Plants | St. Louis Public Radio


Daria McKevley is the supervisor of home gardening information and outreach at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Adam Smith is the assistant scientist at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development.

With the United Nations and New York City hosting Climate Week 2019 this week, climate change has been on the minds of many. But what does climate change mean here in the Midwest? The Missouri Botanical Garden isn’t just asking that question. Its scientists are also developing answers by closely surveying Midwestern plant life.

Joining host Sarah Fenske on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air to explain climate change’s effects on the region were Missouri Botanical Garden's assistant scientist, Adam Smith, and Daria McKevley, a supervisor of home gardening information and outreach at the center. 

Danforth Center researcher Malia Gehan next to a growth chamber containing plants in September 2019.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Scientists at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Washington University are studying the long-term consequences of exposing plants to high levels of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are the highest they’ve been in 800,000 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists expect levels of the greenhouse gas to continue to rise and worsen the effects of climate change over the next several decades if people do not reduce their use of fossil fuels and other natural resources.

Susan Benigas (at left) and Ghaida Awwad talked about what prompted their interest in using food as medicine on Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

There is a movement growing among health advocates to better understand how more nutritious food can help combat chronic illnesses and pharmaceutical drug dependency. Susan Benigas of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and The Plantrician Project and local nutritionist Ghaida Awwad of Nature’s Clinic, based in O’Fallon, Missouri, are among those advocates.

Guest host Ruth Ezell of the Nine Network talked with Benigas and Awwad about what prompted their interest in using food as medicine on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Left, Caryn Dugan and Dr. James Loomis discussed plant-based diets with host Don Marsh on Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

While in 2014 just 1 percent of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan, in 2017, about 6 percent made that claim. With a 600 percent increase in just three years, and veg-friendly options becoming more commonplace in St. Louis, it is safe to say that this diet trend is not just a fad – it’s here to stay.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says honeysuckle can affect lake and stream banks, marsh, fens, sedge meadow, wet and dry prairies, savannas, floodplain and upland forests and woodlands.
Missouri Department of Conservation

This week, in the hallowed halls of the historic Old Courthouse in St. Louis, a local woodworker sued a shrub.

In an educational mock trial held Wednesday, a jury heard the case against invasive bush honeysuckle. The plant was first introduced to the U.S. from eastern Asia in the 1700s and has since spread to at least 31 states, including Missouri.

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.

Americans buy more than 30 million poinsettias every year.
TANAKA Juuyoh | Flickr Creative Commons

Poinsettias are sold by the millions every year, almost all of them between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As popular as these holiday flowers are, there still may be a few things about them that could surprise you. Here are five fun facts about poinsettias we wanted to share.

Peter Wyse Jackson
Provided by the Missouri Botanical Garden | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 28, 2013: In many parts of the world, a web of gardens work to connect the past with the present, and the present with the future.

They grow in India and Israel, in Cambodia, Peru and the Bronx, in Costa Rica, Madagascar, Colombia and Sri Lanka, in South Dakota, in St. Louis, and now, for the first time, into Europe through France.

A Berry So Shiny, It's Irresistible (And Inedible)

Sep 11, 2012

That fake fruit in the wooden bowls that hotels love to decorate their lobbies with never looks quite right. No, apparently it takes nature to make a fake that looks even better than the real thing.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 27, 2012 - When Kathryn Lee Johnson, a Catholic, married David Earl Kennedy, a Methodist, in 1972, theirs was the first ecumenical wedding in Lincoln, Neb. It was the talk of the town. The wedding even drew “a little bit of press.”

It was generally believed at the time, Kathryn Kennedy said, that marriage outside of one’s faith was “fraught with peril.” 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 24, 2012 - If, amid this summer’s sweltering heat and parching lack of rain, there was one ironic thought that might sum up the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s latest grant award, Dr. Tom Brutnell may have found it.

“Good timing,” quipped Brutnell, director of the center’s Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 18, 2012 - Visitors to Missouri Botanical Garden these days are greeted by an enormous yellow dragon lantern that stretches down the entrance to Ridgway Visitor Center. It is easy to deduce that this creature is part of the upcoming Lantern Festival to be launched Memorial Day weekend.Thoughtful and/or frequent visitors may remember that this year’s orchid show had a Chinese theme, and that the Brookings Interpretive Center features an interactive exhibit on Chinese culture. Why the emphasis on China?

(Missouri Botanical Garden)

The Missouri Botanical Garden has announced plans to help build an online database of the world’s plants.

Working with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and the New York Botanical Garden, the Missouri Botanical Garden will compile information on as many as 400,000 land plant species, with the goal of having all the data available online by 2020.

Friday is the deadline for U.S.-China trade talks. If they fail and China's 25-percent tariff on soybeans goes into effect, Missouri farmers will feel the impact.
jasonippolito | Flickr

Monsanto today announced progress on nine of its research projects on genetically-engineered crops.

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Monsanto's vice president of biotechnology, Steve Padgette, said several collaborations with the Germany-based BASF Plant Science will be moving forward in 2011.

One list for all the world's plants

Dec 29, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 29, 2010 - Today the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew announce the online publication of The Plant List, the world's first database of all land plant species. The Plant List includes all accepted botanical names and their synonyms, as well as a number of names whose status as accepted or synonym is unresolved in the current literature.

First global plant list available online

Dec 29, 2010

The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London have completed the first comprehensive list of world plant species.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 5, 2009 - When we think of rare and endangered plants, many of us tend to assume they are all in tropical rain forests. Not so. Rare plants from our area -- and indeed all over the United States -- are in danger of disappearing forever.

Sometimes housing developments destroy a plot of plants that grow only on a rocky outcrop called a glade. The white-haired goldenrod grows only under cave-like overhangs in Kentucky and Tennessee. Rock-climbers and hikers tend to trample it. Climate change may already be having a profound effect on plant survival.

On Science: How tall can a tree get?

Aug 12, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 12, 2009 - Plants can grow at surprising rates and for a very long time. Bamboo plants can grow as fast as three feet a day (or 1.5 inches per hour). At that rate, you could almost watch it grow. The oldest living plant is a Bristlecone Pine located in the White Mountains on the California-Nevada border called Methuselah, which has lived to a ripe old age of 4,767 years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 1, 2009 - Gardeners in this area are all too aware that failing to water during our long, hot summers may turn colorful flower beds into studies in brown.  And our vegetable gardens won’t give us much produce without adequate water.

On a global scale, growing enough food to support a projected population of 9 billion by 2050 (currently 6.8 billion) will seemingly require that much more water at a time when weather appears to be increasingly erratic.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 17, 2009 - The Missouri Botanical Garden celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2009 and is now a world center for botanical research. Its programs operate in 37 countries; its herbarium collection contains more than 6 million specimens, and its 150 scientific staff members not only carry out research on a variety of topics, but offer their expertise to institutions ranging from the U.S. National Cancer Institute to parks and conservation areas worldwide.