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Welcome to Crash Course Botany! Over the next 15 episodes, Alexis Nikole Nelson will spill plants’ secrets—how they evolved, how they function, and just how vital they are to human societies and all of life on Earth. Episode 1 premieres on May 18.

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CC Kids:

Hey. Wanna know a secret?

Right now, all around you, plants are gossiping. In chemical whispers, they’re passing notes through underground roots. Notes about potential predators that linger nearby, or how cool it would be if they all coordinated so an entire orchard ripened in unison.

Plants are also reacting— growing and moving in response to gravity, touch, and light. Traveling via fuzz and feathers. And fighting back against those predators I mentioned.

But despite all that action, we humans have a funny way of… not noticing plants at all. We let them fade into the background, even though they’re essential to our survival… and just really freaking cool! Hi, I’m Alexis, and this is Crash Course Botany —the study of plants, which I’ve been doing since the first time I laid my little baby  hands on a leaf and shoved it into my mouth. [Alexis giggles] Hey, I was learning!

And I still am! You might know me from my TikTok, where I yell about plants and show you how to make them into delicious meals. Or you might have seen my TED Talk, where I made some tasty chips from kelp that I foraged myself —and also discussed the environmental impacts of the agricultural industry.

I’ve also been an outdoor educator, helping others see how truly exciting and invigorating plants are. The more I tune into plants, the more a rich, dramatic world unfolds all around me. And over the next fifteen  episodes, I can’t wait to show it to you.

We’ll explore what separates plants from other living things —and what we have in common. We’ll uncover how plants work, from their itsy-bitsy cells, to their water-absorbing roots. And we’ll learn how the very first plants evolved, kicked off by a weird event where a microbe got a little hangry.

We’ll also see how changes in genes across millennia sparked the whole wild  kaleidoscope of plant life —every tomato, every tree, every stinky corpse flower. And we’ll explore how people have manipulated plants’ genes in increasingly precise ways —influencing not just the plants’ future, but our own. Along the way, we’ll learn why plants are  such a life-giving, ecosystem-powering, society-shaping big deal.

And we know just how big a deal thanks to knowledge gleaned by Indigenous cultures and Western science alike. We’ll introduce you to some amazing stories of discovery to see how botanical knowledge has shaped — and continues to shape — our world. So join us!

And get ready. You won’t be-leaf what secrets plants are hiding. Thanks for watching this episode of Crash Course Botany which was filmed at the Damir Ferizović Studio and made in partnership with  PBS Digital Studios and Nature.

If you want to help keep Crash Course free for everyone, forever, you can join our community on Patreon.