Plant Science
An Introduction to Botany

Plant Science - An Introduction to Botany
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24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 The Joy of Botany
Although almost every child knows the difference between an elephant and a giraffe, few people of any age can name the plants they see out their window every single day.…
Episode 2 Plants Are Like People
Although our biology is significantly different than that of plants, scientists are discovering more and more similarities. We share quite a bit of DNA, thrive in moderate temperatures, have a…
Episode 3 Moss Sex and Peat's Engineered Habitat
More than 425 million years ago, a group of plants called bryophytes developed two special adaptations that allowed them to inhabit dry land. Why are these early plants still so…
Episode 4 Fern Spores and the Vascular Conquest of Land
Botanists still struggle to unravel the full evolutionary history of ferns, hardy plants of staggering reproductive and colonization power. With billions of lightweight spores produced by each individual and the…
Episode 5 Roots and Symbiosis with Non-Plants
Photosynthesis might be the "star," but what takes place under the soil is just as imperative for plant survival. In fact, the root is so important that it's the first…
Episode 6 Stems Are More Than Just the In-Between
Learn how the pressure flow hypothesis models the movement of sugars through the plant's phloem and xylem, and what plant structures determine whether the organism will grow in height, girth,…
Episode 7 The Leaf as a Biochemical Factory
Plants "know" when to shed their leaves or grow new ones via the same mechanism that causes the many developmental changes in our own bodies: hormones. Learn about the hormones…
Episode 8 Photosynthesis Everyone Should Understand
Green plants generate their mass - whether the mass of the smallest blade of grass or the tallest tree on Earth - by synthesizing food from carbon dioxide and water…
Episode 9 Days and Years in the Lives of Plants
How do plants "choose" the best time to flower? Do they sense the daylight hours becoming longer in the springtime? Or do they sense the nights becoming shorter? Learn which…
Episode 10 Advent of Seeds: Cycads and Ginkgoes
While spores have continued to provide effective reproduction through the millennia, evolution has led to several successful alternatives. In a little package of embryonic roots, stems, leaves, and nourishment, a…
Episode 11 Why Conifers Are Holiday Plants
Meet the conifers, well-adapted to snow, wind, fire, and low-nutrient soils. Learn how the unique properties of conifers allow them to claim the largest forest on Earth, the oldest living…
Episode 12 Secrets of Flower Power
Flowering plants arrived relatively late in geological time. But once here, they evolved quickly and often displaced many other types of plants. In fact, in terms of species, flowering plants…
Episode 13 The Coevolution of Who Pollinates Whom
Which came first - the pollen or the pollinator? Learn about the special evolutionary relationship between specific flowers and the insects, birds, and mammals that play a necessary role in…
Episode 14 The Many Forms of Fruit: Tomatoes to Peanuts
If you think you know the difference between a fruit, a nut, and a fungus - think again. Learn the real difference between nuts, fruits, and seeds, and why so…
Episode 15 Plant Seeds Get Around
The evolution of the seed was a major advantage for land plants. But unlike gymnosperms, the flowering plants produce a fruit around that seed, aiding in germination, dispersal, or both.…
Episode 16 Water Plants Came from Land
Learn how seagrasses, mangroves, and other aquatic plants evolved to tolerate low light levels, anaerobic and nutrient-poor sediments, and the difficulty of getting CO2 into submerged leaves and stems. They…
Episode 17 Why the Tropics Have So Many Plant Species
From the shade-adapted plants living on the rainforest floor to the epiphytes in the top of the canopy - and the myriad plants and animals in between - tropical regions…
Episode 18 The Complexity of Grasses and Grasslands
The grassland ecosystem - steppe, prairie, savanna, and rangeland - is found on every continent except Antarctica. Estimated to cover almost one-third of the land area of the planet, grasses…
Episode 19 Shrublands of Roses and Wine
Not an herb and not a tree, shrubs' in-between status carries ecological advantages allowing them to grow almost everywhere. Many are fire-adapted, some communicate through volatile organic compounds released by…
Episode 20 The Desert Bonanza of Plant Shapes
Deserts contain the largest variety of plant shapes on earth. Along with these multiple morphological adaptations to a lack of water, desert plants have also developed an alternative pathway to…
Episode 21 How Temperate Trees Change Color and Grow
Trees are a wonderful example of convergent evolution. While many trees are evergreen and others are drought deciduous, temperate trees lose their leaves in the winter because the trade-off of…
Episode 22 Alpine Cold Makes Plants Do Funny Things
Alpine plants face a short growing season, freezing nights almost year-round, extraordinarily high light levels on cloudless days, fierce wind, and severe lack of moisture. Learn how the unique rosette…
Episode 23 Bad Plants Aren't So Bad
About 600 species of plants eat animals. Others are outfitted with poison-injecting hairs you do not want to trigger. And then there are the "everyday" poison oak, ivy, and sumac.…
Episode 24 Modifying the Genes of Plants
Genetically modified organisms are in the news almost every day. They are lauded for solving numerous agricultural problems and reviled for their perceived "Frankenstein" nature. But what is the truth…

Related videos

Plant Seeds Get Around
Episode 15 of Plant Science
The evolution of the seed was a major advantage for land plants. But unlike gymnosperms, the flowering plants produce a fruit around that seed, aiding in germination, dispersal, or both. Learn about the many fascinating ways seeds are dispersed - from animal deposition, to wind and water dispersal, to seed…
Why the Tropics Have So Many Plant Species
Episode 17 of Plant Science
From the shade-adapted plants living on the rainforest floor to the epiphytes in the top of the canopy - and the myriad plants and animals in between - tropical regions are the most diverse ecosystems on land. Learn about the unique ways in which bromeliads, orchids, and lianas, among others,…
The Desert Bonanza of Plant Shapes
Episode 20 of Plant Science
Deserts contain the largest variety of plant shapes on earth. Along with these multiple morphological adaptations to a lack of water, desert plants have also developed an alternative pathway to photosynthesis, opening their stomata at night, storing the CO2, and using it during the day with closed stomata, thereby avoiding…
Plants Are Like People
Episode 2 of Plant Science
Although our biology is significantly different than that of plants, scientists are discovering more and more similarities. We share quite a bit of DNA, thrive in moderate temperatures, have a circadian rhythm of rest and activity, require water for life, and can sense our environment and respond. Some scientists suggest…
Roots and Symbiosis with Non-Plants
Episode 5 of Plant Science
Photosynthesis might be the "star," but what takes place under the soil is just as imperative for plant survival. In fact, the root is so important that it's the first evidence of germination in the seed. Learn how roots physically support the plant, absorb water and minerals, and store carbohydrates,…
Days and Years in the Lives of Plants
Episode 9 of Plant Science
How do plants "choose" the best time to flower? Do they sense the daylight hours becoming longer in the springtime? Or do they sense the nights becoming shorter? Learn which pigments interact with sunlight to serve as chemical clocks for flowering plants and what roles are played by messenger RNA…
Why Conifers Are Holiday Plants
Episode 11 of Plant Science
Meet the conifers, well-adapted to snow, wind, fire, and low-nutrient soils. Learn how the unique properties of conifers allow them to claim the largest forest on Earth, the oldest living tree, and the tallest plant - with a growth rate of up to six feet per year. Conifers are also…
Water Plants Came from Land
Episode 16 of Plant Science
Learn how seagrasses, mangroves, and other aquatic plants evolved to tolerate low light levels, anaerobic and nutrient-poor sediments, and the difficulty of getting CO2 into submerged leaves and stems. They also benefit surrounding ecosystems by keeping excess nutrients from the ocean, trapping river and ocean-floor sediments, and providing habitat and…
Alpine Cold Makes Plants Do Funny Things
Episode 22 of Plant Science
Alpine plants face a short growing season, freezing nights almost year-round, extraordinarily high light levels on cloudless days, fierce wind, and severe lack of moisture. Learn how the unique rosette and cushion morphologies allow alpine plants to thrive in this environment - as well as provide a sheltered place for…
Bad Plants Aren't So Bad
Episode 23 of Plant Science
About 600 species of plants eat animals. Others are outfitted with poison-injecting hairs you do not want to trigger. And then there are the "everyday" poison oak, ivy, and sumac. But the real plants to fear? The invasive species that have taken over millions of acres, to the detriment of…
Modifying the Genes of Plants
Episode 24 of Plant Science
Genetically modified organisms are in the news almost every day. They are lauded for solving numerous agricultural problems and reviled for their perceived "Frankenstein" nature. But what is the truth about GMOs? Learn what scientists have accomplished, what might be possible in the future, and the very real dilemmas we…
The Joy of Botany
Episode 1 of Plant Science
Although almost every child knows the difference between an elephant and a giraffe, few people of any age can name the plants they see out their window every single day. Solve this "plant blindness" by learning about the fascinating lifeforms to whom we owe so much: oxygen, food, medicine, materials…