Episode 151: Trees — From Root To Leaf with Paul Smith


This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Dr. Paul Smith, who serves as the secretary-general of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). BGCI leads the Global Tree Assessment and recently published the “State of the World’s Trees Report” showing that one-third of the world’s tree species are threatened with extinction. Prior to joining BGCI, Paul was the head of the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew. He is editor of The Book of Seeds, published by the University of Chicago Press. His most recent book — Trees: From Root To Leaf — is the focus of this episode. Trees provoke deep affection, spirituality, and creativity. They cover about a third of the world’s land and play a crucial role in our environmental systems — influencing the water, carbon, and nutrient cycles and the global climate. This puts trees at the forefront of research into mitigating our climate emergency. In Paul’s astonishingly comprehensive book, he celebrates all that trees have inspired across nearly every human culture throughout history. Generously illustrated with over 450 images and organized according to a tree’s life cycles — from seeds and leaves to wood, flowers, and fruit — his book lauds the great diversity and beauty of the 60,000 tree species that inhabit our planet. In this episode, host Michael Shields and Dr. Paul Smith explore the wonders found within Trees: From Root To Leaf. They discuss the magical ways in which seeds spread themselves throughout the world and the crucial work done at seed banks internationally. They discuss how Climate Change is affecting tree populations and other threats to tree extinction throughout the planet, and much, much more.


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