Montana Public Radio

plants

Super-Morph: Botanist In The Produce Aisle

Dec 8, 2019
woman in Grand Union supermarket produce aisle
PD

As the temperature drops and the leaves turn brown and drop as well, it gets hard for a botanist in Montana to find anything interesting to study outside. At this time of year I go on field trips to the supermarket. In the produce section the leaves are still green, and you can always find some germinating alfalfa and mung beans. There’s a lot to be learned among the aisles, but there’s a distressing amount of misinformation as well.

A Naturalist's Perspective On Winter Weeds

Dec 1, 2019
Winter Weeds
Flickr user Rachel Kramer (CC-BY-2)

As you travel about Montana’s fall and winter landscape, you’re bound to see the brown and gray patchwork of roadside weeds. We tend to classify weeds as those nuisance plants that grow where they are not wanted. It’s a rather subjective definition. Often the “weedness” of a plant rests in the eyes of the beholder. One person’s weed may be another person’s wildflower. To me these remnants of summer look like survivors the morning after a great party.

'Field Notes:' Cushion Plants Keep It Short

Apr 29, 2018
U.S.F.S. Northern Region

This spring I went out for a walk on one of the bald hills on the outskirts of Missoula, just east of Hellgate Canyon. I walked the crest of the hill and saw how the strong wind on these exposed ridges blows the soil away, leaving a gravelly surface. The plants growing on this stony pavement are different from the typical grassland species on the slopes.

Cattail: Plant Of A Thousand Uses

Apr 2, 2018
Cattails
(PD)

Cat-o-nine-tails, reedmace, bulrush, water torch, candlewick, punk, and corn dog grass. The cattail has almost as many names as it has uses. Humans have taken their cue from the animals over the centuries and continue to benefit from cattail’s nutritional, medicinal, and material uses.

The Story Behind Sagebrush, An Icon Of The West

May 1, 2017
Big sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata)
Matt Lavin (CC-BY-SA-2)

Break off a sprig of big sagebrush and inhale its aroma: the fragrance is clean, sharp and as cool as the smell of winter. Call it camphor blended with a touch of Christmas. Crush a few leaves between your fingertips and the scent is suddenly somewhat bitter and more pungent. Let the sprig dry for a few hours and you’ll find that the fragrance gradually loses its bite, softening to crisp evergreen with a hint of juicy berry.

Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)
Matt Lavin (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The story of noxious weeds is the classic love story gone wrong. You see that beautiful so-and-so across the room, you hang out for a while, decide to move in together. But then you realize they’ve taken over your home, replaced your favorite stuff with useless junk and now you can’t seem to break up.

The Sundew's Lure Disguises A Deadly Trap

Mar 20, 2015
Flickr user, Adriaan Westra

In the poor soil of fens, marshes and bogs, sundews have evolved to be carnivorous.

Franz Eugen Köhler

The Efik people of the region that is now Nigeria used to force people accused of crimes to suffer a trial by ordeal: they'd be fed calabar beans, a known poison. If the accused died, they were judged guilty. If they lived, they were "proven" innocent. There's some pharmaceutical basis to this. It turns out that the poison of the calabar bean is absorbed in the mouth, where a guilty person might try to hold the beans, to avoid swallowing. For the guileless who swallowed them whole, the emetic properties of the beans might cause them to throw up the beans and escape poisoning.

Amy Cilimburg talks with naturalist and Lolo National Forest Wildlife Interpreter Sue Reel about native bees, the plants they need, why we need pollinators, and the colorful guides Sue developed.

Amy also speaks with Amy Seaman – Amy's colleague at Montana Audubon – about cool birds.

Palm Oil

Aug 3, 2014
Achmad Rabin Taim

Greg and Jon take on palm oil, whose associations with environmental destruction and human-rights abuses are increasing as rapidly as its ubiquity in manufactured foods.  Even as a substitute for trans-fats, when consumed in large amounts, palm oil isn't particularly healthy, given that it's saturated. The Food Guys' advice?

Pages