Ethnobotany and the Study of Plants, Cultures and Communities

Multicolored kernels on heritage corn

Imagine you lived exactly where you live today–but five hundred years ago. If you’re hungry, you can’t go to the grocery store. If you’re tired, you no longer have a foam mattress. If you have a headache, you can’t pop an Advil. Yet the people of the past ate, slept and treated their ailments just as we do. How? They used plants.

Citizen Science Leads to Discovery of New Wasp Species on Garden Grounds

Many Fort Worth and area residents have explored the Garden for years. They may think they know every corner, every path and every tree. In fact, our own Garden holds many surprises. For example, a new species of gall wasp was recently identified on Garden grounds. The story of the wasp’s discovery has much to tell us about the importance of citizen science, the diversity of life around us and the many mysteries waiting to be uncovered in our own backyards.

What Is This Thing? Discovering Stemless Evening Primrose.

Floral illustration from 1829 of stemless evening primrose

It’s one thing to identify a flower when it’s in bloom. Petals, stamens and other features provide all sorts of information to botanists to narrow down the plant’s name and history. Starting with a seed pod is a different matter – especially when the pod is hard, dried, and an indistinct brown. When friends Carol and Cynthia both found particularly tough, dried pods that superficially resemble pine cones, they were baffled. But it takes more than a dried-up pod to baffle the botanists at the BRIT Herbarium. They were able to let Cynthia and Carol know that they had found the dried fruits of Oenothera triloba, or stemless evening primrose.

Protect Native Plants to Protect the Planet

Field of deep blue bluebonnets against a green field

April is National Native Plant month and a great opportunity to talk about the importance of native plants to the health of our planet. Native plants help preserve local wildlife, reduce water use and protect and restore soil, but these plants are threatened by invasive species, habitat loss and water quality issues. What is FWBG | BRIT doing to protect these plants? And how can you help?

Which Came First, the Butterfly or the Flower? The Answer: Both!

Two pale butterflies gather nectar from yellow flowers

If you’ve ever taken a high school biology course, you may have learned that pollinators such as butterflies and bees evolved alongside flowers for their mutual benefit. The result of generations upon generations of plants and pollinators evolving side by side are what botanists have called “pollination syndromes.” These are fascinating systems that have much to teach us about the natural world—but recent research reveals they may not be as simple as botanists once thought.

The Science of Pollination and the Role of Butterflies

Orange and black butterflies feed from white flowers

People of all ages watch the brilliantly colored insects with awe and wonder at Butterflies in the Garden. What many don’t realize is that while we value butterflies for their beauty, they also play an important role in the ecosystem. Along with bees, birds and various other insects, they help flowering plants reproduce.

What Is This Thing? Smooth Ruellia and Why Some Plants Preferred Closed Marriages

Ruella strepens (smooth ruellia)

Botanists and horticulturists love a challenge. That’s why this year we’re introducing a new feature in the newsletter: What Is This Thing? This month, Martha L. of Fort Worth asks us to identify a plant with small flowers than never open. The answer tells a fascinating story about the reproductive strategies of plants–and why some prefer closed to open marriages.