Leaves are intriguing—with all their shapes, colors, textures, and their incredible ability to harness the energy of the sun. But when you come to realize that there is a whole world living within them, you can’t help but be amazed.
Plant Science & Conservation
Plants give us some amazing gifts: food, shelter, many medicines, even the air we breathe. And they do the same for the world’s wildlife. Indeed, all life depends on plants.
What happens if spring wildflowers open up too early—or too late? How does the timing of flowering synchronize with native bees and other pollinators?
These are just some of the questions I’m studying as a master’s of science candidate in the Plant Biology and Conservation graduate program run by Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Today, on International Women’s Day, the Chicago Botanic Garden celebrates women in science at our institution and around the world. At the Garden, 20 of our 33 scientific staff members are women and, in our graduate program in plant biology and conservation with Northwestern University, 62 percent of the students are female.
Persistence can be a good trait for prairie plants. Take this tale of the return of the Hill’s thistle (Cirsium hillii) to the Dixon Prairie at the Chicago Botanic Garden.I’m the assistant ecologist for the natural areas at the Garden. While managing some tall vegetation on the gravel hill of the Dixon Prairie in summer 2016, I noticed something I have not seen in a while. It was a thistle!
Fast and graceful, hummingbirds flit from flower to flower—but which ones and why? A Chicago Botanic Garden scientist and his collaborators recently made some unexpected findings on the subject.It’s a common perception that plants are perfectly matched to their pollinators and that each pollinator has a specific flower type that they are attracted to. For hummingbirds, many gardeners and scientists alike have long assumed their flower type to be one that is strikingly red, tubular, and scentless.
Have you ever noticed the first crocuses poking out of the snow or the brilliant, changing colors of fall leaves? If so, we need your help with the critical work of studying how plants are affected by a changing climate.
The plants you see from your train seat on the Metra Union Pacific North line may help conservation scientists learn about how urban areas impact native bees.
“The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades—these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.” —Anonymous lines found on an old tombstone in Cumberland, England"While life lasts." This can be a very brief moment in time for a spring ephemeral. In that narrow window that exists between thawing ground and the leafing out of the tree canopy, spring ephemerals—those woodland wildflowers that emerge, then quickly go dormant—live their life.
A living museum presents special challenges to its curators.At the Chicago Botanic Garden, we not only acquire and display our collections, but we must also keep them alive and healthy. As curator of the Garden’s collection of woody plants, I’m responsible for the welfare of more than 13,000 trees. Disease, infestations, and extreme weather events are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night.