BBC Plants Podcast | From Roots To Riches

BBC Plants Roots To RichesThe BBC has a great range of Podcasts and one of their latest, entitled From Roots To Riches is no exception. Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and presented by Kew's Professor Kathy Willis, the series of 15 minute talks about various aspects of humanity's relationship with plants.

It is a wonderful series and was actually recorded in part, at the Kew Gardens and surrounding Herbarium so you can almost hear the plants around Professor Willis as she talks and interviews other scientists and plantsmen. Certainly their enthusiasm for plants shows through.

This series is a must listen :-)

There are 25 episodes so far, with topics ranging from Botanica taxonomy (squee!) to plant diversity, crop resilience, mapping etc. Check out Plants From Roots to Riches on the BBC website or iTunes.

Here is the full list of episodes:

  • The Great Providers 22 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines how we are building future resilience into our modern crops.

  • Green and Pleasant Lands 21 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis assesses the cultural value of ecosystems for our health and well-being.

  • Capture and Drawdown 20 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines new insights into plants as regulators of our planet.

  • Dynamic Rainforest 19 Aug 14

    How DNA analysis is providing a new window into the evolution of the tropical rainforest.

  • A Blooming Tree of Life 18 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis explores DNA fingerprinting and a new tree of life for plants.

  • A Useful Weed 15 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis explores the legacy behind the mapping of the first plant genome.

  • Capsules of Life 14 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis uncovers the role seedbanking plays in conserving worldwide plant diversity.

  • An Ill Wind 13 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis explores the arboreal benefits that emerged from the great storm of 1987.

  • Unlocking biodiversity 12 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis probes the tools that are proving essential to map the world's flora.

  • Signals of Growth 11 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines the impact of isolating and understanding the action of plant hormones that was to transform global crop production.

  • Botanical Medicine 08 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines the legacy of early encounters with alkaloids from plants.

  • Hunt for Diversity 07 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis explores Nikolai Vavilov's pioneering search for unused varieties of crops.

  • Battling Bark and Beetle 06 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines the origin and impact of Dutch elm disease across Europe.

  • Multiple Genes 05 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines the mystery of a plant's ability to exist in multiple forms.

  • Towards the Light 04 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis explores the harnessing of plants' ability to photosynthesise their own food.

  • Patterns from Crossed Peas 01 Aug 14

    Prof Kathy Willis explores the discovery of new laws to create plant hybrids.

  • Plant Invaders 31 Jul 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines how one man's flower was turning into another man's weed.

  • Orchidmania 30 Jul 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines Charles Darwin's use of orchids as a scientific tool.

  • Tapping into Rubber 29 Jul 14

    Prof Kathy Willis explores the smuggling of rubber seeds from South America.

  • Taming the Exotic 28 Jul 14

    Prof Kathy Willis examines the Victorian race to flower the Amazonian water lily.

  • Lumping and Splitting 25 Jul 14

    Joseph Hooker and the new laws of what grows where and why.

  • Blight on the Landscape 24 Jul 14

    Fungi and the birth of plant pathology.

  • Pressed Plants and Possibilities 23 Jul 14

    Historical patterns from preserved plants.

  • Plants to Shape Society 22 Jul 14

    The botanical impresario Joseph Banks' vision to build Britain's colonies through plants.

  • A Rose by any other Name 21 Jul 14

    Carl Linnaeus and a revolutionary grammar for plants.

Plants – From Roots to Riches

Professor Kathy WillisA brief history of botanical science and our changing relationship with plants, drawing upon the archive collections and scientific research at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew.

Presented by Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kathy Willis Selected Publications

  • Cole, L.E.S., Bhagwat, S. A. & Willis, K.J. (2014). Recovery and resilience of tropical forests after disturbance.Nature Communications 5: 3906. Available online
  • Froyd, C.A., Cofey, E.E.D, van der Knapp, W.O., van Leeuwen, J.F.N., Tye, A. & Willis, K.J. (2014). The ecological consequences of megafaunal loss: giant tortoises and wetland biodiversity. Ecology Letters 17(2): 144-154. Available online
  • Tovar, C., Breman, E., Brncic, T., Harris, D.J., Bailey, R. & Willis, K.J. (2014). Influence of 1100 years of burning on the central African rainforest. Ecography:  DOI: 10.1111/ecog.00697. Available online
  • Willis, K.J., Bennett, K.D., Burrough, S.L., Macias-Fauria, M. & Tovar, C. (2013). Determining the response of African biota to climate change: using the past to model the future. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 368(1625):20120491. Available online
  • Willis, K.J., Jeffers, E.S., Tovar, C., Long, P., Caithness, N., Smith, M.G.D., Hagemann, R., Collin-Hansen, C. & Weissenberger, J. (2012). Determining the ecological value of landscapes beyond protected areas. Biological Conservation 147(1): 3-12. Available online

Plants From Roots to Riches can be downloaded at the BBC website or on iTunes. Thanks to Sophie Munn at Homage To The Seed for the link.