.

• On page 12, “most, if not all, epiphytic 

orchids use a special form of photosyn-

thesis called crassulacean acid metabo-

lism (CAM)” is problematic for several 

reasons. First, “use” is teleological and 

anthropomorphic. Perhaps the word is 

acceptable in a popular-semi-scientific 

book like this one, but it would have 

been better to avoid it. Second, “most, 

if not all, epiphytic orchids” is inaccu-

rate. Only thick-leaved orchids fix car-

bon via CAM. Many epiphytic orchids 

are thick leaved, but certainly “not all.” 

And third, CAM is not “a special form.” 

It is one of the three common carbon 

fixation pathways and found in all suc-

culents regardless of family. The other 

two, C3 and C4, are limited to non-


• Ant gardens within orchid roots are 

described accurately on page 13. How-

ever, the description fails to mention 

that they occur mostly in “trash bas-

kets,” which are root masses in some 

orchids, as for example Coryanthes 

(tropical America) and Ansellia (tropi-

cal Africa).

• The illustration from Gessner’s (1516-

1565) Opera Botanica (Gessner, 1771) 

on page 98 is described accurately as 

being probably (“probably” is neces-

sary here because there are orchid il-

lustrations in some incanababulae, not 

all of which have been examined care-

fully; according to Prof. Hew seeds are 

not shown in ancient Chinese orchid 

paintings) the first to include images 

of seeds. However, it fails to mention 

that the painting of Epipactis palustris 

on the same page may well be the first 

illustration of resupinating orchid flow-

ers. To be fair, one must have worked 

on resupination as I have and study the 

painting very carefully to detect evi-

dence of bud and floral torsion in Gess-

ner’s painting.

• I own several of the great illustrated or-

chid books and series from the 1800s. 

The paper (sadly not acid free) on 

which the illustrations were printed 

and/or painted is heavy and of high 

quality for the time, but somewhat 

crude and neither glossy or even semi-

glossy, nor matte. The pigments used 

at the time differ from those used in 

present-day printing. As a result, the 

illustrations stand out on the old book 

pages and are sharp. They almost look 

alive. These qualities are easy to notice 

even when digitized versions of illus-

trations from old books are displayed 

on computer monitors. When these il-

lustrations are reproduced with current 

inks on modern paper (particularly 

glossy or semi glossy), something is 

lost. The illustrations do not stand out 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


as well, are not as sharp as the originals, 

and do not seem alive. This is what hap-

pens almost always when old illustra-

tions are reproduced in recent books 

or journals including the old painting I 

used (Arditti and Abdul Ghani, 2000). 

It also happened in this case. Paper 

and inks are selected by publishers and 

printers, not authors. Therefore, this is 

not the author’s responsibility here as it 

was not mine. 

Are these items major problems and do they 

detract from the book? No! Perhaps only the 

statement about CAM will be noticed by some 

readers. And a personal preference of mine 

rather than a problem: Not all illustrations 

include artists’ names. It would have been 

good to include artists’ names and sources of 

illustrations in every caption rather than in a 

separate illustrations index in the back of the 

This book is easily one of the most beautiful 

and best (perhaps the best) popular/semi-

scientific orchid books I have had the pleasure 

of reading and enjoying. An extensive 

bibliography and a good index enrich it. It 

is a triple-purpose book: excellent and very 

affordable as: (1) a popular/semi-scientific 

work on orchids to have, (2) a very attractive 

coffee table volume, and (3) a beautiful gift for 

anyone who is interested in plants in general 

and orchids in particular.


Arditti, J., and A. K. Abdul Ghani. 2000. Numerical 

and physical properties of orchid seeds and their bio-

logical implications. New Phytologist 145: 367-421. 
Bateman, J. 1843. The Orchidaceae of Mexico and 

Guatemala. J. Ridgeway & Sons. London. 
Bateman, J. 1874. A Monograph of Odontoglossum. L. 

Reeve & Co. London.
Beer, J. G. 1853. Beiträge zur mophologie und biolo-

gie der familie der orchideen. Verlag vor Carl Gerold’s 

Gessner, C. 1771. Opera Botanica. M. Seligman, 

Linden, L., and E. Rodigas. 1885-1906.  Lindenia F. 

Meyer-van Loo. Gand.
Müller, W., and F. Kränzlin. 1904. Abbildungen der in 

Deutschland und der angrenzenden Gebieten Orchi-

deen-Arten. R. Friedländer & Sohn. Berlin.
Stewart, J., and W. T. Stearn. 1993. The orchid paint-

ings of Franz Bauer. Timber Press, Portland.
Warner, R., B. S. Williams, H. Williams, and W.H. 

Gower. 1882-1897. The Orchid Album, Vols. 1-11. 

B.S. Williams. London.

—Joseph Arditti, Professor of Biology Emeri-

tus, Department of Developmental and Cell 

Biology, University of California, Irvine, USA

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PSB 67(3) 2021


Field Guide to the Trees 

of the Gila Region of New 


By Richard Stephen Felger, 

James Thomas Verrier, Kelly 

Kindscher, and Xavier Raj Herbst 


2021; ISBN: 978-0-8263-6237-7 

(soft cover), 978-0-8263-6238-4 

(e-book) - $24.95; 272 pp.

University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM

As a botanist relatively new to the state of New 

Mexico, eager to learn everything I can about 

the flora, I was pleased to come across the Field 

Guide to the Trees of the Gila Region of New 

Mexico. This book has all the botanical detail 

I look for in a field guide, enhanced with an 

aesthetically appealing layout and abundant 


Often poetic, this guide is also a 

joy to read. For instance, in their explanation 

of the taxonomy and data used for species 

accounts, the authors note that taxonomies 

are dynamic and that “science moves on, 

even botany, so we must expect change. 

New findings generate new taxonomies and 

differences of opinion, sometimes allowing 

for more than one reality in classification. 

Plant taxonomy is the poetry of botany.”  

The book begins by introducing the area 

of interest: the Gila region of southwestern 

New Mexico, USA. The authors remind us 

of the historical significance of this area for 

conservation. In 1924, following from the 

work of Aldo Leopold, the U.S. Forest Service 

assigned over 300,000 acres of land to the Gila 

Wilderness—the first specifically designated 

wilderness area in the world. This wilderness 

area is in the center of what is now the greater 

Gila National Forest. The Gila National Forest 

and adjacent areas encompass the region 

covered in this field guide. Ecologically 

diverse, the Gila includes riparian habitats, 

Chihuahuan desert, grasslands, pinon-

juniper-oak woodland, pine forest, and 

mixed-conifer forest. The complex geology 

and topography range in elevation from 4000 

to 11,000 feet. 
This diversity is epitomized by the 76 tree 

species representing 22 families that are 

included and nicely summarized in the Table 

1 checklist. Trees in this guide are broadly 

defined as freestanding plants (so excluding 

vines) that are at least 5 m tall with a well-

formed trunk. Therefore, the authors include 

species not typically thought of as trees, such 

as Yucca elata and Fouquieria splendens. They 

also include 15 species that are non-native but 

occur within the Gila. 
Each of the four authors has spent significant 

time in the Gila, and their passion for the flora, 

especially these tree species, is apparent. Their 

accumulated knowledge of the region from 

field experiences, along with published reports 

and herbarium records, form the foundation 

of species accounts. Species identifications 

have been carefully checked with collections 

from multiple herbaria, and generally two or 

more vouchers are cited for each taxon. 
The majority of the book is comprised of 

the field guide, which is divided into three 

main sections: the two major vascular plant 

groups (gymnosperms and angiosperms) 

and cultivated species. Within each section, 

the authors lead you to family identification 

through a dichotomous key. Then each 

family is organized alphabetically following 

the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group IV 

classification. If multiple genera within a 

family occur in the Gila, a dichotomous key 

is provided again. Finally, for each species, 

characteristics important for identification 

are described, as well as their current 

known distribution. Other information 

such as provenance, etymology of scientific 

names, common names, and economic or 

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ethnobotanical information (when available) 

are provided. The guide concludes with a 

list summarizing the Gila tree genera and 

families, an extensive literature cited, and an 

index for quick searching. 
Probably the most notably useful aspect of 

this particular guide are the comprehensive 

photos. For each species, there is a figure 

comprised of multiple high-quality images 

that capture key characteristics. These 

included things like male and female cones, 

close-ups of flowers and fruits, and full views 

of the trees with a human standing next to 

the trunk for scale. Each image panel in the 

figure is well-labeled with the characteristic of 

interest and date and general location where 

the photo was taken. The trained botanist 

will appreciate the dichotomous keys (this 

was very intuitive for me to follow). However, 

these detailed photographs and organization 

by major groups (conifers then angiosperms) 

should additionally appeal to an average hiker 

or natural history enthusiast.
With a total of 256 pages, the book itself is 

under an inch thick and easily fits into a day 

pack for ease of use in the field. The book is a 

bit on the heavier side, but this is largely due 

to the higher quality of paper and binding 

which appear to be able to withstand solid use 

(this will be tested in the following summers). 

I think this guide will be especially useful as a 

resource for students learning the flora of New 

Mexico. I look forward to using this book with 

my field courses in the years to come.

—Hannah E. Marx, Ph.D., University of New 

Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA

Finding the Mother Tree: 

Discovering the Wisdom 

of the Forest

By Suzanne Simard

2021. ISBN 9780525656098 

hardcover; $28.95; 348pp. 

Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 

Simard’s autobiographical narrative, like her 

science, is successful in making connections 

at many levels. Simard, Professor of Forest 

and Conservation Sciences at the University 

of British Columbia (UBC), was born into 

logging in the Monashee Mountains of 

south-central British Columbia on land 

hewn from the forest by her Québécois great-

grandparents. The second chapter provides a 

photo-illustrated description of her family’s 

traditional hand-fall lumbering practices, 

along with the first of many French phrases 

and exclamations salted throughout the text, 

which makes it a fun read. Family is important 

throughout the book and her family history 

is a window on the history of logging in the 

Pacific Northwest. It provides context to her 

later recognition of former skid-trails through 

the woods, which provided unintended 

habitat for subsequent natural regeneration. 

The chapter also provides the back-story 

to her opening pages that describe her 

experience as “the first woman to work for the 

logging company”—a summer college intern 

charged to assess replanted seedlings on a 

clear cut plantation and later tasked to mark 

the boundaries for the next clear cut. Here 

was the inroad to her chosen profession, but 

she knew that something was not right. “My 

childhood was shouting at me: The forest is an 

integrated whole.” 
Serendipitous observations lead to many of 

the discoveries Simard describes throughout 

the book. While cycling to watch her cowboy 

brother bull ride in a neighboring town, she 

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describes her discovery of fungal threads 

associated with Ponderosa pine roots as 

she dug a small hole to bury the apple core 

from her lunch. She began to teach herself 

mushroom identification and discovered the 

small, but growing, academic literature on 

mycorrhizal fungi. “But why would the fungus 

give up its water to the tree roots?” became 

the first of a series of questions that continue 

to guide Simard’s research. Post-graduation 

(UBC degree in Forestry) she received an 

entry-level position in the Provincial Forest 

Service and her first opportunity to design a 

scientific research project—an experiment 

to determine the optimum concentration 

of Roundup™ to prepare a clear-cut site for 

seedling replanting. In the chapter “Killing 

Soil,” she details her experimental design and 

thoroughly describes its implementation, a 

strategy she repeats throughout the book as 

she introduces new technologies, procedures, 

and expanded experimental designs required 

to test successive iterations of questions 

building on new discoveries. Written in a 

way that is both logical and understandable 

for a general audience, her writing is also a 

blueprint for young scientists to follow in 

developing their own inquiries. It quickly 

becomes clear that not only was Simard 

confronting the challenge of being a woman 

working in a stereotypical man’s job, but her 

research results could only be interpreted 

as counter to the established practices and 

codified regulations governing the Provincial 

timber industry! Nevertheless, her supervisor 

encouraged her to pursue an advanced degree 

to gain credibility. As a student at Oregon 

State University, she rigorously demonstrated 

that succession and forest interactions were 

not just about competition, but also involved 

cooperation between species. Her Master’s 

Thesis demonstrated water and nitrogen 

sharing between alder and pines, and her 

Doctoral Dissertation, part of which was 

published in Nature as the “wood-wide 

web,” established two-way carbon sharing 

between birch and fir seedlings. This sharing 

changed dynamically during the growing 

season with the two species switching from 

source to sink as the seasons progressed. Yet, 

her presentations to the Forest Service and 

industry representatives had no impact and 

she was derisively chided as “Miss Birch” 

(perhaps with “r” a typo). 
Her 1997 Nature article prompted both 

academic and public interest, and probably 

professional jealousy. An off-the-record 

comment to a reporter, “Don’t print this, but 

between you and me, for all the good the 

foresters are doing, they might as well paint 

rocks,” essentially sealed her professional 

change of career from professional forester to 

academic professor. In 2002, no longer with 

the Forest Service and with 2- and 4-year-

old daughters, she accepted an assistant 

professorship at her alma mater, UBC, 

ultimately commuting to and from Nelson, 

BC (a 9-hour drive). With programming 

assistance from her husband, her “wood-wide 

web” was now mapped to include up to 48 

distinct trees, one at each node, connected 

by networks of multiple mycorrhizal species. 

The expanse of the network extended up to 20 

m and, near the center, was a single “mother 

tree”—what old-time foresters called a “wolf 

tree.” Her research questions had now evolved 

to: Do trees communicate like neural networks? 

Do trees have intelligence? Her public impact 

included inspiration for James Cameron’s 2009 

film Avatar; the character of Dr. Westerford in 

Richard Powers’ 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner, 

The Overstory (according to the World Wide 

Web); and the closing feature of the 2013 PBS 

Nature video “What Plants Talk About.”
In 2012 the conifer forests in western North 

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Dudley, S. A., and A. L. File. 2007. Kin recognition in 

an annual plant. Biology Letters 3: 435-438. 
Simard, S. W., D. A. Perry, M. D. Jones, D. D. Myrold, 

D. M. Durall, and R. Molina. 1997. Net transfer of car-

bon between tree species with shared ectomycorrhizal 

fungi. Nature 388: 579-582.

--Marshall D. Sundberg. Department of 

Biological Science, Emporia State University, 

Emporia, KS 66044.

America were being decimated by a natural 

pine beetle infestation. The pines, beetle, and a 

fungus it carries have co-evolved for millennia 

and periodically undergo coordinated boom/

bust cycles. Simard wondered if infested pines 

produce defensive compounds, monoterpenes, 

to inhibit the beetle? Do infested trees warn 

their neighbors? Do trees demonstrate kin 

selection, like Susan Dudley’s sea rockets? 

Simard and her students were quickly able to 

provide answers to all of these questions—yes 

they do! 
The 2012–2013 period also brought personal 

challenges: breast cancer, double mastectomy, 

and chemotherapy. Just over a year after 

finishing chemo, she brought her daughters, 

now 14 and 16, back to her Doctoral research 

site at Adams Lake, B.C. Together they collected 

long-term results that verified her predictions 

21 years earlier. Connected birch and firs 

were now twice the size, and healthier, than 

the controls whose roots were kept separated. 

“…the species [were] wholly interdependent 

as my research had been showing me for 

decades, wisdom long held by Aboriginal 

peoples the world over.” And it is not just 

the plants! Nitrogen analyses demonstrated 

salmon nitrogen in the rings of cedar and 

Sitka spruce from prey carried to the forest 

by bears. Her current “Mother Tree Project” 

began in 2015 in nine experimental forests 

filling an ecological gradient across British 

Columbia. Her goal is “to further develop an 

emergent philosophy: complexity science” as 

an ecological framework for ecosystem studies 

and as a forestry tool integrating cooperation 

and competition in a holistic approach to 

sustainable forest management. Her message 

to the reader: “Go find a tree—your tree…. 

Open your senses…. Vive la forêt!” 

Global Tea Science: 

Current Status and Future 


By Dr. V. S. Sharma, formerly 

UPASI Tea Research Institute of 

India, and Dr. M. T. Kumudini Gu-

nasekare, formerly Tea Research 


2018; ISBN-13: 9781786761606

Hardcover: £180.00; 558 pp.

Sri Lanka Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Limited 

Tea, from the Camellia sinensis, is the most 

widely consumed beverage in the world, after 

water (Sharma and Gunasekare, p. 85). It is 

an important economic cash crop affecting 

stakeholders, middlemen (viz., blenders, and 

traders), and consumers. Tea plantings have 

spread from China to the four corners of the 

world, from over 2000 years ago to as recently 

as the early 20th century in Kenya and Turkey. 

The selection criteria for tea quality combines 

all of the reconfiguring attributes in which 

plant grafting, successional environmental 

factors (e.g., the seasons, altitude, rainfall), 

and the chemical composition of the tea leaf 

Global Tea Science: Current Status and Future 

Needs is divided into five main parts, with its 

sub-chapters adding layers to the discussion. 

The chapters of Part 1: Tea Breeding and 

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Germplasm are divided to introduce and 

to discuss the diversity of the C. sinensis

(L.) through its beginnings in rural China 

to your teapot today. Tea, and the flowering 

beauties known as camellias, are included 

in the family of flowering plants, trees, and 

shrubs of Theaceae. The major cultivated 

tea plant comprises two varieties: C. sinensis

var.  sinensis (small leaf) and C. sinensis var. 

assamica (Masters) Kitamura (large leaf); 

there are cousin varieties grown commercially. 

Consumption is increasing worldwide and 

global tea production has almost doubled 

(in measured metric tons!) since 2001. The 

micronutrients within a cup of tea have 

protective health benefits against cancer, 

cardiovascular diseases, and obesity.
The chapters of Part 2: Cultivation and 

Agronomy focus on good agricultural 

practices essential for a plant continuously 

harvested and pruned for its yield. The 

growth of the C. sinensis originated in 

“natural forests characterized by warm and 

humid conditions and nutrient-rich soils.” 

(Sharma and Gunasekare, p. 53). Today’s tea 

farmer (like most farmers) must consider land 

selection and preparation, soil conditional 

and reconditioning, mulching, manure, and 

management of pests, disease, and weed. The 

grafting of these Camellia spp. cultivars for 

clonal development, the climatic seasons that 

affect any plant growth and in particular affect 

tea bush growth, all collaterally affect tea leaf 

growth, and ultimately the taste of your brew 

of your hot cuppa.
Tea is a finicky plant. When one is considering 

site selection, it seems that a perfect balance of 

all measurable agrarian tactics are put into play 

to nurture the little fusspot along into a viable 

crop. Extensive soil rehabilitation to eliminate 

unwanted vegetation and large rocks, plus 

soil nutrient amendment with moisture 

conservation, are not insignificant measures. 

One has to literally strip the cultivation site 

bare, then build it back for fruition. The 

cultivar qualities of black teas, esteemed for 

their strength, flavor, and appearance, are 

part of the subjective sensory assessments 

directly related to soil quality. An excellent 

summary of chemical properties that reflect 

these characteristics include the proportions 

of Aroma Groups I and II for tea flavor (think: 

taste), volatile flavor for aroma (think: smell), 

and caffeine levels in determining briskness. I 

will leave the remainder of the biochemistry 

to the reader.
The living world is vulnerable to disease at the 

various phases of development. Plants are not 

held in exception, and of course this includes 

our tea. Part 3: Plant Protection guides the 

reader/researcher through pathogenicity 

attributed to fungi, bacteria, or viruses 

affecting all parts of the C. sinensis in all of its 

life stages. Included here are also the insect-

borne diseases with a multitude of sucking, 

boring, and scavenging pests that shall thrill 

any entomologist and worry any botanist. 
After wading through a dizzying array of what 

could go wrong with tea plant cultivation at 

the beginning of the section, we arrive at the 

latter part where descriptors of Integrated 

Pest Management (IPM) strategies are 

engaged. Flexibility of IPMs are key as “ 

IPM strategy developed in one country or 

for a particular pest may not be suitable for 

adoption in another country or situation” 

(Sharma and Gunasekare, p. 302). To aid 

in ready research for all of this biological 

mayhem, Sharma and Gunasekare provide 

comprehensive references of books, book 

chapters, and internet-accessible information 

that is country-specific in the 47 pages of 

reference material, for this section, in toto.

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The surprising revelation of Part 4: Tea 

Chemistry and Phytochemicals is the length 

of biochemistry of tea discussed within 

the two chapters. These practical building 

blocks, in the guise of amino acids, vitamins, 

antioxidants, etc., are all quantified, then 

revealed for their possible function as a 

healthy food in the consecutive two chapters. 

Within Chapter 14: The Potential Role for Tea 

in Combating Chronic Diseases,  green tea 

has been shown to be inhibitory in animal-

model research, of the last decade, against 

cancer at different organ sites (Sharma and 

Gunasekare, p. 431). Epidemiological studies 

and mechanistic considerations are given 

throughout this chapter with a decade of 

recent research behind the overview. Lowered 

blood pressure and cholesterol, protection 

of some neurodegenerative diseases, and 

reduced malignant neoplasms are “...suggested 

beneficial health effects of tea consumption in 

the prevention of chronic diseases” (Sharma 

and Gunasekare, p. 441) based on animal 

Part 5: Sustainability consists of three 

chapters geared toward preserving the good 

stuff without unduly impacting the tea crops’ 

surrounding environment under changing 

climatic conditions. This final section closes 

the circle begun with the Chapter 1 discussion 

on ensuring the tea woody plant’s genetic 

diversity. Implementing organic farming 

would protect the environmentally tenuous 

tracts and water resources of tea crops in the 

hills. Sharma and Gunasekare have assembled 

the papers of academics who cover each of 

these particulars, and as at the onset of this 

volume, conclude the sustainable discussion 

country by country of the major producers of 

organic tea. 
The last chapter, Chapter 18: Supporting 

Smallholders in Tea Cultivation, ends with 

the David-and-Goliath scenarios too often 

seen in agronomy. Tea is no exception with 

shrinking cultivation ground giving way 

toward more remunerative green grocery 

products. “A continual process of farmer 

empowerment is also a prerequisite to the 

successful improvement of the position of 

smallholders in tea agribusiness.  In order to 

improve farmers’ standards of living and use 

farmers’ potential to the full, mind-sets in 

the tea industry must change and effective, 

fair, trusting and sustainable partnerships be 

developed between individuals, groups and 

farmers’ institutions with corporate partner 

institutions” (Sharma and Gunasekare, p. 

An interesting book, in its five parts and 

on the whole, the Sharma and Gunasekare 

edition of Global Tea Science: Current Status 

and Future Needs would suit the library of 

any botanical enthusiast, or academic, with 

its comprehensive collection of relevant 

publications. The humble tea leaf has mighty 

roots indeed.
—Karen Penders St. Clair, PhD

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Household Economy 

at Wall Ridge: A Four-

teenth-Century Central 

Plains Farmstead in the 

Missouri Valley

By Stephen C. Lensink, Joseph 

A. Tiffany, and Shirley J. 

Schermer [eds]

2020; ISBN: 9781607817734

Hardcover: $70.00; 288 pp.

University of Utah Press

Household Economy at Wall Ridge is a beautiful 

book of 14 chapters inclusive of figures, 

tables, online resources, and comprehensive 

references. It’s one of those books that make 

you feel, on initial inspection, that you are in 

for something special.

“The Wall Ridge project represents the 

first full-scale systematic recovery and 

complete identification of environmental 

data from a Central Plains lodge, taking 

advantage of the site’s high degree of 

complexity and completeness of the floral 

and faunal assemblages.” (Tiffany, et al., p. 1)

I could end my review with the above sentence 

as the remainder of the book is efficiently 

described. However, the scope of this 

remarkable discovery, and the careful attention 

to cataloguing detail that followed, would be 

diluted, without the due consideration given 

to our editors and of the researchers who were 

a precedent to this wonderful archeological 

From its onset, Household Economy at Wall 

Ridge is conversational between those who 

initially uncovered the Central Plains lodge in 

1983, during a survey for a road construction 

project, and those who interpreted that early 

data with 21st-century technology. The first 

five chapters introduce and give context to 

the archaeological site, as well as a vetting 

of the project methodology and results. 

These chapters stand alone, yet intertwine 

conversationally as particularities from each 

of these first five chapters’ aspects weave the 

tale between research teams separated by 

time. In each chapter, our editors give due 

consideration to the 1984 excavation team 

of Michael J. Perry, project archaeologist at 

the University of Iowa Office of the State 

Archaeologist. Emphasizing that the Perry-

team did not haphazardly approach the site, 

Lensink et al. commend:

“We  believe  the  field  and  laboratory 

methods  utilized  in  this  project  repre-

sent some of the most disciplined and 

scientifically  rigorous  ever  applied  to 

a Glenwood phase site. While they are 

now considered conventional methods 

in modern archaeological practice, 

these methods were cutting edge at the 

time of the field work in 1984. Our only 

regret is that more time and money were 

not available to permit the complete ex-

cavation of the lodge with the same high 

degree of spatial control used on the 

portion so explored.” (p. 23) 

The 21st-century investigators of our editors, 

Lensink, Tiffany, and Schermer, followed 

suit with their careful analysis and research. 

There were additional efforts in the decades 

that followed Perry to re-examine, or recreate 

maps of drainage systems, topography, early 

stratigraphic illustrations, and distribution 

of phase sites to complete the picture of 

settlement patterns, food resources, and 

cultural interactions. It is here that our 

editors pick up the mantle to pool all of this 

information into one comprehensive book. 

This, the compilation of the work conducted 

and reconnected over the course of decades, 

is the objective of Household Economy at 

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Wall Ridge. The excavation results—viz., the 

chapters on the ceramics, assortment of stone 

tools and fragments, smoking pipes, bone 

or shell tools, spoons, scrapers, or beads—

are fascinating in their own right. There are 

also comprehensive chapters on zoological 

remains, the lodge’s life told in the history of 

these remnants and housekeeping bits, and 

the collective interpretations (and summary) 

by the editors, with additional colleagues, 

for the work they elucidated in the previous 

For the purpose of our botanical 

considerations, I would like to turn the reader’s 

attention to Chapter 10: Botanical Remains 

offered by William Green. At the onset, Green 

“...provides a more comprehensive report 

on plant remains recovered from the site, 

incorporating material from the preliminary 

report and supplying additional data” (Lensink 

et al., p. 102). The analysis, comparisons, 

and quantification of all of the botanical 

specimens, i.e., seeds, nutshells, grasses, trees, 

is staggering for such an ancient site. Included 

in the site findings are Carya sp. (hickory), 

Fraxinus sp. (ash), Juglans sp. (black walnut or 

butternut), Quercus sp. (oak), and Ulmus sp. 

(elm) of which was the predominant wood for 

construction and fuel by these ancient people. 
Almost 1500 pieces and bits of maize account 

for the majority of archaeobotanical samples 

over any other collected. Included with maize 

fragments are the two other legs of the Three 

Sisters triagonate: beans and squash. Green 

explains that the variety of plants grown in 

the home garden of these ancient people 

suggests possible four-season homesteading 

rather than a nomadic lifestyle. The botanical 

chapter offers cohesion of the other chapters to 

one another because of this perennial lifestyle 

evidenced with the botanica remnants. The 

numerous tables and charts comparing small-

seed assemblages, ubiquity percentages, 

flotation samples, and more, offer hard data 

of observations and measurements. Botanical 

Remains is an interesting chapter of forensic 

botany, local ancient flora, and year-round 

cultivation study restoring new life to the 

The depth of information in this, or any of the 

Household Economy at Wall Ridge chapters, 

is singularly that of a yawning well, then the 

breadth of a lake one inch deep. Certainly, 

more laudable than I may outline here for 

you. With the last point in mind, I would 

encourage anyone interested in history, 

science, or mathematics to consider adding 

Household Economy at Wall Ridge to your 

personal or professional library. The editors 

have given such personal, credible, attention 

to the details of the Wall Ridge project that 

students of any age would benefit from its 

—Karen Penders St. Clair, PhD

Nevada Mountains: Land-

forms, Trees, and 


David A. Charlet

2019; ISBN: 978-1-60781-727-7

$75.00 (Hardcover); 432 pp.

University of Utah Press, Salt 

Lake City, UT

Nearly the entire state of Nevada lies with 

the geological province of the Basin and 

Range, which has been subjected to geological 

extensional processes in an east-to-west 

direction resulting in block faulting that has 

produced a series of mountain ranges and 

valley basins that generally trend north to 

south.  Nevada Mountains is summary of all 

the large and small mountain ranges found 

in Nevada, which the author documents in 

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this book as being 319 in total, along with 373 

valleys.  The author has done an impressive 

job in compiling this encyclopedia of Nevada’s 

mountains, and the fieldwork that supports 

the work was certainly a monumental 

The work is loosely organized as a large 

scientific paper with an introduction that 

includes a brief summary of the history of 

Nevada and the associated cartography and 

studies of physiography.  The methods section 

discusses geographic names and provides 

details on the author’s development of base 

maps and the interpretation of primary 

physiographic features.  The results provide a 

summary of the statistics of his work for the 

major categories of mountains, valleys, fan 

piedmonts, and other major features and a 

very nice set of maps of enlarged sections of 

the state with each mountain range identified 

by number that corresponds to its number 

and description.  The enlarged section maps 

(ESMs) are very well done and are numbered 

as Figures I.11 - I.23.  The area each ESM 

covers within the state of Nevada is provided 

on Reference Map Figure I.24.  
Unfortunately, there are problems with the 

figure numbers for these ESMs. The first 

being that the figure caption for each ESM 

is one number less than the corresponding 

area shown on Reference Map Figure I.24, 

thus I.11 actually corresponds to I.12, I.12 

corresponds to I.13, and so on up through the 

Figure labeled I.20 (Ref. map number I.21).  A 

second problem is that the map identified as 

Figure I.21 has no corresponding map on the 

Reference Map and does not fit in the series 

as it is a map of northeastern California and 

northwestern Nevada, illustrating the extent 

of pluvial lakes during the Pleistocene, and 

appears to be a different enlargement of a 

section of Figure 1.9 and would fit better near it.  

A third puzzling feature of the Reference Map 

Figure I.24 and the associated enlargements 

of sections is the numbering system used, 

which starts in the northwest corner (Fig. 

I-12) moves east (I-13, then I-14), then drops 

to southeast (I-15), back up to the central-east 

(I-16), then back to extreme southern Nevada 

(I-17), back to center of the state (I-18), etc.  

It is very confusing to keep the order in mind 

and to know what the adjacent ESM is to the 

one that the reader may be viewing.  
A final point of inconsistency in these figures 

and the Reference Map is that the figures 

are referred to as, e.g., I.12, I.13, I.14, etc. in 

the captions, whereas on the Reference Map 

each ESM is listed as I - 12, I - 13, I -14, etc. A 

minor problem, but it adds to the confusion.  

These ESMs are the centerpiece of the book 

and critical to locate mountain ranges, their 

identification numbers, and descriptions in 

the remainder of the book.  It is surprising 

there are so many problems with these very 

important maps.  Finally, Figure I.25 shows 

the location of historic settlements in small 

green pentagons, which the author discusses 

within a given mountain range; however, 

there is no way to identify what specific green 

point corresponds to a settlement discussed 

in the mountain range narrative.  This map 

would be enhanced if these green pentagons 

were included on the ESMs and labeled in 

some manner.
A larger section on Nevada vegetation follows 

a brief conclusion, and this section distills 

and summarizes the extensive vegetation 

analysis conducted by the author during more 

than 30 years of field work.  The vegetation 

is primarily classified by a relatively coarse 

system of life zones that the author developed 

and describes and allows the author to 

describe the vegetation in each mountain 

range in a brief, descriptive and organized 

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fashion.  Supporting figures for this section 

are in Figure IIA.2 (Rank Order of Flowering 

Tree Species) and Figure IIA.4 (Rank Order 

of Conifer Species), which as presented are 

interesting but would be more informative if 

the species corresponding to each histogram 

bar was identified by species or a code tied to 

the species listings in Appendices D and E, 

which correspond to the figures, respectively.  

A nice compendium of large color photos 

(Figures II.1 to II.7) illustrate the authors life 

The core of the book is comprised of the 

descriptions of each of the 319 named mountain 

ranges, which occupies 147 pages of the text.  

The descriptions have a consistent format and 

narrative, with the first paragraph describing 

the mountain range location, physiography, 

and geology; the second paragraph presents a 

description of cultural features that emphasize 

the period since colonization; and the third 

and remaining paragraphs describe the 

vegetation using the author’s life zones and 

species selected for discussion by the author, 

which emphasize trees and shrubs.  At the end 

is a listing of the years the author visited the 

individual mountain range, which in many 

cases is amazing.
Following the section on mountain ranges are 

three large appendices that allow the reader 

to search for mountain ranges and find their 

description. They list the county, counties, or 

state(s) the feature is found in which is helpful, 

although even more helpful would have been 

a cross reference to the ESMs found at the 

beginning of the book so they could be more 

readily found there as well.
The primary problem with the book is the 

confusing labeling between the ESM figure 

captions and their identification on the 

Reference Map.  This can be readily corrected 

in a subsequent edition but cause the reader 

confusion in this edition.  A nice addition or 

correction would be to print a new large paper 

map that could be folded and unfolded that 

would be used in conjunction with the book.  

This map could have the full state on one 

side and selected ESMs on the reverse.  The 

hardbound book appears to be well made, but 

unfortunately some of the pages of the ESMs 

came loose during my review of the book.
Overall, this an excellent book for a person 

looking for an atlas and encyclopedic 

treatment of the Nevada mountain ranges 

with an interest in vegetation.  For anyone 

interested in Nevada biology, geology, or 

geography, or who enjoys traveling and hiking 

within the state, it is fascinating to peruse and 

read about the individual mountain ranges 

and see their similarities and differences to 

other ranges.  This book is also an excellent 

introduction to vegetation of the Great Basin 

in Nevada, with the understanding that these 

life zones are quite coarse.

—Richard Lis, California Department of Fish 

and Wildlife, Redding, CA

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Planet Palm. How Palm 

Oil Became an Ingredi-

ent in Everything—and 

Endangered the World

Jocelyn C. Zuckerman

2021; ISBN: 978-1-62097-523-7 

Hardcover, $27.99; ebook 

1787383784; 272 pp. 

The New Press, Portland, OR

Rising global demand for vegetable oil as 

biofuel and for product innovations during 

recent decades has led to a dramatic increase 

in land area cultivated with West African 

oil palm, Elaeis guineensis Jacq. Especially 

in Southeast Asia, the oil palm boom has 

contributed to economic growth but has 

also led to undesirable environmental 

effects, contributing to tropical deforestation 

and loss in biodiversity and ecosystem 

functions.  Financial returns to the majority, 

smallholder growers, have been meager, while 

multinational corporations have profited in 

Journalist Jocelyn Zuckerman, former deputy 

editor of Gourmet, articles editor of OnEarth

and executive editor of  Modern Farmer has 

dipped deep into institutional archives to 

augment her investigative fieldwork about 

oil palm cultivation in Africa, Asia, and 

Latin America. A serious journalist with 

healthy skepticism, Zuckerman researched 

and interprets oil palm through an ecological 

and historical lens, delving into complex 

details dating back to colonialism, fleshing 

out the scandals described briefly by Gray 

(2018, previously reviewed in PSB). This is a 

provocative, pioneering account of the history 

of oil palm production, with accompanying 

ecological destruction by the African oil palm 

industry to the environment, and to impaired 

human health worldwide. Harvesting and 

processing the bunches of shiny red fruit is 

linked to massive greenhouse gas emissions; 

forced labor, poor sanitation, and human 

rights abuses are common on plantations, 

especially in countries where repressive 

regimes thrive.
Over the past few decades, oil palm has seeped 

into every corner of our lives. Worldwide, oil 

palm production has nearly doubled in just the 

last decade: in some form it occurs in roughly 

half the products on U.S. grocery shelves. The 

oil palm rush has been built on stolen land and 

slave labor, erasing cultures and devastating 

the landscapes of Southeast Asia such that 

iconic orangutans, helmeted hornbills, and 

many of the world’s most biodiverse forests 

now face extinction. Fires clearing the forest 

for plantations discharge carbon emissions 

that surpass those of industrialized nations. 

The concern is that governments facing 

deficits “…will be tempted to cut the budgets 

of enforcement agencies and license new 

investment projects that could lead to more 

forest loss” (Fountain 2021, quoting Frances 

Seymour, World Resources Institute). Rivers 

have become so contaminated that their waters 

are no longer potable; the local population 

that relied on river fish are food insecure, now 

relying on processed food; the only fish hardy 

enough to survive is ‘el avión,’ or “cylindrical 

and solid, like an armored military aircraft” 

(photo, p. 177)—inedible, bony, whiskered.
Part 1 reports on the oil palm trade’s 

colonial beginnings, with British imperialists 

George Goldie and William Lever marching 

arrogantly into Africa in the 19th century 

and monopolizing the oil palm business. 

Both exploited African labor while pushing 

indigenous traders out of their own markets. 

African oil palm was one among other natural 

resources that provoked the scramble for 

Africa by European colonizers through the late 

19th century. Zuckerman provides evidence 

that the British soap-making company Lever 

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Brothers (now part of Unilever) used slave 

labor to harvest oil palm on the 1.8 million 

acres it controlled in the Belgian Congo. 
Part 2 holds the core of Zuckerman’s exposé, 

as she relates a disturbing catalogue of 

contemporary evils associated with the oil 

palm trade, including the exploitative practices 

of today’s multinational corporations, 

sequentially documented methodically 

by Qaim et al. (2020). Plantation workers 

in Honduras are subjected to hazardous 

chemicals, with no protective gear, for 

appallingly low wages; electrocutions and 

other workplace accidents are common, 

and workers meet violent retribution when 

they try to organize unions. She reports its 

biological damage as well as the adverse health 

effects of oil palm by its use in cheap, high-

calorie foods: “It’s common to blame sugar 

for the world’s weight problems, but in the 

last half-century, refined vegetable oils have 

added far more calories to the global diet than 

has any other food group.” Zuckerman links 

the cultivation and production of oil palm to 

“the combined twenty-first-century crises of 

obesity, malnutrition, and climate change.” 

Health impacts of oil palm—epidemics of 

obesity and heart disease in parts of the 

developing world, where it is increasingly 

used to produce inexpensive snacks—are dire; 

when processed at high temperatures, it can 

even cause cancer.
An ingredient in everything from toothpaste 

to non-dairy creamer, bread, instant noodles, 

cookies, ice cream, chocolate, detergent, 

lipstick and lotion, oil palm now accounts for a 

third of the world’s vegetable oil consumption. 

Many products that use oil palm aren’t 

clearly labeled. Oil palm and its derivatives 

can appear under many names, including: 

Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, 

Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, 

Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl stearate, 

Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, 

Palm Stearin, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, 

Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth 

Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium 

Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Cetyl 

palmitate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, 

Hydrated Palm Glycerides, Ethyl Palmitate, 

Octyl Palmitate, and Palmityl Alcohol (World 

Wildlife Fund, n.d.). 
Zuckerman’s documentation is outstanding 

for the most part, but occasionally she, as 

other writers do, repeats and misrepresents 

unverified data as fact (e.g., on page 8: 

“Archaeological findings suggest that the 

Egyptians were trading palm oil as early as 

3000 BC”; her Notes cite a secondary source, 

but aving spent hours pursuing that citation, 

it led only to another secondary source 

[Raymond, 1961]). According to esteemed 

archaeobotanist Dorian Fuller, “No I have 

never come across evidence for this, and 

think is it very unlikely. Although wild oil 

palm use in Ghana goes back to middle/

early Holocene, evidence for cultivation or 

at least management of forests to increase oil 

palms, probably starts around 2000–1500 BC 

only. There is NO evidence for trade between 

western Africa and the Nile that early. 

Although Egyptians did trade out into the 

desert in the Old Kingdom, it is not entirely 

clear where they were headed; it seems very 

unlikely that they were in contact with any 

region further than Lake Chad. By far most 

of their trade was Eastern Mediterranean, 

Red Sea, and with Nubia/Sudan via the Nile.” 

It is frustrating to search for Literature Cited 

buried in 45 pages of Notes, and those lack 

full references. 
Zuckerman’s prose is engaging, and 

her advocacy is superb. I recommend 

wholeheartedly this general interest book 

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about a crop that has become an environmental, 

public health, and humanitarian disaster. 

Closing with the author’s own cautionary 

words from the Epilogue: “If we have any 

hope of feeding 9 billion people by 2050, we 

must stop planting land with commodities 

destined for animals’ stomachs and fuel tanks 

and instead cultivate crops meant for humans, 

in particular nutritious options like healthy 

grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.” 


Fountain, H. 2021. Covid slowed the world, yet defor-

estation sped up. The New York Times March 31, p A11.
Gray, F. 2018. Palm. Reaktion Books, Ltd., London. 
Qaim, M., K. T. Sibhatu, H. Siregar, and I. Grass. 2020. 

Environmental, economic, and social consequences of 

the oil palm boom. Annual Review of Resource Eco-

nomics 12: 321-344.
Raymond, W. D. 1961. The Oil Palm Industry. Tropical 

Science 3: 69-89.  
World Wildlife Fund. n.d. Website:


–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, 

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, 

Missouri, USA

Rosa: The Story of the 


Peter E. Kukielski with Charles 


2021; ISBN: 9780300251111

Hardcover, $30, £22.00; 

256 pp. 

Yale University Press, 

New Haven CT

The perennially popular ornamental Rosa

L. acquired a new volume that praises its 

virtues, considering its impact in world 

societies and religious practices throughout 

history, enhanced with 143 color illustrations. 

Kukielski curated the New York Botanical 

Garden’s rose garden, between 2006 and 2014. 

His passion is palpable. The authors depict 

Rosa as exceptional: no other flower has the 

same magnetism or significance. A symbol of 

beauty, affection, sovereignty, and celebration, 

roses appear literally and symbolically in 

art, fashion, perfume, ornaments, literature, 

poetry, song, mythology, politics, medicine, 

and cuisine. 
Classification and nomenclature of roses open 

this story. Against the authors’ suggestion 

of Anatolia as its source, Iwata et al. (2000) 

indicate the foothills of central Asia; Kiani 

et al. (2010a, b), using RAPDs and SSRs, 

reported that the germplasm of R. damascena

Mill. in Iran is more diverse than that found in 

Bulgaria or Turkey. Accordingly, R. damascena

in these countries was probably obtained from 

Iran; given the high diversity found for this 

species in Iran, the latter seems a major center 

of diversity for the species. 
Extraction of its prized oil used carrier oils, 

and later, distillation. Quoting the authors: 

“Rose oil was made by immersing rose petals 

in oils such as almond, sesame, and olive”; “For 

roses, sesame oil was used because of its thicker 

qualities that held the fragrance.” “Thicker 

qualities” notwithstanding, overlooked is 

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summer comes, it fades and is gone.”
The mediaeval Catholicos Grigoris of 

Aghtamar (15th century) analyzed the poetics 

of love symbolized by the rose and nightingale, 

borrowing from the Persian:

When the nightingale persists in her 

demand for a single red rose, the rose tree 

says that there is one way that could be 

arranged. The nightingale would have to 

pierce her heart on one of the rose tree’s 

thorns and sing all night by moonlight 

while the blood flowed out of her body 

and into the tree.

Since rosewater and water features are 

showcased in Rosa,  the Armenian water 

festival Vardavar [Վարդավառ]  (Raffi, 

1916; Taqizadeh, 1940; Villa and Matossian, 

1982; Rose, 2011; Najarian, 2012; Antonyan 

and Siekierski, 2013; Abrahamyan, 2014; 

Ohanyan, 2014; Catlin, 2018), must be 

mentioned. Vardavar is a joyous summer 

ritual observance that occurs 98 days after 

Easter, which in the Christian calendar 

became designated as Transfiguration. While 

Christian, this ritual has pagan antecedents 

related to the cult of fertility goddess Astghik 

(Assyria and Babylon: Ishtar; Greece: Artemis, 

Aphrodite; Rome: Diana, Anahit). Armenians 

have retained the popular festival tradition 

of sprinkling, even pelting, one another with 

water and rose petals;

 in some places, they 

release white doves, in remembrance of Noah 

after the Flood. 

Accustomed as I am to academic writing, 

it is disappointing that so many topics were 

touched on lightly, without attribution. There 

is also geographic disarray that is jarring: 

under the section heading “Persian Poetry 

and Roses,” the Kama Sutra appears in the 

final paragraph. The two-page chapter titled 

“The Delights of Turkey” jumbles cuneiform 

tablets, Boeotia (a region in central Greece), 

the enfleurage extraction method, whereby 

rose petals are spread over trays coated with 

a layer of fat, or upon a bed of sesame seeds 

that become saturated with rose essential oils 

by diffusion. Depleted petals are replaced 

repeatedly with fresh ones; those augmented 

sesame seeds are crushed with mortar and 

pestle to obtain high-quality concentrates, 

forming rose absolute (Bedigian, 2011, p. 9).
Despite the authors’ global scope, examples 

from Armenia are conspicuously absent. 

The Armenian term 


(vard)  is a 

Northwestern Iranian loan word (Beekes, 

2010), cognate with the Iranian root *vrda-: 

“The word is certainly borrowed from the 

East… Arm[enian] vard ‘rose’ from OIran. 

Roses feature prominently in Armenian 

culture, religious practice, poetry, and song, 

since antiquity. Armenian Legends and Poems

(Boyajian, 1916) contains dozens of references 

to rose—literal and metaphorical—in essay, 

lullaby, poem, and riddle. The famed bard and 

poet Sayat Nova [Sayatyan (1712–1795)] wrote 

the following lament, which I felt firsthand a 

month ago when a vandal climbed up a steep 

bank to clip our roses, just as they had begun 

flowering this year:

“I made a garden, others plucked the 

Theirs was the sweetness, mine the 

thorny close.”

It was customary in early days—still retained 

in some places—for a man to test the girl 

he wishes to marry with a riddle (Boyajian, 

1916, p. 117). Her correct answer sealed the 

deal. Among riddles used on these occasions: 

“What rose is it that opens in the winter and in 

due time fades and is gone?” Answer: “Snow 

is the rose that opens in the winter; when 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


and Cyrenaica (eastern coastal Libya), leading 

to choppiness that is difficult to follow. 

Another serious problem is that the authors 

provided no explanation of the methods used 

to elicit and edit their data. This book may be 

appreciated by casual readers, but scholars 

wishing for sources with more substance 

should study Başer et al. (2012), upon which 

the authors relied heavily; also, Devi et al. 

(2015), Hamedi et al. (2013), Horwood (2018), 

Mahboubi (2016), Pifer (2020), Sardari et al. 

(2019) and Widrlechner (1981). Although 

published sources about roses are plentiful, 

the Bibliography (two pages) is brief.
Well-bound, Rosa should hold up to heavy use 

as a general interest library book. The value 

of this book lies in its capacity to encourage 

the browser of popular books to engage with 

science. Via the vehicle of the venerated rose, 

readers can venture into the world of plant 

biology through the doorway that ethnobotany 

opens, bringing together traditional and 

scientific knowledge to promote plant-based 

content in the humanities. 


Abrahamyan H. 2014. The Vardavar celebration among 

Armenians. PhD dissertation, Institute of Archaeology 

and Ethnography, National Academy of Science, Yere-

van. [In Armenian].
Antonyan, Y., and K. Siekierski. 2013. A neopagan 

movement in Armenia: The children of Ara. In: K. 

Aitamurto, S. Simpson (Eds). Modern Pagan and Na-

tive Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Acumen Publ. Ltd, Durham UK and Bristol CT. pp. 

Başer, K. H. C., A. Altintaș, and M. Kürkçüoglu. 2012. 

Turkish rose. A review of the history, ethnobotany, and 

modern uses of rose petals, rose oil, rose water, and 

other rose products. Herbalgram 96: 40-53.
Bedigian, D. 2011. Introduction. History of the culti-

vation and use of sesame. In Bedigian D, Ed. Sesame: 

the genus Sesamum. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants - 

Industrial Profiles series. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis 

Group, Boca Raton, FL. pp. 1-31.

Beekes, R. 2010. Etymological Dictionary of Greek. 

Online Etymological Dictionary https://www.etymon-  Brill, Leiden, Netherlands.
Boyajian, Z. C., compiler. 1916. Armenian Legends 

and Poems. E.P. Dutton & Co., NY. 
Catlin, R. 2018. The point of Armenia’s splashy holiday 

is getting wet. Smithsonian Magazine July 3 https://

Devi, M. P., S. Chakrabarty, S. K. Ghosh, and N. 

Bhowmick. 2015. Essential oil: Its economic aspect, 

extraction, importance, uses, hazards and quality. In: 

AB Sharangi, S. Datta, Eds. Value Addition of Horti-

cultural Crops: Recent Trends 269 and Future Direc-

tions. pp. 269-278.
Grigoris of Aghtamar. 15


 c. Concerning the rose and 

the nightingale. In: Z. C. Boyajian, compiler, 1916. Ar-

menian Legends and Poems. E.P. Dutton & Co., NY. 

pp. 79-83.
Horwood, C. 2018. Rose. Reaktion Books, London. 
Iwata, H., T. Kato, and S. Ohno. 2000. Triparental ori-

gin of Damask roses. Gene 259: 53-59.
Kiani, M., Z. Zamani, A. Khalighi, R. Fatahi, and D. H. 

Byrne. 2010a. Microsatellite analysis of Iranian Dam-

ask rose (Rosa damascena Mill.) germplasm. Plant 

Breeding 129: 551-557.
Kiani, M., Z. Zamani, A. Khalighi, R. Fatahi, and D. H. 

Byrne. 2010b. A unique germplasm of Damask roses in 

Iran. Acta Horticulturae 870: 131-136.
Mahboubi, M. 2016. Rosa damascena as holy ancient 

herb with novel applications. Journal of Traditional 

and Complementary Medicine 6: 10-16.
Najarian, T. 2012. Armenian Traditions: Vartavar.


Mahboubi, M. 2016. Rosa damascena as holy ancient 

herb with novel applications. Journal of Traditional 

and Complementary Medicine 6: 10-16.
Ohanyan, H. 2015. Water as a symbol of spiritual 

rebirth in the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy 

Church. M.S. thesis. Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox 

Institute, Graduate Theological Union, University of 

California Berkeley, Burbank CA.
Pifer, M. 2020. The Rose of Muḥammad, the fragrance 

of Christ: Liminal poetics in medieval Anatolia. Medi-

eval Encounters 26: 285-320.
Raffi, A. 1916. Armenia: Its epics, folk songs, and me-

diaeval poetry. In: Z. C. Boyajian, compiler. Armenian 

Legends and Poems. E.P. Dutton & Co., NY. p. 167.
Rose, J. 2011. In praise of the good waters: Continu-

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PSB 67(3) 2021


ity and purpose in Zoroastrian lay rituals. In: N. Ba-

gherpour-Kashani, T. Stöllner, Eds. Water and Caves 

in Ancient Iranian Religion: Aspects of Archaeology, 

Cultural History and Religion. pp. 141-155.
Sardari, F. A., G. Mosleh, A. Azadi, A. Mohagheghza-

deh, and P. Badr. 2019. Traditional and recent evidence 

on  five  phytopharmaceuticals  from  Rosa damascena

Herrm. Research Journal of Pharmacognosy 6: 77-84.
Sayatyan, H. [Sayat Nova, (1712-1795)]. 1916. With-

out thee what are song and dance to me? In: Z. C. Boy-

ajian, compiler.  Armenian Legends and Poems. E.P. 

Dutton & Co., NY. p. 35.
Taqizadeh, S. H. 1940. Iranian festivals adopted by the 

Christians and condemned by the Jews. Bulletin of the 

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of 

London 10: 632-653.
Villa, S. H., and M. K. Matossian. 1982. Armenian Vil-

lage Life Before 1914. Wayne State University Press, 

Detroit MI.
Widrlechner, M. P. 1981. History and utilization of 

Rosa damascenaEconomic Botany 35: 42-58.

–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, 

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri

Temperate Garden Plant 

Families: The Essential 

Guide to Identification and 


Peter Goldblatt and John C. Man-


2019; ISBN: 9781604694987

Hardcover: $45.00; 296 pp.

Portland, OR: Timber Press.

For many botanists, our vocation began as a 

fascination with the plants we encountered 

in the world around us. “What is this plant?” 

we wondered, quickly followed by, “How 

is this one different than the next? How are 

they similar? Why are they interesting or 

useful to humans? What is their broader role 

in the natural world?” Those of us whose 

interests lie in teaching or mentoring the next 

generation of plant enthusiasts not only ask 

these questions on our own, but also dedicate 

ourselves to teaching our students how to 

ask—and answer—them. 

For this reason, Goldblatt and Manning’s 

Temperate Garden Plant Families can best 

be viewed not just as a gardener’s reference, 

but as a valuable teaching tool. Reminiscent 

of Deborah Madison’s (2013) family-based 

cookbook Vegetable Literacy, the Guide 

challenges readers to think about their daily 

experiences in human-managed landscapes 

from a deeper phylogenetic perspective. The 

2019 release from Timber Press reviews 157 

plant families (of a total of ~450 globally) whose 

constituent species are cultivated in temperate 

gardens. Well-researched and elegantly 

composed two experts—Dr. Goldblatt in 

Iridaceae and Dr. Manning in Iridaceae and 

Hyacinthaceae—this book will be of obvious 

use to horticulturists and gardeners with a 

scholarly bent. But just as importantly, it will 

also serve as an essential resource to teachers 

of plant biology seeking to ground students’ 

developing ad hoc plant identification skills 

within a greater evolutionary and ecological 

As a teaching tool, Temperate Garden Plant 

Families is clearly and intuitively organized. 

The bulk of the text corresponds to an A-Z 

guide to the 92 plant families singled out 

by Goldblatt and Manning for detailed 

description. Each entry includes the focal 

family’s common name(s); counts or estimates 

of the genera and species contained therein; 

information about the family’s geographic 

range, vegetative form, flowers, and fruits; and 

a narrative section providing natural history 

and horticultural information. Selected 

genera are also highlighted for large families. 

An additional 35 families are presented 

as addenda within the A-Z segment. For 

instance, the peonies (Paeonia spp.) were 

long considered part of the buttercup family, 

Ranunculaceae, but have subsequently been 

reclassified based on molecular evidence as 

a monogeneric family in the Saxifragales. 

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By describing Paeoniaceae briefly at the end 

of the Ranunculaceae entry, rather than that 

for Saxifragaceae, Goldblatt and Manning 

provide an updated systematic treatment 

while honoring the previous placement of 

the peonies. Such thoughtful touches make it 

easy for intermediate or advanced botanists to 

locate even relatively obscure groups of plants 

within the A-Z portion of the book, without 

alienating novices.
Some additional text blanketing the 

alphabetical listing of major temperate 

horticultural plant families contributes 

helpful context to the encyclopedic A-Z 

treatment. The book’s Introduction details the 

authors’ motivations and orients a beginning 

reader to modern conventions in systematics 

(with particular focus on the family through 

species level); areas of disagreement or rapid 

change in family classification (e.g., the 

recent subsumption of the horse chestnuts 

[Hippocastanaceae] into the soapberry family 

[Sapindaceae]); and to the language used to 

describe the morphology of vegetative parts, 

inflorescences, flowers, and fruits. The last 

section, which provides language necessary 

for new botanists to parse many of the A-Z 

descriptions (e.g., the flowers of Asparagaceae 

are “usually bisexual, sometimes unisexual, 

in racemes, spikes, or axillary clusters” [p. 

61]), would have benefited, by my lights, from 

some expansion and illustration. For instance, 

even simple ink illustrations of leaf shapes, 

inflorescence patterns, flower structures, 

etc. along the lines of those in Harris and 

Harris’s Plant Identification Terminology

(1994) would have served as helpful visual 

guides complementing the descriptive text. 

A glossary following the A-Z section clarifies 

some of these terms, but illustrations would 

have been, in my opinion, more accessible to 

some readers. And finally, the end matter of 

the book is rounded out by brief treatment 

of 30 families represented in temperate 

gardens by only a single genus (e.g., Asimina

[Annonaceae], known in the temperate world 

largely as home of the pawpaw, A. triloba) and 

not covered in the A-Z section. Generally, 

though, it is a strength of this Guide that the 

majority of its pages are devoted to a simple and 

formulaic structure, with minimal and helpful 

material on either end providing context and 

additional connections in a way that does not 

distract from the main text. I anticipate that 

most readers, regardless of background, will 

dive right into the A-Z section and will only 

appeal to the text preceding or following it as 

Having enjoyed reading Temperate Garden 

Plant Families on my own, I look forward 

to including it as a supplementary text in 

my teaching of Plant Biology at Swarthmore 

College this fall. The Guide will be especially 

helpful in encouraging new botanists to 

cultivate what MacKenzie and colleagues 

(2019) call “plant love”: a deeper relationship 

of appreciation for and understanding of 

plants using a variety on sensuous and 

intellectual modalities. I intend for students to 

rely on Goldblatt and Manning’s text as a guide 

to the deeper evolutionary patterns behind 

the juxtaposed floral similarity and diversity 

within the peas (Fabaceae) or the characteristic 

aromas of some of the temperate laurels 

(Lauraceae). Plant families, which provide 

a broad and simple enough superstructure 

to enclose the often-overwhelming diversity 

of genera species, are the perfect place for 

students to start developing plant love. And 

the thoughtful, clear, and modern approach 

taken by Goldblatt and Manning has resulted 

in a useful and gratifying resource for them, as 

well as for their instructor. 

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Harris, J. G., and M. W. Harris. 1994. Plant Identifica-

tion Terminology. Spring Lake, UT: Spring Lake Pub-

MacKenzie, C. M., S. Kuebbing, R. S. Barak, M. Bletz, 

J. Dudney, B. M. McGill, M. A. Nocco, et al. 2019. We 

do not want to “cure plant blindness” we want to grow 

plant love. Plants, People, Planet 1: 139-141.
Madison, D. 2013. Vegetable Literacy. Berkeley: Ten 
Speed Press.

--J. Grossman, PhD, Swarthmore College, 

Swarthmore, PA

The Collectors: Creating 

Hans Sloane’s Extraordi-

nary Herbarium

Mark Carine (Editor)

2020; ISBN 978-0565094881

Hardcover, $34.75; 192 pp. 

Natural History Museum, Lon-


In 1687, Sir Hans Sloane went to Jamaica 

as the personal physician of the Duke of 

Albemarle, its newly appointed governor. 

There he began to amass an extraordinary, 

vast biological collection that eventually 

formed the basis of the British Museum. 

In 1881, Sloane’s botanical collections were 

transferred to the newly established Natural 

History Museum. Twenty-four contributors to 

The Collectors help readers to understand how 

Sloane (1660–1759) and his contemporaries 

collected, organized, and classified the world, 

providing readers with a visual view of the 

colonial footprint upon plant taxonomy. The 

Sloane Herbarium is, in fact, a collection 

of collections, representing the rich history 

of exploration and discovery that began in 

the late 17th century. More than 300 people 

contributed to its network as collectors; 

more than 70 countries and territories were 


Historian James Delbourgo’s pivotal essay 

about Sir Hans Sloane, based on expertise 

from research for his acclaimed 2017 history 

Collecting the World, explores the complex 

interconnections between botanical aspects 

and their human informants, many of whom 

were slaves. Regarding Sloane’s attention 

to  Theobroma cacao L. the species, and 

chocolate as a commodity, Delbourgo states, 

“His motivations as a collector in Jamaica 

were scientific, medicinal, commercial and 

imperialist” (p. 128).
The Sloane Herbarium specimens collected 

during his voyage to Jamaica (1687–1689) are 

the first plant specimens to be brought back 

to England from that region. Those specimens 

were used in preparing the illustrations and 

text for Sloane’s Voyage to the Islands Madera, 

Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers, and Jamaica.

Delbourgo’s closing words epitomize vastly 

complex contrasting forces: “It demonstrates 

the scientific productivity of slavery and 

imperialism during the long history of the 

Columbian Exchange that remade Europe, 

the Americas and Africa ecologically and 

economically in the early modern era. As 

such, it raises fundamental and challenging 

questions about whose labour and knowledge 

it contains, how it was produced, and how to 

confront its legacy today” (p. 133).
Similarly, Kathleen Murphy’s essay about 

Edward Bartar remarks on the intersection 

of botanical exploration with the British slave 

trade. Of interest to taxonomists: “Bartar’s 

collecting efforts ultimately did not meet his 

English friends’ high expectations” (p. 126). 

Included is botanist James Petiver’s complaint, 

still often expressed by contemporary 

botanists about incomplete vouchers: Some of 

Bartar’s specimens contained “only leaves and 

[were] wanting either flower or fruit or both” 

(p. 127).

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Studying this book about the Sloane herbarium 

has specific appeal to this reader for several 

reasons. Sir Hans Sloane and Samuel Browne 

both figured prominently in early research 

about African origins of sesame cultivation 

in the Americas. The British Museum’s Sloane 

herbarium holds two voucher specimens of 

sesame: Richardson 191, BM; Sloane 192, BM, 

the latter named Sesamum ueterum, collected 

in Jamaica (Bedigian, 2013, p. 92).
Even more significantly, The Collectors cites 

Hortus Malabaricus (p. 172), compiled 

by Hendrik van Rheede tot Drakenstein, 

whose engraving, originally published by 

Burman (1689: 107, Tab. 55), is the earliest 

known illustration of Sesamum indicum L. 

subsp.  malabaricum (Burm.) Bedigian, now 

recognized as the progenitor of domesticated 

sesame (Bedigian, 1984). That engraving 

has been revitalized as Figures 1 and 28, 

respectively (Bedigian, 2014, p. 7; 2015, p. 28). 
It has been an absolute delight to read this 

outstanding series of essays, so well researched 

and clearly written by scholars who are 

expert botanists and historians of science; 

the editing is also superb. Sir Hans Sloane’s 

herbarium embodies a priceless history of 

plant exploration that remains of considerable 

scientific and historical value today. This 

elegant, bountifully illustrated volume reveals 

the lives of the people who assembled the vast 

biological collection, with accounts of their 

adventures as they searched.  It can be valued 

by botanists in all disciplines as a carefully 

composed contribution to the history of plant 



Bedigian, D. 1984. Sesamum indicum L. Crop 

origin, diversity, chemistry and ethnobotany.  

Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois, Ur-

Bedigian, D. 2013. African origins of sesame 

cultivation in the Americas. In: R. Voeks, J. 

Rashford (Eds). African Ethnobotany in the 

Americas. Springer, NY. pp 67-120.
Bedigian, D. 2014. A new combination for the 

Indian progenitor of sesame, Sesamum indi-

cum L. (Pedaliaceae). Novon 23: 5-13.
Bedigian, D. 2015. Systematics and evolution 

in Sesamum L. (Pedaliaceae), part 1: Evidence 

regarding the origin of sesame and its closest 

relatives. Webbia 70: 1-42.
Delbourgo, J. 2017. Collecting the World. 

Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British 

Museum. Harvard University Press, Cam-

bridge, MA.
–Dorothea Bedigian, Research Associate, Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 


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PSB 67(3) 2021


The Wardian Case: How a 

Simple Box Moved Plants 

and Changed the World

By Luke Keogh 

2020. ISBN: 9780226713618

Hardcover, US$35.00; 288 pp.

University of Chicago Press, 


From the beginning of the 

age of discovery, voyagers attempted to ship 

exotic plants to their homelands, to return 

with some of the botanical wonders they had 

encountered. Besides the scarcity of potable 

water on ships and the salinity of sea breezes, 

plants on deck could be subjected to blazing 

sun and violent storms. It is amazing that 

despite these problems, many new species 

arrived in Europe, often as carefully packed 

seeds, cuttings, or seedlings. A significant 

advance in the movement of plants came 

in 1829 when a British physician named 

Nathaniel Ward developed what became the 

Wardian case, although he never patented it. 

Ward was studying the life cycle of moths. For 

observation purposes, he put eggs along with 

some soil and leaf debris into a wide-mouthed 

glass bottle and covered it with a lid. The 

insects flourished, but a fern and a grass plant 

also began growing in the moist environment 

and lived there for three years. 
As Luke Keogh describes in his fascinating 

and well-written book on the invention, this 

success gave Ward the idea of growing plants 

in boxes with glass lids to let sunlight in as a 

way to protect delicate species from London 

pollution. He also thought a different version of 

the case could be used for transporting plants 

on long ocean voyages. An avid gardener, 

Ward was friendly with the nurseryman, 

George Loddiges. Together they filled two 

glass-lidded wooden boxes with ferns, mosses, 

and grasses, and loaded them onto a ship 

bound for Australia. Five months later the 

cases arrived at their destination with most of 

their contents alive and in good condition. In 

the second part of the experiment, the same 

boxes, now filled with Australian species, 

were shipped back to England. These too 

fared well, and word of this success spread 

quickly in the horticultural community. Soon 

plant hunters for British nurseries such as 

Veitch & Sons and botanists such as William 

Jackson Hooker at the Royal Botanic Gardens, 

Kew were shipping plants at a much faster rate 

than in the past, and with better results. After 

Nathaniel Wallich, director of the Calcutta 

Botanic Garden, sent cases of plants to the 

Jardin des Plantes in Paris, French botanists 

were soon using them too. Eventually, the 

French and Germans employed more cases 

than did the British. 
There were still problems. On shipboard, 

plants did best when cared for by a gardener 

or crewman with horticultural expertise. Also, 

shorter voyages brought better results, with 

the introduction of steamships a real boon. 

What all this transport meant was not only the 

successful introduction of exotics into Europe 

but their movement around the world. Robert 

Fortune shipped tea plants from China to 

India along with expert Chinese growers who 

made sure that the plants thrived in their new 

location. As Alistair Watt (2017) reveals in a 

book on Fortune’s travels, the collector did not 

“steal” tea plants from China, as the story is 

often told, but sent them with the cognizance of 

Chinese officials. In fact, Fortune left England 

with three Wardian cases filled with plants 

that he gave as gifts to Chinese nurserymen. 

Meanwhile the British also shipped cinchona 

seedlings to India from Kew, where they had 

been grown from seeds Richard Spruce had 

collected in South America. The French and 

Dutch sent plants from their colonial gardens 

back to their homelands as well as to other 

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PSB 67(3) 2021


colonies. Through such transplantations, 

Brazilian rubber trees and Mexican vanilla 

orchids came to be grown on Southeast Asian 

plantations and 70% of cocoa beans from the 

South American cacao tree are now produced 

in West Africa.
For many of us, it is in horticulture that the 

effect of the Wardian case is most obvious 

with plants from around the world flourishing 

in our gardens. Yes, many of these species 

were moved in the years before the case 

became popular, but the pace of introductions 

increased dramatically with its use. Needless to 

say, the number of invasive species all over the 

world also rose accordingly. As Keogh notes, 

the Wardian case didn’t just move plants, it 

moved ecosystems, since soil contains many 

seeds, including those of weeds, along with 

fungi and insects—these could all cause 

problems in new environments. By the early 



 century, such problems were leading to 

control of shipments. Fewer cases were used 

and those that were had to be sanitized after 

each trip; eventually each case was only used 

once. Air travel made plant shipments much 

faster, and so containers fit for long-term 

travel were no longer needed.
Keogh writes that when he began his project, 

he attempted to find old Wardian cases at 

botanic gardens around the world. He was 

surprised at how difficult it was to ferret them 

out, and his hunt only turned up 15 of them, 

with one, of course, at Kew. By the time his 

research was completed, he realized that this 

dearth was probably because most of the cases 

had been destroyed to prevent contagion. It 

is ironic that, reminiscent of their first use in 

breeding insects, the last shipments were of 

insects rather than plants, in particular insects 

like lady bugs used to fight invasive pests. 
In addition to transportation, Wardian cases 

were 19th-century display pieces. Glass cases, 

often edged in metal, held orchids and ferns, 

two extremely popular plant groups at the time 

and two that required controlled conditions. 

Some of these containers fit on tabletops, 

others were larger and more elaborate, and 

they returned in the 20th century in the form 

of terrariums that were a 1970s fad. What the 

Wardian case in all its manifestations indicates 

is how thirsty humans are for contact with 

plants in their infinite variety.


Watt, A. 2017. Robert Fortune: A Plant Hunter 

in the Orient. Kew Publishing, Kew, UK.
—Maura C. Flannery, Professor Emerita, St. 

John’s University, NY; Research Associate, A.C. 

Moore Herbarium, University of South Caro-

lina, Columbia, USA

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PSB 67 (3) 2021


Will Purdom: Agitator, 

Plant-hunter, Forester

Francois Gordon

2021. ISBN: 978-1-910877-37-1

Hardcover, US$26.00; 252 pp.

Royal Botanic Garden Edin-

burgh, Edinburgh, SCT

Francois Gordon’s biography 

of British botanist William “Will” Purdom 

(1880-1921) is an enjoyable tale which evokes 

the mythos of a classic hero’s journey. The 

hero’s journey, describes Joseph Campbell, is 

transformative: “We have not even to risk the 

adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have 

gone before us … And where we had thought 

to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. And 

where we had thought to travel outward, we 

shall come to the center of our own existence” 

(Moyers, 1988).
The book is an expertly researched tapestry 

of British and American horticultural history, 

the tumultuous development story of modern 

China, and botanical adventure. His curiosity 

piqued by an article and photograph, Gordon 

initially concluded that not enough was 

known about Will to warrant a full biography. 

Several years later, his search of the archives of 

the Royal Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh and 

Kew, the Arnold Arboretum, and the Royal 

Horticultural Society convinced him that 

not only could Will’s story be told, but that 

its telling would enhance our understanding 

of the sociopolitical context that shaped and 

ultimately obscured his legacy. Gordon says, “I 

hope to put the record straight concerning the 

achievements of a man who by sheer ability 

and determination overcame the formidable 

obstacles which society set in his path and who 

left the world a better place for his passage.” 
The book is a chronological account of 

Will’s short life, focused on his professional 

accomplishments but including enough 

personal detail to paint a convincing 

psychological portrait. By collating scattered 

evidence such as correspondence, magazine 

articles, photographs, and nursery ledgers, 

Gordon reconstructs Will’s timeline and sheds 

light on his obscure decision-making process. 

Will was the third of seven children born to an 

estate gardener in Ambleside and a member of 

the first generation to benefit from a contested 

decision to provide free public education. He 

pursued botanical study early, and, at age 22, 

gained admittance to a prestigious two-year 

program at Kew Gardens designed to train 

gardeners for mid-level positions throughout 

the British empire. Will was an exceptionally 

talented arboriculturist and quickly rose to the 

highest position available to students. However, 

his involvement in seeking fair compensation 

for Kew laborers deeply embroiled him in the 

trade union movement, a role that impacted 

the remainder of his career.
The subtitle of the book describes three 

professional phases. Will’s success as a 

political “agitator” caused him to misperceive 

the once-in-a-lifetime nature of an offer to 

step into the Asistant Superintendent position 

at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum, and he was 

never able to regain the planned career track 

for a Kew-trained gardener. Here, Gordon 

introduces a tension that he found at the 

heart of Will’s life: the devastating mismatch 

between the botanist’s uncommon talents and 

drive and the career options actually available 

to him. Luckily, Will was soon recruited as a 

plant-hunter; he accepted a two-year contract 

offered by the Arnold Arboretum and British 

horticultural “titan” James Veitch & Sons “to 

investigate botanically unexplored territory” 

in northwest China and return with seeds and 


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PSB 67 (3) 2021


The remainder of the book primarily details 

Will’s time in Shansi, Shensi, and Kansu 

Provinces: as a plant-hunter from 1909 to 1912 

and as a guide and companion for alpine plant 

expert Reginald Farrer from 1914 to 1915. 

Gordon’s writing is compelling. We learn that 

China was in the throes of modernization, 

and frequent uprisings by provincial warlords 

made travel there extremely dangerous. 

Yet Will moved easily between the British 

expatriate community and rural Chinese by 

quickly learning Mandarin, hiring local guides, 

and befriending everyone he met. Although 

his travels were colored by difficulty and 

privation, he rarely mentioned these aspects 

to his employers. Photographs, taken with a 

Sanderson glass-plate camera (54 are included 

in the book), show intriguing landscapes, 

smiling laborers, and Will surrounded by local 

leaders and notable members of the British 

In spite of collecting 891 specimens 

representing 374 species, several new to the 

West, and producing dozens of photographs, 

Will did not receive a warm reception when 

he returned to Britain in 1912. Gordon 

attributes this to several factors. Will was 

compared to another botanist, Ernest Wilson, 

a charismatic gentleman-explorer able to 

attract expedition funding and notorious for 

over-collecting immense amounts of material. 

Wilson collected in one of China’s biodiversity 

hotspots, while Will had been sent to a low-

diversity and highly deforested region.  Also, 

Will’s background, as a member of the landless 

class and an activist, might have predisposed 

his employers to consider him unworthy of 

career advancement. After two years seeking 

suitable employment and living with family, 

Will received an offer to accompany Farrer 

to northwest China. Gordon suggests that the 

memory of his liberation from rigid social 

constraints while in China and the realization 

that he might never attain the career to which 

he aspired by staying in Britain motivated him 

to seize the opportunity. In true hero fashion, 

Will left his homeland to seek his rightful 

I will not spoil your reading of this 

grand adventure by describing the final 

transformation. Readers will find that Gordon 

has carefully planted seeds to suggest that 

Will himself was cultivating a strategy to 

attain in China the mature position that 

he was denied elsewhere. For example, the 

appendices contain two reports written by 

Will on “the afforestation question in China.” 

As Divisional Director of the Chinese Forestry 

Service from 1916 until his death in 1921, 

Will implemented a visionary and sustainable 

forestry program that both eased China’s path 

to modernization and allowed him to exercise 

his capacity for leadership. Francois Gordon’s 

first book is a well-written and inspiring 

tale of heroic proportions. He succeeds in 

“put[ting] the record straight,” conveying the 

inseparability between Will and his times, 

and uncovering evidence to explain the near 

erasure of Will’s story despite several species 

and a Forest Park in China bearing his name. 

I highly recommend Will Purdom to anyone 

seeking a glimpse of the oft-hidden dimension 

of botanical exploration.


Moyers, Bill. 1988. “Episode 1: Joseph Camp-

bell and The Power of Myth - The Hero’s Ad-

venture.” Website:



ture-audio/ [accessed 15 August 2021].
—Andrea G. Kornbluh, Member, Botanical 

Society of America

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Plant Science Bulletin

The Botanical Society of 

America is a membership soci-

ety whose mission  is to: pro-

mote botany, the field of basic 

science dealing with the study 

& inquiry into the form, func-

tion, development, diversity, 

reproduction, evolution, & uses 

of plants & their interactions 

within the biosphere.

ISSN 0032-0919 

Published 3 times a year by 

Botanical Society of America, Inc. 

4475 Castleman Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63166-0299

Periodicals postage is paid at 

St. Louis, MO & additional 

mailing offices. 


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Plant Science Bulletin

                                                                                   Fall 2021 Volume 67 Number 3

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