Missouri Botanical Garden | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden's Stephen and Peter Sachs museum.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Visitors at the Missouri Botanical Garden are likely familiar with a historic building on the eastern portion of the grounds, where an obelisk stands outside with the words “In honour of American science.”

When philanthropist Henry Shaw founded the garden in 1859, the building served as its first scientific research facility. It contained a library and an herbarium that housed 62,000 specimens. Today, the garden’s herbarium has more than 7 million specimens, one of the largest botanical collections in the world.

A rare plant called Dracaena umbraculifera lives in northeastern Madagascar.
Missouri Botanical Garden

DNA technology has helped scientists discover a species of plant in Madagascar that’s long been classified as extinct.

The Missouri Botanical Garden reported Monday in the journal Oryx that researchers found a few populations of the Dracaena umbraculifera. It’s classified as extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, but there are specimens living in botanical gardens around the world. Identifying the plant, however, can be tricky because it can only be truly identified by its flowers. It has not flowered in any botanical garden.

Missouri Botanical Garden researcher Ashley Glenn learning to cook in Bosnia from a homemaker named Dunja.
Ashley Glenn | Missouri Botanical Garden

On a recent Saturday, four middle-aged Bosnian women bustled in a warmly lit kitchen at Fontbonne University. Bags of flour and sugar, metal mixing bowls and trays of flaky pastries filled, called pitas, were spread across an island. The air smelled strongly of bread, butter and cheese.

Ashley Glenn, a botanist at the Missouri Botanical Garden, stood next to the women, providing commentary about the food for an audience of about two dozen people. Glenn has spent the last year and a half interviewing more than 100 Bosnians in St. Louis and in Bosnia about their cuisine and food rituals.

A prairie that contains the common big bluestem grass.
Provided by Kansas State University

Prairies in Missouri and southern Illinois could look shorter by the end of the century, according to a study from the Missouri Botanical Garden and Kansas State University. 

Researchers reported in the journal Global Change Ecology that tall varieties of the big bluestem grass that covers much of Midwestern prairies could be taken over by shorter forms of the plant over the next several decades. That's because climate change could reduce rainfall in many parts of the region, leading to drier conditions.

On Wednesday's St. Louis on the Air, we'll discuss spring and summer gardening tips and tricks.
Victor Camilo | Flickr

Ah, finally, beautiful Missouri spring weather. Should last about five days, right? Let's use that time to get up to snuff on best gardening practices for the spring and summer.

On Wednesday's St. Louis on the Air, experts from the Missouri Botanical Garden joined the program to answer listener questions and discuss successful techniques for home gardening. Jennifer Smock, the supervisor of the Kemper Center for Home Gardening, and Glenn Kopp, the garden's horticultural information manager joined the program.

Craig Mitchell Smith adjusts a glass flower on one of his larger pieces inside the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden. (May 8, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Botanical Garden has been growing something new this week that doesn’t require water or fertilizer.

A display opening Saturday will fill the garden’s Climatron with glass sculpture. ‘Garden of Glass’ consists of 30 designs featuring flowers, butterflies and free-form pieces by artist Craig Mitchell Smith.

Dipstick the goat chomps away on honeysuckle at Willoughby Heritage Farm in Collinsville. April 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

“What can we do about the massive spread of bush honeysuckle? It spreads greatly and destroys ground-level wildflowers.”

That was the question the Rev. James Brobst of Belleville recently put to Curious Louis.

Asha Paudel

Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election has put many environmentalists and scientists on edge about U.S. commitments to fight climate change, since the president-elect has previously called climate change a "hoax" and vowed to "cancel" the Paris climate agreement.

Among the nervous scientists is Missouri Botanical Garden ethnobotanist Jan Salick, who has studied the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples since the early 2000s. Earlier this month, Salick attended the United Nations annual climate change meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. 

She spoke to St. Louis Public Radio's Eli Chen about her research and the challenges scientists face in the current political climate. Here is the conversation:

The endangered running buffalo clover.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Outdoor activities like hiking and camping can help people appreciate nature and encourage public support for conservation, but a new study finds that such recreation can also be harmful to the environment. 

In the most comprehensive survey of threats to rare plants conducted in 20 years, researchers from the Missouri Botanical Garden and the University of Missouri-St. Louis analyzed data on threats to nearly 3,000 rare plants in the United States. As scientists report in the journal Biological Conservation, they discovered that outdoor recreation was the most common threat to plants, above residential development and agriculture.

Provided by The Land Institute

Story updated at 1:18 p.m. Oct. 18 | Originally posted at 7:45 p.m. Oct. 11

Some scientists dream of a future in which people can add sorghum, intermediate wheatgrass and other currently wild perennial plants to their diet.

In St. Louis, researchers at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Saint Louis University are developing a list of wild perennials, which live for many years, to recommend for domestication. Researchers say such plants have the potential to make agriculture more sustainable and feed a growing human population.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh was joined by Dr. Peter Raven, the former, longtime president of Missouri Botanical Garden, to discuss environmental issues. Raven recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

Even in his retirement, Raven is staying busy with his work on the board of the National Geographic Society and writing his biography. He is still deeply immersed in the challenges facing the planet today.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

With early March temperatures already in the 60s and 70s, it is time to think about dragging out those pruning shears, pots and gathering mulch. It is spring gardening season! “St. Louis on the Air” gathered two horticulture experts to discuss spring planting and gardening.

June Hutson, a horticulturist, consultant and designer for the Kemper Center for Home Gardening at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Chip Tynan, the garden’s manager of the horticulture answer service, joined Don Marsh to answer your questions.

Richard Reilly

If you took a drive this fall in Old North, along Delmar near Union, or in Dutchtown near Virginia and Liberty streets, you’ve probably seen vast fields of sunflowers waving at you as you pass by. Who is behind these projects to brighten up vacant lots across St. Louis?

Zoo Museum District lowers tax rate just a bit in coming year

Sep 28, 2015
Kali greets his visitors.
File photo I Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Update: This article has been updated to include a State Auditor's approved recoupment of $.0001 for each of the Zoo Museum District institutions.

The Zoo Museum District board is lowering tax rates for the coming year. This will amount to St. Louisans paying a fraction of a cent less per one hundred dollars of taxable property.

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants, industrial activities, and cars contributes to asthma and other health problems in the St. Louis area.
Syracuse University News Services

In December, government representatives from all over the world will meet in Paris for another conference on climate change aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing rising global temperatures.

In advance of that meeting, some scientists and environmental leaders are gathering at Washington University to discuss one particular consequence of climate change: widespread species extinctions.

Images from zoo museum district entities
File photos and Wikipedia

The debate over charging nonresidents of St. Louis and St. Louis County for admission to the various free Zoo-Museum District institutions was reignited in St. Louis this month. “A small entrance fee of, say, $8 for non-city, non-county people would be fair and would help institutions terrifically,” said Ben Uchitelle, the former chairman of the board of the Zoo-Museum District.

Peter Raven at work in China
Provided by the Missouri Botanical Garden

Director Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Peter Raven, is one of the minds behind the latest papal letter from Pope Francis. He issued the sweeping encyclical Thursday that calls for immediate societal changes to preserve the environment.  

Jean Ponzi (left) and Richard Reilly (right), managers of EarthWays Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Chances are, you’ve heard the popular term “go green” at some point, indicating efforts to promote more sustainable methods of living. With campaigns to promote “going green,” some people are seeking out more ways to conserve energy ― at home ― and be a little friendlier to the Earth.

On Thursday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh talked with Jean Ponzi and Richard Reilly, managers of EarthWays Center, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden about the various ways to lead more energy efficient lives.

Local gardening hacks help green St. Louis region

May 26, 2015
One demonstration garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden gives city-dwellers inspiration for plants that do well in small lots.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Whether your garden needs a little TLC or needs to be planted in the first place, the St. Louis area has some unique gardening hacks to help even the brownest thumb among us.

With resources like the following at the tips of your gardening gloves, St. Louis makes it easy to get your garden on.

What to plant

On May 23, 2015, the Chinese Lantern Festival returned to the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time since 2012.
Jamie Heuer

On Saturday night, the Chinese Lantern Festival's return to the Missouri Botanical Garden came amid a sellout crowd of 4,500 people.

It’s extremely uncommon to see an authentic Chinese lantern festival outside of Asia. The garden staged its first lantern festival in 2012 as a onetime event and celebration of the completion of Flora of China, a 25-year project documenting China’s wild plants that was completed in cooperation with gardens in China.

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