Who better to explain the meaning of the shamrock than an ethnobotanist born and raised in Ireland? Peter Wyse Jackson, the George Englemann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis, indulges our curiosity.
Ireland lost 1 million souls to hunger and disease during the potato famine and another million to immigration. But that’s not all, says Peter Wyse Jackson, PhD, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the George Engelmann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis. Ireland also lost its connection to the many plant species that sustained its people throughout the centuries. The ethnobotanist says the study of plants is more important than ever.
WUSTL researchers have shed light on one of the most important events in earth history, the conquest of land by plants. No would-be colonizer could have survived without the ability to deal with dehydration, a major threat for organisms accustomed to soaking in water. Clues to how the first land plants managed to avoid drying out are provided by the drought-tolerant moss Physcomitrella patens.