Crime Pays But Botany Doesn't

Tony Santore

An antidote to the nausea caused by life in modern society via explorations of the cast of plant species composing the "living skin" of Planet Earth.

  • 2 hours 9 minutes
    Pollination Systems & Bird Pollination with Jeff Ollerton
    Jeff Ollerton is a pollination biologist and researcher based out of the EU and currently working in KunMing, Yunnan Province, China. He has written two excellent books - one entitled "Pollinators and Pollination" and another entitled "Birds and Flowers" about birds as pollinators. In this nearly two hour long conversation we talk about a variety of taxa as well as ecological phenomena. I am still kicking myself for forgetting to bring up the topic of the South African monocot genus Strelitzia (Order Zingiberales) which has a weighted-lever-mechanism that allows only birds to access the stamens.
    28 May 2024, 1:57 pm
  • 1 hour 58 minutes
    Rio Grande Valley Botany with Ernest Herrera
    In this episode we talk with field botanist Ernest Herrera about the rich floristic diversity of the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas and Northern Mexico. We talk about a variety of cool plant species as well as the cultural history and cultural repression of this unique region, how it will adapt to climate change, how to change culture in order to get people to start appreciating their native flora more, how to convince people to kill their lawns, what happened to horned lizards, what's up with Texas Tortoises, and a sh*t ton more.

    Ernest Herrera is a botanist, herper, and field biologist born and raised in South Texas.
    25 May 2024, 8:21 pm
  • 1 hour 51 minutes
    Central Texas Orchids, Limestone sinkholes, New Aster species

    In this episode we talk about why plant "rescue" is a bullshit term, how Epipactis is probably pollinated hoverflies that it dupes, whats up with this new species of Asteraceae discovered in the Chihuahua desert, why people who don't know much about botany or ecology initially prefer non-native plants orver native ones, best place to get a Texas toast waffle machine, stealing a bus bin from Olive Garden, etc

    Note : I mistakenly say Deb "described" this new species of composite. I meant to say "discovered". Blame my sleep deficit gfy
    22 May 2024, 6:28 pm
  • 2 hours 47 seconds
    Death Valley Botany with Matt Berger
    In this episode we talk with Botanist Matt Berger about Death Valley Plants, discovering new species, Limestone endemic plants, Dune Beetles, Desert Shrimp, specifist.ecology and more.
    30 April 2024, 3:13 pm
  • 2 hours 20 minutes
    The Other 99% of Life on Planet Earth : Couch Microscopy with Dr. Julia van Etten
    This conversation will make you want to buy a microscope and will make you rethink the way you envision the Tree of Life, where animals, plants and fungi are just a tiny speck on the overall tree of life.

    Dr. Julia Van Etten (of the @Couch Microscopy Instagram page) talks about what the hell a Protist is and where you can find them (everywhere). We reveal how Protists are the fine particles that weave within and throughout our world."The Tree of Life is Really a Web".

    The paper that the thumbnail is from can be found at :
    23 April 2024, 6:12 pm
  • 2 hours 13 minutes
    Western Railroading, Sobriety, & Male Archetypes
    In this episode we take a break from botany-related content to talk with my friend and fellow former locomotive engineer and railroader Lance Jenkins about railroading, sobriety, sad male archetypes in the US, stealing overtime, precision scheduled railroading and how it's responsible for the wreck in East Palestine Ohio,  "The Sun Train", and a whole lot more.
    23 April 2024, 7:05 am
  • 1 hour 23 minutes
    Diatomaceous Earth, Horse Cripplers & Leaf Blowers
    South Texas Sandsheet, Uvalde County Botany, Using a Leafblower & Diatomaceous Earth to rid yourself of crabs, what the sh*t is a Heterokont aka Stramenophile, Texas Men Will Be Able to Admit Having Feelings in 2028, and more 
    20 April 2024, 4:21 am
  • 1 hour 44 minutes
    Hunter Martinez aka Cactus Quest
    In this episode we talk with Hunter Martinez of the Cactus Quest YouTube Channel about how he got into growing cacti from seed and lurking on them in habitat. We discuss the spirituality of loving plants and deserts, the pros and cons of the collector habit common among this family of plants, why so many cacti grow on limestone geology, and the benefits of growing from seed over purchasing full-grown plants.
    13 April 2024, 4:44 am
  • 1 hour 18 minutes
    Riding Trains in Mexico, Contagious Native Plant Gardens,etc
    A series of extended rants about "F*ck the Honeybees", trying to settle beefs between friends, Male Primate Rivalry, Riding Trains in Mexico in 2005 & Brakemen with gold fronts, spreading the cult of native plant gardening via demonstration by example and killing lawns.
    30 March 2024, 8:48 pm
  • 1 hour 6 minutes
    Instagram Drug Bros & Cactus Poaching
    A long-winded rant about the social media phenomenon known as Instagram Drug Bros™️ and trying to encourage them to seek spiritual refuge (como se dice nice) in education about plant ecology and evolution rather than just the hoarding and collecting of plants that may have been sourced through somewhat unethical means. Why is plant habitat just as, if not more important than the plant itself? How is the ecological context in which a plant evolves inseparable from the plant itself? Can we get Instagram Drug Bros ™️  to start studying and collecting data on things like native solitary bees? What are the means through which Instagram Drug Bros™️ can expand their scope of interest to include things like phylogenies, breeding systems, pollination ecology, and geologic substrate? Why are so many cacti obligate out-crossers? Why is peyote self-fertile? Why do so many angiosperms produce bisexual flowers and what the hell is a breeding system?

    Also includes a nice rant about  a vestigial population of Agave unvittata found growing on a limestone cliff face above a freeway in San Antonio. Was there ever a basement in the Alamo or was that just a BS story that that huckster psychic conjured up in order to milk PeeWee out of cash?
    22 March 2024, 8:55 pm
  • 2 hours 3 minutes
    Desert Ferns with Dr. Michael Windham
    This is a science-heavy episode with Dr. Michael Windham, specialist in Cheilanthoid Ferns curator at Duke Herbarium. Even if you're not interested in this group, they're a great case study in numerous fascinating phenomena including convergent evolution, biogeography (dispersal vs. vicariance), why DNA sequencing is important to taxonomy, self-cloning to escape the limitations of being a fern in a desert, etc. 

    "Cheilanthoid Ferns" are a remarkable group of ferns - they grow in habitats where ferns seemingly shouldn't be able to grow - out of cracks in rocks and cliff faces in regions that are both usually very hot and very dry. Genera like Astrolepis, Myriopteris, Notholaena, Argyrochosma, Pellaea (the "coffe fern" in California), Cheilanthes, and more have been blowing my mind years as I frequently encountered them co-occurring in habitats with Cacti and spiny legumes. To the East, Myriopteris alabamensis grows all over drier rocky "microsites" throughout the Eastern half of North America. 
    These ferns are often either fuzzy as hell or blue, chalky-mint-green, and waxy with a wirey rachis. It'd be hard for anybody who takes a look at them to not be taken with how cool they look. 

    But how do they get it done? What are some of their adaptations? What is the evoutionary age of the family and where is the origin of diversity? What the hell is a "gametophyte" and are they unisexual or the fern equiavelent of being protogynous (and what the hell does "protogynous" mean anyway?). Why is molecular sequencing (looking at the DNA) so important for figuring out how all these plants are related to each other? What is convergent evolution and why have so many genera in this subfamily evolutionarily converged on the same strategies to cope with life in a dry environment? How do you identify species when so many of them look superficially alike and don't produce flowers (what we normally use to identify plants)? How long can their damn spores last (answer : centuries, in some cases). 

    We cover it all in this two hour podcast.  If there's a term we use that you're not familiar with, look it up or join the Crime Pays patreon and send me a message. A brief list of topics somewhat sloppily-arranged in an "episode map" is below. Note: until I can alienate the casino advertisers, they seem to be especially herpetic on this episode. Ad-free episodes can be found on the Patreon.

    apomixis : 1 hour 20

    evolutionary age ; 75 ya

    synapomorphies : revolute margins and pseudo-indusia

    convergent evolution

    center of diversity indicates center of origin

    no farina in Notholaena, but flavonoid compounds on capitate hairs resembling cotton-candy

    talking about cheilanthoid ferns to explain convergent evolution and how dna can resolve evolutionary relationships 

    difference between eusporangiate ferns and leptosporangiate

    age of viability of fern spores

    alternation of generations


    dispersal vs. vicariance 1:31

    apomixis 1:36
    12 March 2024, 6:11 pm
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