Botany

Sassafras leaves begin to grow. Both 19th-century Ohio farmer Thomas Mikesell and current Ohio State University ecologist Kellen Calinger-Yoak recorded important details about the plant.

What a 19th-Century Farmer’s Forgotten Notes Reveal About Growing Seasons

The documents provide evidence of climate change's effect on hardwood trees in Ohio

Sarracenia pitcher plants typically live in bogs in the southeastern United States.

Carnivorous Plants May Lure Insects With Specially Tailored Scents

Pitcher plants appear to use different odor cocktails to attract bees, moths, ants and other bugs into their death traps

Researchers use microphones to measure the noises emitted by tomato plants.

Plants Make Noises When Stressed, Study Finds

Scientists detected high-frequency sounds emitted by plants that had been cut or dehydrated

Under the right conditions, researchers say, some crop yields could increase by 50 percent or more.

Is Hacking Photosynthesis the Key to Increasing Crop Yields?

It’s an agricultural moonshot, but scientists hope to make plants like corn, wheat and barley as heat and drought resistant as cactus

With one vast root system, Pando weighs more than 6,600 tons and contains approximately 47,000 genetically identical stems (or branches).

The World's Largest Tree Is Ready for Its Close-Up

Friends of Pando, a nonprofit, is in the process of creating the largest image ever recorded of this single aspen clone in Utah

The underground pitchers of Nepenthes pudica

This New Species of Carnivorous Pitcher Plant Traps Its Prey Underground

Researchers discovered the new specimen in the rainforests of Borneo

Cycads growing in Litchfield National Park in Australia.

Many of These Plants Older Than Dinosaurs Face Extinction

Cycads have changed a great deal since they first appeared around 280 million years ago, and habitat loss and illegal trade are now threats

Left, luthier Reuben Forsland gazes out his studio window. Right, a close-up of the “Legacy” guitar, custom-built by Forsland, commissioned by a son to honor his father.   

Each Guitar Reuben Forsland Makes Tells a Story

The Canadian luthier builds custom instruments from unique materials that deliver impeccable sound

New research shows that mass migration of ancient peoples from the south were essential to bringing maize cultivation to Maya communities in Central America. Scientists previously thought knowledge of farming techniques were shared by word of mouth between neighboring communities. 

New Research

New Study Finds Migrants Brought Maize to the Maya

DNA analysis of skeletal remains in Belize helps piece together how corn cultivation came to thrive in Central America

Eileen McSaveney (left) and Terry Tickhill (right) use a hand augur to drill Lake Vanda, Wright Valley, Antarctica, during the 1969-1970 field season. Water collected during this effort was used to date the lake.

Ten Pioneering Women of Antarctica and the Places Named for Them

These coves, peaks, glaciers and other landmarks honor female explorers and scientists who have contributed to our understanding of the continent

The Venus flytrap Dionaea muscipula is the most sophisticated of the carnivorous plants. Its traps snap shut in a fraction of a second, imprisoning prey in a cage of teeth that line the edges of the trap.

How Carnivorous Plants Evolved

Botanists are beginning to trace the origins of their gruesome appetites

Reserachers descend into a Yucatan sinkhole to examine sacred Maya cacao groves. 

Researchers Now Know Where the Ancient Maya Planted Their Sacred Cacao Groves

Sinkholes across the Yucatan Peninsula provided perfect growing conditions for the plant, used as currency in the Mesoamerican civilization

Researchers counted fewer than 50 individual plants, which all grow in an unprotected area of the forest.

The First Newly Identified Plant Species of 2022 Was Named After Leonardo DiCaprio

Scientists credit the actor with helping save the Ebo Forest—the plant's home–from logging

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Five Places in the United States to See Carnivorous Plants in the Wild

These flesh-eating plants can be found in savage gardens from Oregon to Texas

After four months of growing, the crew harvested the peppers offered feedback on the flavor and spiciness.

Astronauts Celebrate Growing Peppers for the First Time With 'Best Space Tacos Yet'

Fresh produce could improve health on long missions

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Smithsonian Voices

Drop in Greenhouse Gas Caused Global Cooling 34 Million Years Ago

A new study confirms that carbon dioxide plays a significant role in any climate change

André Michaux, a French botanist, was an ambitious explorer whose legacy has largely been forgotten.

The Forgotten French Scientist Who Courted Thomas Jefferson—and Got Pulled Into Scandal

A decade before Lewis and Clark, André Michaux wanted to explore the American continent. Spying for France gave him that chance

On the center plant, poking out from the stem is a bent side stalk, which holds up the arm of the plant with a flower.

Scientists Discover a New Plant Organ

The structure, called a cantil, holds up the flower-bearing arm of the thale cress, a long-studied species

Around 1,200 residents stopped by to touch, photograph, and view the Alameda corpse flower. (Not pictured)

Corpse Flower Steals the Spotlight at Abandoned California Gas Station

A local nursery owner grew the rare botanical wonder and shared the bloom with the community, where they could touch and interact with the plant

Through research on living and preserved plants, botanists are learning more about how flora has responded to climate change over the past centuries.

Smithsonian Voices

Why Plants Are Seeding Climate Studies

The National Museum of Natural History’s herbarium is helping botanists research climate-driven changes in plants, their biology and their abundance

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