Plants Are Dope Link Roundup 11/8/19

In brushy terrain where a botanical interloper evades detection by the human eye, count on Dia to sniff it out.

Dia is a spunky Labrador retriever trained to track down a yellow-flowered shrub that’s taking root in New York state parks. She’s one of a new breed of detection dog assisting conservationists in the fight against invasive species.

Dogs help sniff out invasive plants! Dogs are wonderful.


Wendy and Geoffrey Hicks first noticed it in May. A plant that had lived benignly in a pot beside their pool in Cotati for more than 10 years suddenly started acting weird.

The activity was shocking because over the years it had changed little from the barrel-shaped, low-growing, cactus-like plant that Geoffrey brought home from his mother’s San Luis Obispo yard after she died a decade ago. But this spring, a stalk poked out of the middle of it and started growing. And growing. And growing. Every morning it was a few inches taller, like Jack’s magic beanstalk.

I guess some plants grow really big and flower right before they die. Wild!


Photo Credit: Glossier

Lush and surprising, Glossier’s Seattle pop-up is undeniably beautiful. I wish I’d experienced it in person. It’s hard to ignore the soothing effect of plant life, even when it’s being used to sell you a product. Even when it’s intended to encourage you to perform unpaid social media marketing for a brand. On top of that, plants do the work of telegraphing corporate virtue.

More and more companies are using plants at their events and as backdrops.


Coined in 1999 by botanists Elizabeth Schussler and Frank Wandersee, the term ‘plant blindness’ refers to how people tend not to notice plants—and, when they do, to value them far less than animals. Studies show that people in contemporary societies better remember images of animals than plants; even nature lovers who know hundreds of animal species can often identify just a few trees or flowers, much less mosses or ferns.

Interesting. “Plant blindness” can lead to people ignoring illegal plant-trading and “a decline in botanical research and a general inattention to plant conservation.”


In recent years, study after study has found that living in neighborhoods with abundant green space is linked to positive health outcomes. These include better heart health, stronger cognitive development, and greater overall longevity. No wonder these areas are also linked to lower levels of Medicare spending.

But when it come to promoting human health, not all green spaces are created equal. That’s the conclusion of new Australian research, which finds higher levels of wellness in areas marked by one particular manifestation of the natural world: leafy trees.

As I always suspected: trees are awesome.


Photo Credit: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

You may have heard that playing music can help your garden grow, but have you ever considered listening to the plants themselves? That’s what sound artist Adrienne Adar is encouraging visitors to do at her exhibition at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which allows humans to hear the subtle, normally inaudible sounds of plant life.

The Plant Sounds and Vibrations exhibit sounds like it was pretty cool. It ended, but who knows, but it will travel eventually? You could listen to the sound of corn growing there.


The world is literally a greener place than it was 20 years ago, and data from NASA satellites has revealed a counterintuitive source for much of this new foliage: China and India. A new study shows that the two emerging countries with the world’s biggest populations are leading the increase in greening on land. The effect stems mainly from ambitious tree planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries.

How exciting is this! I had no clue the planet has actually become greener in recent years.


“I wonder about the trees,” Robert Frost wrote. Monumental in size, alive but inert, they inhabit a different temporality than ours. Some species’ life spans can be measured in human generations. We wake to find that a tree’s leaves have turned, or register, come spring, its sturdier trunk. But such changes are always perceived after the fact. We’ll never see them unfold, with our own eyes, in human time.

Dendrochronologists study how trees change over time.


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