LIVE MATTER MODEL ORGANISM DESIGNING PLANTS
Rosetta S. Elkin
The Primal Plant is going to be the strangest creature in the world, which nature herself shall envy me. With this model and the key to it, it will be possible to go on forever inventing plants and know that their existence is logical; that is to say, if they do not actually exist, they could, for they are not the shadowy phantoms of a vain imagination, but possess an inner necessity and truth.
Goethe, Italian Journey (May 17, 1797)
The term “live matter” is applied here to suggest the animated but rarely fully appreciated existence of plant life. Plants displace, conjoin, sequence; they are irritable, sensitive, or combative and display a range of postures including anticipation and mobility. Live Matter concerns itself with the ongoing measure of the natural world—how plant life has been described, muted, and labeled throughout botanical history—to reveal a new discourse that delights and reveals an attitude of discovery, one that acknowledges the aliveness of plants. Botanical history lies at the center of a dialogue that informs how we encounter and structure plant life. Measurable classification, quantifiable data, simplification, and regularity are easily discerned as fundamental themes of scientific botany, a singular perspective that raises awareness of what we can do with plants, rather than what plants are actually doing. Within the scientific tradition, plants are generally studied as to their kind, their structure, or their value. Botanical history is filled with attempts to achieve predictability, reflecting a longstanding desire to organize the processes of life. Emerging from early botanical exploration, this history is expressed as one of exploitation and exchange, of economic advantage realized through cultivation—attitudes that do not appreciate the indefinite number of forms that can be derived from a living, breathing collection of slowly dividing cells. As the botanical sciences evolved and specimens were displaced, traded, and classified, the plant was envisioned as a
Francé, Germs of Mind in Plants (1905)
Form is but the track left by life.
Plant morphology is the biological study of form. As a science, morphology provides context and meaning to explain how plants grow, rather than describing outward shape alone. Morphology is the study of both the formation and transformation of plants. The influence of morphology will be considered here for its contribution to seeing the living world though methods based on strict observation at a variety of scales. From microcosmic activity to the relationship between form and environment, morphology treats plants as a living subject outside of strict and classificatory ideologies. Once a recognition of the totality of the plant is made, the possibility of evolving plant form is revealed. Anyone who pays a little attention to the growth of plants will readily observe that certain of the external members are sometimes transformed, so that they assume—either wholly or in some lesser degree—the form of the members nearest in the series.
Goethe, The Metamorphosis of Plants (1790)
Live Matter takes inspiration from a history of botany that is less empirically driven than the biological sciences, a history that begins with an outsider to the field, the German philosopher-poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749– 1832). In trying to understand the development of form, Goethe proposed the study of morphology for the first time in 1790. Morphology, as he described it, privileged the representational similarities between plants rather than seeking evidence to describe development. As he memorably stated,
static object—an instrument of control or a binomial label. Yet plants were adapting, reproducing, multiplying, and crossbreeding through force or will, creating the mutants and hybrids that now define our planted world. Plants represent the intersection of life and matter, and are a manifestation of irregular design, yet we know and share live matter through a longing for either divine beauty or supreme utility—our collective desire to domesticate.
small way, on their humble plane have an inkling of the delightful consciousness that what they have written has come alive under their hands—indeed, unless this happens, there is little chance of the result forming an organism rather than an artifact.
In 1946, Agnes Arber translated Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants, introducing morphological philosophies to the English-speaking world and offering a glimpse of German naturalism. Arber was also a significant contributor to the elaboration of morphology, producing not only English translations of various German texts but also advancing appreciation for science as a theoretical endeavor. Yet in the United States, morphology was never fully embraced as a philosophy with its origins in natural history: “Because the United States is principally an engineering society, concerned more with the tools of science than with its theory, philosophy, and history, we have never had a comparable natural history tradition. Because it required the use
Arber, The Mind and the Eye (1954)
Biological writers, at their best moments, may in a
morphology’s intention is “to portray rather than explain.” (Scientific Studies, 57) Using his botanical skill and observational sensitivity, Goethe aimed to reveal a primal plant, or what he termed “Die Urpflanze.” In Die Metamorphose der Pflanzen (The Metamorphosis of Plants, 1790), he proposed this plant as an “ur-form,” a model from which an indefinite number of forms could be derived. Individual metamorphoses were achieved through the basic principles of growth and convergence, which persist through a continuous process of differentiation. He relied on his knowledge of (and skepticism toward) classification, determining that taxonomy was limited and could certainly not lead to a closer understanding of genera and species; he feared that science would be reduced to memorization of principles. For Goethe, science became a philosophy that transcended the human capacity to define it.
In all scientific research the difficulty of uniting idea and experience appears to be a great obstacle, for an idea is independent of time and place but research must be restricted within them. Therefore, in an idea, the simultaneous and successive are intimately bound up together, whereas in an experience they are always separated. Our attempt to imagine an operation of Nature as both simultaneous and successive, as we must in an idea, seems to drive us to the verge of insanity. The intellect cannot picture united what the senses present to it separately, and thus the duel between the perceived and the ideated remains forever unsolved. For this reason we take flight into poetry.
From Goethe’s perspective, his era of scientific research had produced a limiting dependence on measure through microscopic study and on order through taxonomy. These two approaches, he believed, were quick to confirm “truth” rather than articulate and convey knowledge. In his view, organic entities achieved only temporary form, continually forming and transforming, and as a result could never be understood as being formed. For Goethe, the study of plant life was based on first-hand experience and observation, so that even when using tools or apparatuses, the entity could be known only by paying attention to its constant activity. This activity had to be met with a similarly dynamic pursuit, which he believes can only be accomplished by close observation. Goethe was well aware of the captivating descriptions that had emerged from early microscopic science, in particular Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665), but declared that it had no relation to thought—that Hooke had reduced the living world to a series of objects, in finished states. His work would instead expose the appeal and scalar potential of formation, as opposed to the static order of form. The act of enlarging—of increasing knowledge through magnification—implies that bigger is better, that performance is enhanced with increased size. Magnification considered in this way thus poses major aesthetic and experiential questions. Whether traveling in Italy, studying in Germany, or elucidating his ideas through poetry, Goethe resolutely argues for a
Goethe, “Indecision and Surrender” (1820)
of a particular tool (microscopy), plant anatomy, which focuses on the cell and tissue levels of organization, received greater emphasis and scientific credibility in this country than did plant morphology” (Kaplan 2001).
from their original state to diversity, they are striving toward greater perfection, in the sense that each leaf has the intention of becoming a branch, and each branch a tree.
Goethe, â€œPreliminary Notes for a Physiology of Plantsâ€? (1790)
The contribution of plant morphologists to the study of live matter advances our understanding of the plant as a unique series of formations, an ongoing developmental process. When structures in different species are believed to exist and develop as a result of common, inherited genetic pathways, their material becomes fluid, roots grow into stalks, from branches emerge stems and transform into leaves. Rather than simply considering the sciences within the confines of heterogeneity, morphology breaks the tendency to isolate and dislocate the plant and offers a uniform structure that unifies the material composition of the plant world.
When leaves divide, or rather when they advance
science of organisms that takes into account their existence, the fact that they are alive. Botanical science to him was a precious adventure and a mystery; its features resided not in the distinctions between types but in the core tenets concealed in all plant form. This plant logic was what motivated Goethe to propose the philosophy of metamorphosis (the origin of plant morphology) and to posit the concept of a model organism. By thinking in sequence, through movement, time, and transformation, Goethe conceived of an apparently identical core to the manifestation of plants, although inner and external circumstances ultimately modify their appearance.
hypothesis that it might be possible to derive all plant forms from one original plant becomes clearer to me and more exciting. Only when we have accepted this idea will it be possible to determine genera and species exactly.
Goethe, Italian Journey (Sept 27, 1786)
The question is not whether there exists a theoretical primeval plant type that lies embedded in all organisms but rather if the model plant has ever actually materialized. Is it indeed the strangest creature in the world? And can we endlessly invent plants as a result of its pattern? The history of plant morphology provides a intellectual setting within which to propose a future of live matter. Attempts to
Arber, The Natural Philosophy of Plant Form (1950)
the error of thinking about it pictorially.
but he perhaps hardly realized how easily one might slip into
regarded his archetypal plant as a supersensible conception,
the plane of the visible and tangible. Goethe definitely
abstractions, where it belongs, to that of sensuous thinking,
irresistible propensity to transfer it from the plane of
of the type concept, namely that the mind has an almost
once confronted with the main difficulty in the employment
When we attempt to consider the archetypal plant, we are at
I am confounded with a great variety of plants; my
Although botanists and morphologists have analyzed the concept of the primal plant according to a variety of schemes, there is still no “right” or “wrong” conclusion about its existence. By considering Goethe’s primal plant principle across 200 years of plant thinking, however, it becomes clear that it is the manifold contemplations of the plant itself that are most remarkable. While the notion of a primal plant may seem to propose an ancestral form, a closer reading of his writings suggests that he was describing the plant as a speculation and a projection. From his diary entries from Italy, it would seem that Goethe was not concerned about unlocking a past—a misreading prompted by his use of the term “primal”—but of projecting a future where plants could be invented like an artifact or constructed like a poem. In Arber’s review of the “plant type” theory, she defaults to her admiration of Goethe and his drive toward “sensuous thinking.” Through Arber’s lens, there was only one Goethean philosophy and therefore only one possible incarnation of the primal plant; any further attempts to lend it material validity would always be subsidiary to its philosophical implications.
interpret have remained the territory of scientists, while poets, dreamers, and philosophers have added value to the lineage of theoretical morphology. Have we stopped dreaming?
When Goethe proposed “Alles ist Blatt” (all is leaf), he was declaring that within its manifold expansions and contractions, the entire plant was made up of a similar and singular structure. Although the plant may formally be perceived as bearing different parts (such as stem and leaf), it may reveal itself to be an inseparable whole. Consequently plants could be conceived of as a model, containing an internal plan, or pattern. The leaves of a plant usually resemble one another, but they differ from species to species, a circumstance first addressed by A. Pyramus de Candolle (1778–1841), through the suggestion of homology. The concept of homology explains both the character of leaf modifications and the similarity of parts that might look very different. Arber suggests that the study of modifications is an essential task of the morphologist, an approach stemming from Goethe and activated by de Candolle, and representing a common emphasis of morphology during her time. Essentially, homology elucidates the common forms that persist in plants as being established by ancestral form, outside of outward shape
Turpin, “The Plant Archetype” in Œuvres d’histoire naturelle de Goethe (1804)
POPULUS AS URPFLANZE
from the development, growth, and increase in number of certain minute parts, of which the plant is built up. These component parts are so much alike, at least in an early stage, and are so obviously formed all on one type, that they take one common name, that of cells.
Gray, Structural Botany or Organography on the Basis of Morphology (1879)
The process of cell division is entirely responsible for growth in plant life. Every organ attains its size and density through the continuous division of cells, uniting seemingly dissimilar parts of the plant through this ongoing transformation. Because the multiplication of cells is influenced by both biological and environmental contexts, each species manifests itself as distinct and individual. Therefore plants are assemblages of developmental growth, structured through space and time. This is what Goethe reveals in one simple quote, one magnificent moment reflected through observation. Everything is leaf. The species Populus is the first woody plant to have its genome fully sequenced. It is now considered the foundational plant for the study of woody perennials, and it has also been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as the model forest species. The ease at which poplar cloning is achieved and its narrow range of variation have made it a basic reference for botanists, silviculturalists, and geneticists. Is it possible that we have Goethe’s primal plant in our midst? The name Populus, also means “people” in Latin, reflecting its ability to colonize, spread, and populate the land. The genus poplar prospers within some of the widest geographic ranges, from warm, temperate climates to subarctic zones, and from floodplain to hyper-arid ecosystems.
Grew, “Transverse cut through vine branch.” in The Anatomy of Plants (1682)
The development and growth of the root, as of other organs, results
and function. Homology describes why forms transition when structure remains similar, such as the observation of the leaf as it appears from axillary bud to terminal bud to foliage leaf.
Plant? There certainly must be one. Otherwise, how could I recognize that this or that form was a plant if all were not built upon the same basic model?
Goethe, Italian Journey (April 17, 1787)
Clonal dispersal is a method of distribution that adds to the overall abundance and vigor of a plant. Dispersal is essentially the inclination of an organism to grow away from its parent, either the site of its birth or breeding. In this way, the organism gains ground and achieves scale by progressing horizontally through rhizomes, a modified stem that runs horizontally and bears roots in one
de Candolle, Organographie Vegetale (1827)
by contemplation; that is what I call a type.
by observation, sometimes conceivable only
a consistent state, which is sometimes visible
Each family of plants can be represented by Among this multitude might I not discover the Primal
Poplars have become model organisms among all extant species. But just how has this genus achieved such broad territorial dominance? Why has it come to define and unite globally diverse landscapes? The answers can be found in its internal pattern, its morphology, and its exceptionally vigorous root system. Cuttings taken from a single poplar can produce an infinite number of genetically identical trees, better known as clones. The ease of this process has made poplar the industry standard in plantations, erosion control, and biomass farming, confirming the treeâ€™s value and popularity. Cloning creates genetically identical individuals and occurs as both a botanical process of reproduction and a form of horticultural propagation. Poplar clones are generated by crossing different species to enhance certain significant features, such as improving brittleness, narrowing crowns, and extending lifecycles. Further, poplars tend to cross easily with other species, including willow (Salix sp.) creating valuable hybrid types, which are most easily propagated by vegetative means. While clones are genetically identical, hybrids are crosses between plants that will generate new genes, new species.
into a system deserve the highest degree of approval only when such attempts are necessary, when they separate
Cloning encourages great longevity, as individuals can range in both age and stature, benefiting from constant regeneration. Clones are considered immortal, as they reveal continual and infinite formation. In the case of one famous Populus tremuloides clone named Pando (in South Central Utah), the clonal dispersal range is 40 hectares; its roots have been estimated to average 80,000 years old, making it the largest single organism on the planet. As experienced on the ground, Pando looks and feels like a forest, but its underground life is not only unified and interconnected but genetically identical. Pando is not a monoculture, it is an immortal plant, or potentially it is a model organism.
the immutable parts from the more or less accidental and mutable ones, and in that way shed more light upon the extremely close relationship of the various families.
Goethe, â€œPreliminary Notes for a Physiology of Plantsâ€? (1790)
THE ROOT STEM
Although some emphasis has been placed on acknowledging the dynamic behavior of plants, they remain in a perceived state of fixity, as alleged by their limited
Arber, The Natural Philosophy of Plant Form (1950)
concerned with the same living world.
with something of a shock, that all the branches are
achieved, differ so widely that one reminds oneself,
highly technical methods by which these aims are
another. The aims which they pursue, and the
which are, to a great extent isolated from one
branches of biology cannot but lead to existences
In these days of specialized study, the different
We grant that attempts to classify the great mass of plants
direction and shoots in the other. This unique manner of dispersal yields other individual members that emerge at a distance from the parent plant and transform into independent plants, drawing resources both by association and through independent means. These organisms, called ramets, remain genetically identical and grow into trees that only appear distinct. As a result, clonal species, such as certain poplars are able to cover large areas through the production of underground clonal root systems, a network that tends to dominate the rhizosphere.
Masters, Plant Life on the Farm (1885) 5˚45ʼ p.m. 17 th
injured; and relatively speaking do not suffer from 5˚45ʼ p.m. 17 th
6˚40ʼ a.m. 18 th
6˚45ʼ a.m. 17 th
a leaf, or a mass of roots, and a number of leaves
the damage done to their fellows. 6˚45ʼ a.m. 17 th
still live on, because there are more left behind un-
6˚40ʼ a.m. 18 th
may be injured, or even killed, and the plant will
the whole, and the individual cells of plants are, as
a rule, much more independent one of the other
than are the individual cells of an animal. A root or 6˚40ʼ a.m. 19th
6˚40ʼa.m. 19 th
8˚35ʼa.m. 19 th
6˚35ʼa.m. 20 th
6˚40ʼa.m. 19 th
Darwin, “Circumnutation of Seedlings,” in The Power of Movement in Plants (1880)
6˚40ʼ a.m. 19th
Fig. 14. 8˚12ʼa.m. 18 th
Francé, Germs of Mind in Plants (1905)
8˚12ʼa.m. 18 th
All growth is nothing but a series of tiny movements.
The death of a part is not necessarily the death of 11˚
8˚35ʼa.m. 19 th
6˚35ʼa.m. 20 th
Rootlet tips follow gravity, seek water, cling mobility. Plants are rooted. Nevertheless, many plants display an incredible range of movement, as explicated by reproduction, dispersal, and other forms of distribution that scale from the individual to the territory. Many plants exploit patterns in animals and climates to expand their range. Darwin dedicated volumes to the influences on plant movement, producing extensive techniques to measure tropisms. Typically, the most perceivable forms of movement achieve the most consideration by humans. But of particular relevance to the potential mobility of plants, which also expresses their most energetic display of life, is the root system. A plant’s growth in stature is entirely dependent on its root system. At a smaller scale, the zone of activity at the root tip is a vigorous area that achieves length through cell division. In the life of a plant, the initial stage of growth may not always be uniform, but it is always limited to the root system. The little rootlet pushes through seed and then soil by ineffable powers, as it senses its way downward toward moisture. This additional stimulus catalyzes the growth of a tiny little stem, whose sole desire to reach toward light is as remarkable as the rootlets’ urge to drink. Tough, resistant cells are deposited at the end of the root tip to withstand the wear and tear of this search for moisture, over rocks, through compaction, and into crevices. Root hairs emerge for a short term, perhaps just hours, but are constantly renewed and increase the root’s capacity to absorb water. These root hairs do not occur
Francé, Germs of Mind in Plants (1905)
to the surrounding matter and flee from light.
There is no true measure of a root system. Ideally, the description of clonal growth in plants would include the root system, thereby valuating the entire biomass of the organism. Instead, typical measure is taken from the annual increments in the radius of the vertical stem. The most visible and commonly celebrated flowers, fruit, bark, nuts, and leaves that make up the appreciated plant world amounts to just a small fraction of the life that exists under our feet. There is no question that the biological world poses problems of inventory and origin, behavior and exception. Reflections on underlying orders, veiled patterns, and inconspicuous structure types represent an endeavor to advance the role of thinking and philosophy through practices of transformation, an encounter with the sciences that asks more questions than it answers, where every description exists against a background of biological theory.
Troll, â€œDissipation using the type concept, Die Urpflanzeâ€? (1937)
at more mature areas of the root, which have no active participation in this quest for absorption.
In early 2015, London’s Kew Gardens published a Science Strategy report that addressed the future of plant-based knowledge. It defined their organizational mission to “document and conduct research into the global plant and fungal diversity and its uses for humanity” and described plants as “humankind’s life support system.” According to the report, in plants we find an indication of our environmental health, with an obvious correspondence between our understanding of their function and our own ability to survive on the planet. Kew Gardens claims to be “the largest collection of living plants.” Some years earlier, the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology published a report entitled The Dignity of Nonhuman Beings with Regard to Plants”. This publication is groundbreaking for even considering the dignity of plants as a topic of serious discussion. The Kew report, in contrast, does not acknowledge the individual plant, the ethics of collecting, or the history of colonial possession and oppression linked to their mission. The juxtaposition of these two reports illustrates opposing attitudes toward plants—collectible specimens versus living beings with some claim to ethical treatment. Live Matter introduces an alternative to dualistic readings that counterpose qualitative and quantitative information, art and science, technological proof and verifiable observation—ultimately humans and plants. Rather than merely highlighting the views that have created the dissociation, a new natural history of live matter is proffered here to reinforce the study of plants as living, breathing organisms. The endless fascination with the plant world has established a significant number of subfields within botanical studies, but while these areas of inquiry provide detailed and crucial
Francé, Germs of Mind in Plants (1905)
Science must, in the future, be made the property of all.
form, we have first to realize it accurately by means of sensuous perception; secondly, to get the completest possible picture of it with the mind’s eye, a picture which receives sculptural solidity from the data gathered by touch, and internal concreteness from knowledge of anatomical structure; and thirdly, to advance beyond this representation, so as to grasp its underlying and surrounding context of significance, and to see it in its living aspect, and in its relation to other forms.
A secret history of live matter can be found as fragments, in thousands of passages documenting the experiments and statistics that become celebrated artifacts of progress. To construct a history of live matter is to mark a difference in how plants are studied—not simply as a source of learning. Live matter, as offered here, suggests that scientific momentum has rationalized plant life for the sake of authoritative description. While this mode of research has greatly advanced our understanding of the plant world through necessary objectification, constructing a history of live matter proposes an affiliation with plants that takes the perspective of the plant. Designers and scientists have radically different goals; as a theory, the elucidation of plants as live matter accepts the mutability, temporality, and aliveness of plants as a design opportunity. Planting—“to plant” or to fix in place—is a quintessential human act, one of displacement and authority. An exploration of the distinction between scientific botany and philosophical botany could yield useful insights. The former serves ambitions of domestication, while the latter is engrained in curiosity. What if we did not learn to know plants through scientific botany alone, but could understand their growth forms, processes, and transformations? Would this influence the way we treat and apply live matter?
Arber, The Natural Philosophy of Plant Form (1950)
In order to arrive at the fullest understanding of any individual plant
metrics for the science community, they do not facilitate a deeper understanding of plants as a process, a study worthy of our attention outside of the necessity for domestication. I have attempted to do this by proposing a fresh focus on selected key figures in the history of the study of plants. A reexamination of the brilliant achievements of these scientific pioneers generates a variant discourse on live matter that landscape architects, in particular, can valuably extend today and into the future.
Landscape architecture is a discipline of borrowed consequences, deriving value from a distant horizon, a geological condition, an extreme climate, an adjacent geometry. The practice of transforming the land is inevitably tied to forces external to the design itself. In much the same way, landscape architectural history grafts itself to diverse allied disciplines, from agronomy to art, engineering, and architecture. As a relatively new field and one that has been purposeful in distancing itself from gardening, landscape architecture is in the midst of a contemporary renaissance; many practitioners and theorists are diligently articulating an agenda within the built environment that makes landscape principles more essential than ever. In this work, we need reenvisioned histories as well as futures.
Form is something mobile, something becoming, something passing.
Goethe, “Formation and Transformation” (1824)
As a form of cultural currency, landscape architecture is poised to address complexities that range from the deterioration of planted spaces in cities to the failings of industrial agriculture. It is plants and all live matter that set us apart from other disciplines in the design context. In contending with the varied scales of these challenges, we must grapple with our inability to contribute to the complexity of botanical progress. Morphology, the study of plants’ form and structure, offers a framework and a history of “plant thinking” that transcends positivist science. Just as landscape architects borrow from ecology and culture alike, many morphologists acknowledge that science itself is a philosophy and that “evidence” is always framed by some kind of theory. Whether in determining form, representing formation, or theorizing
Equipped with this preliminary knowledge, and recognizing the necessity of the greatest possible caution, because of the delicacy of their sensation, we can examine into the sense life of plants. It will reveal to us one of the most entrancing pictures of modern natural history.
Live Matter calls out plants as a design medium, a proposition that acknowledges that we remain in a period of discovery when it comes to transformations of the plant itself. The subject of live matter is, in a sense, about how we participate in the universal act of planting. We plant grasslands, forests, coasts, and deserts with plantations, orchards, parks, gardens, and coppices. The subject of plants is invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the spiritual to the practical, and within structures that engage the activist, scientist, and artist. The potential of thinking differently about plants trespasses on other histories to reveal that botany is not only a science but a subject worthy of creative study. What is left out of Live Matter is any particular consequence. Thinking about plants imaginatively does not produce an outcome or help us sell anything. If a plant is known only for its use, this is an abridged version of life, one that has been mischaracterized solely as a productive endeavor. In proposing a model plant, Goethe offers a significant reorientation toward the potential of plant life. Where scientific methodologies tend to study the nature of what exists, he was imagining what did not yet exist, radically proposing that the plant itself was the site of design speculation. It is not a simple task to account for the absence of morphological thought when elucidating landscape
FrancĂŠ, Germs of Mind in Plants (1905)
transformation, morphological thought embodies the uncertainty of time and process, offering a rich theoretical and practical lineage to current practices of landscape architecture.
as form. Structure is a relational category, which may be defined as the arrangement or organization of parts within an integrated whole. Problems of pure morphology cannot be solved by the methods of analytical science. The contemplative treatment of comparative form, rather than its analysis from the standpoint of cause and effect, becomes the morphologist’s aim; he desires to see form, both with the bodily eye and with the mind’s eye, not only in itself but in its nexus of relations. The morphologist’s standpoint is set midway between that of the mechanistic sciences and of the arts, so that his work should offer a synthesis of intellectualist logic and sensory apprehension.
architecture as a practice, despite its clear impact on botanical scholarship. Possibly this detachment is the result of the attitude that plants are an instrument of the designer, as opposed to a site of design. Landscape architects tend to use plants as tools, as a number assigned to a project or a count in greening initiatives. The mainstream history of botanical thought has been so effectively impressed on the profession that we inherit the perception that every plant was put on earth to be of service to humans. Even as this theory seems preposterous in relation to modern conceptions of ecology and nature, by assuming it to be true, science could be justified and plants could be explained. Many energetic plant morphologists of the past shared a predisposition for uncertainty, mystery, and doubt, as they engaged with both verifiable fact and speculative thought. They treat live matter as a subject without sentimentality or ecological remorse, developing a circumspect relationship to the formal sciences. The quoted texts extracted for this project, which highlight aliveness rather than usefulness, are selected to reinforce the active study and ultimately the bold manipulation of plants. Planting is the only activity that truly renews itself, with transplanting as its antithesis. The impulse to inquire has become dormant as we approach the natural world, as scientific frameworks limit our scope as designers. Goethe—as poet, artist, and dreamer—contributed significantly to the natural sciences by projecting the impact of a model organism. He gave new prominence to describing development, which yielded an entire branch of specialization.
Arber, The Mind and the Eye (1954)
The morphological approach to biology is through structure viewed
Within a comparatively recent period but little study was given to exceptional formations. They were considered as monsters to be shunned, as lawless deviations form the ordinary rule, unworthy of the attention of botanists, or at best as objects of mere curiosity. By those
Perhaps the greatest promise of live matter is an act of the imagination that goes beyond grotesquely twisted branches, proliferous flowers, and other clonal deviations to project a future of invented plants and designed morphologies. While botanical science continues to manipulate plants to construct the choicest fruits, the stoutest stalks, or an excess of seed, landscape architects have yet to apply their spatial imagination to design or invent plants. At a more fundamental level, the question of live matter is also a challenge: can landscape architects not only design with plants, but design plants?
whose notions of structure and conformation did not extend beyond the details necessary to distinguish one species from another, or to
MUTANTS & HYBRIDS
describe the salient features of a plant in technical language; whose
Monstrous form is rarely cause for celebration. Although singularities attest to the unique character of plants, their mutations tend to be cause for concern. Regularity supports classification and order, and predictability grounds the science of plant breeding, despite a world contingent on exceptional circumstances. Within scientific botany, methods of comparison have been developed to reveal regularity, and so finding analogies becomes a source of judgment. Linnaean authority underpins the success of the systematic over the exceptional. Historically, expressing a morphological perspective implied an
acquaintance with botanical science might also be said to consist in the conventional application of a number of arbitrary terms, or in the recollection of a number of names, teratology was regarded as a chaos whose meaningless confusion it were vain to attempt to render intelligible; as a barren field not worth the labor of tillage.
Masters, Vegetable Teratology, an Account of the Principal Deviations from the Usual Construction of Plants (1868)
If landscape architects could broaden the perspective from the environmental sciences that accentuate our large-scale ambitions, we could attend to the much smaller scale of this transformation. Each microscopic fragment culminates in a macrocosmic reading of the subject as a whole.
When introducing a science of morphology, we must avoid speaking in terms of what is fixed. What has just been formed is instantly transformed.
Since the origin of terrestrial plant life, organisms have been freely mutating and hybridizing to survive. Mutants can be defined as plants that differ from other plants though one or more characteristics, which may simply occur externally by environmental influence or with more complexity through internal structural exception. Deliberate cross-breeding is achieved by altering the genetics of the plant, a practice passed down from ancient civilizations. In each case, higher yield, pest resistance, and ease of pollination underscore the rationale. Flower, fragrance, and form are among the most frequently manipulated horticultural attributes. There are thousands of designed poplar hybrids, and thousands more unrecognized, as these hybridize freely in the landscape. As a result, disagreements abound over species classification, as formations and exceptions develop across vast expanses. While monoclonal stands reproduce vigorously underground, wind pollination ensures tremendous ranges. Poplar plants resist taxonomy, provide a model of structure, pattern their movement, validate immortality, and hybridize freely: perhaps they are the strangest creatures in the world?
Goethe, â€œFormation and Transformationâ€? (1824)
association with A. de Candolle, who drew attention to teratology, rather than Linnaeus, who tended to ignore exceptions, reducing the plant to both a category and a predictable arrangement. The scope of morphology suggests praise of exceptional form by avoiding systematic simplification, offering an examination of plant form as a kind of philosophy. In landscape architecture, little study has been given to generating exceptions or designing plants to deliberately reinforce desirable characteristics.
WHY CONSTRUCT A HISTORY OF LIVE MATTER?
Because the science of botany has been constructed by human desire, botanical history does not chronicle the description of plants but the ambitions of planting. Specialization in the sciences was invented to reinforce this trend, reducing the plant to a matter of human determination and exploitation. This popular history begins with Aristotle’s claim that plants cannot sense—and are therefore inferior to animals—and leads us through herbals and into Linnaean classification, which gained prominence and wielded increased impact through the expansion of economic trade and exchange. Today, with the rise of industrial agriculture, this system underpins vast extensions of monoculture. The most current chapter in this “regulated” botanic history features the spread of ecological fear, including the threat of mass extinctions and the loss of species diversity.
The “live matter archive” is offered as a conceptual framework for making sense of botany as a theoretical and philosophical endeavor that attracted radical intellectuals of the natural sciences. Common to each participant in this assembled history is the ultimate acceptance and expression of plant life as separate from the anthropogenic view of life. In this science, methods varied, formats shifted, and descriptions ranged, enabling the protagonists cited to apprehend plants through a variety of perspectives, from the explicitly empirical to the observational and imaginative. Without the pressure of justification, actors in the following archive sought to research and represent plant life to explain biological structure as a series of processes that attested to the aliveness of the plant. Plants had to be alive to be understood. This lineage of thought extends from Theophrastus and incorporates the foundations of morphology to suggest an alternate reading of the organism, one that deserves to be reviewed for its implicit ties to the design of plant life.
How can plants ever be considered individual organisms outside of the demands of economically driven botany or the dense fog of environmental catastrophe? Plants are used as agents of profit or ecology, within frameworks based solely on developing procedures, relations, or agendas quite outside of a plant’s own desire to persist and develop. The plant gives food, wood, medicine, or shade, or is left as a relic of times past or an ecological memorial. Even the act of understanding plants assumes human dominance, and this authority is dictated by an invented history.
Live Matter seeks to elucidate a concurrent history, a description of plant life borne out of curiosity about the mysterious nature of how plants form or transform, as individuals. Outside of the established chronicle, this alternative archive seeks to gain understanding through the individuals whose attempts to explore the life of an organism have been mostly observational and grounded in a respect and admiration for plant life.
JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE
Anatomy of Plants
Formation and Transformation
Metamorphosis of Plants
“We should not expect to find in plants a complete correspondence with animals since plants, in contrast to animals, have no behavior or activities, for a plant has the power of growth in all its parts, inasmuch as it has life in all its parts.”
“There is also another motion in some roots, not heeded, that is contortion; whereby without being moved out of their place they are writhed or twisted as a piece of cloth is when water is wrung out of it. This motion cannot be noted without flipping off the bark; whereby the vessels may be seen.”
“The doctrine of formation is the doctrine of transformation. When we study forms, the organic ones in particular, nowhere do we find permanence, repose, or termination.”
“Anyone who pays a little attention to the growth of plants will readily observe that certain of the external members are sometimes transformed, so that they assume—either wholly or in some lesser degree—the form of the members nearest in the series.”
Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle, advanced his teacher’s work on the botanical aspect of biology. From this lineage, biological terminology was first acquired from the zoological, including the use of terms such as flesh (plant pulp), backbone (leaf rib), heart (pith wood), etc. He is often referenced as the first true botanist or plant scientist, and called “the father of botany,” as his Enquiry into Plants is the oldest botanical work in existence. According to most sources, little was added to the knowledge of plants between the time of Theophrastus and the sixteenth century.
The early history of microscopic science is punctured with contradictory observations, as evidenced through the trials of examining agitated phenomena for the first time. The opportunity to see the world differently, inversely and with exclusive equipment, appealed to scientific pioneers. Grew contributed significantly to the botanical aspect of magnification— especially on how inward form expresses itself in external formation—but was clear in asserting that the microscope provided a supplementary view to what could be seen with the naked eye, not a replacement. Grew stresses observation by the unmediated eye, and his skepticism toward the instrument marks his work as a form of research as well as a method that produced drawings as clear visual output of a plant’s structure and growth. He took his investigations into plant anatomy as far as possible without magnification, and when microscopic evidence was called for, he carefully led his reader into, and then out of, those rarified views by employing visual cues in his engravings that preserved, at all stages, the primary experiential frame of reference of the observational capacity of the human subject.
The primal plant, or Urpflanze as described by Goethe, does not originate from a particular existing plant but is offered as a pattern, or model form based on his study of various plants—a methodological idea proposed as the foundation for logical scientific conclusions. In other words, Goethe proposed a science that is not dependent on the structure of assumptions or hypotheses. What is most remarkable about this search for a model is that it lacked a historical lineage or precedent. Never before had the concept of “the primal plant” or the belief in its ongoing transformation been advanced; for the first time, the plant was seen as a process, rather than containing processes.
did not seem to reflect serious scientific study. One of the most remarkable aspects of Goethe’s attitude to botany is that he proposed ideas that were contrary to the general view, with confidence and style. His stance was one of calm pleasure and philosophical speculation, as opposed to the prevailing posture of science as challenging work of strict analysis aligned with positivist principles.
One critical achievement of his scholorship is the distinction with which he describes cultivated and “wild” plants that he applies to explore a simple method of comparison between growth, form, habit, in order to expand upon the way in which trees originate. His expression of the association between climate and form has contributed to a closer understanding of the particularities of trees as having specific individual desires, outside of human will, desire and influence.
Goethe continued to develop his ideas on morphology throughout his life, his thoughts and observations on botany undergoing their own transformations across writing formats from novels to poetry and essays. Metamorphosis of Plants was the first theory on plant morphology, accomplished with 123 paragraphs, and based on direct observation and speculation. As a result, botanists of the time mostly ignored his theory, whose casual tone and format of presentation
In Metamorphosis, Goethe endeavored to prove that various plant parts develop from a model, so that structure remains somewhat similar yet becomes modified and transformed progressively. In recognizing that observing nature had become his greatest pleasure, Goethe embraced vitality, describing plants as being in a constant state of transformation. In this essay, he defends the undertaking of morphology by self-reference, justifying his description of organisms with the necessary sensitivity found in what he calls “consistent effort”. According to one translator, Bertha Mueller, the material for this essay was compiled from a decade of notes, reflecting how long Goethe had been absorbed in the philosophy of plant life.
MAXWELL T. MASTERS
Théorie Élémentaire de la Botanique
Vegetable Teratology, an Account of the Principal Deviations from the Usual Construction of Plants
Structural Botany, or Organography on the Basis of Morphology
The Power of Movement in Plants
“The central position of symmetry was clear: the true science of general natural history consists of the study of the symmetry proper to each family, and the agreements of these families one with another, everything else is no more than scaffolding, more or less useful in achieving that end.”
“In the investigation of teratological phenomena constant reference must be made to the normal condition, and vice versa, else neither the one nor the other can be thoroughly understood. It cannot be overlooked that the form and arrangement called normal are often merely those which are more common.”
“The Plant is a ‘Composite Being’, or a community, lasting, in the case of a tree, through an indefinite and often immense number of generations. These are successively produced, enjoy a term of existence, and perish in their turn. Life passes onward continually from the older to the newer parts, and death follows, with equal step, at a narrow interval.”
“The chief object of the present work is to describe and connect together several large classes of movement, common to all plants.”
In establishing “la methode de Candolle,” the Swiss botanist departs from what he calls “artificial” classification, conceiving of multiple systems and their clear application to the multifarious study of plant life. He distinguishes between systems and methods, where a system is a classification of a particular part of an organism and a method is a key proposed to describe parts of an organism. Like Goethe, de Candolle expanded this interest in common or symmetrical organization by studying how similar processes result in differentiation, which is the simple but nonetheless remarkable action through which cells, tissues, and organs pass from one state to another. As a perceptive observer—who according to Arber “approached morphology with a freshness of mind”— de Candolle pursued differentiation between similar cells to discern how transformation of the cell functions in an individual plant’s aspirations toward survival.
While Goethe used comparison to draw out the difference between normal and abnormal formation, it was Masters who first addressed abnormalities as a comprehensive subject worthy of deep scholarship. Vegetable Teratology is the first in this evolution of research, which examines the nature of monstrosities outside of classification, oriented instead toward morphology. “These were no mere figments of the poet’s imagination,” he posits, in reference to the precise relationship between growth and irregularity. The classification of plants had obviously passed over exceptions, just as it had neglected the relationship between plants, or symbiosis. Categories and arrangements depended on simple binomials, which led to identification as the common parameter for valuing the natural world. When developing teratology as a science, Masters stands out for treating the subject morphologically and delighting in the complexities of development, while most botanists at the time were describing plants by the authority of outward form alone.
Within the scope of Asa Gray’s illustrious contributions to botanical thought, it is his study of plant development that influences this selected history of live matter. While much of morphologic production was deemed philosophical, Gray adeptly turned his attention to teaching and producing textbooks that explored How Plants Grow (1858) and How Plants Behave (1872), situating his pedagogy in the act of formation as the elaboration of form. As a naturalist, professor, collector, author, and founder of Harvard’s Herbarium, he was at the center of a remarkable world of discovery in early American botany. But his particular contribution was the unpretentious account of plant life, offered in a series of condensed formats, in which he appeals to his readers to recognize the structure of plants rather than commit technical terms to memory. For Gray, botany was an approach to thinking that revealed a deeper understanding of life.
The intellectual history of live matter tracks interest in plants as more than a biological unit of study, but as a descriptive field. In addition to The Origin of Species, Darwin published 17 major books, 6 of which are botanical, and issued over 150 articles in journals and magazines. He also produced a great array of manuscripts, letters, translations, and notes particular to botany, on subjects from coral reefs to earthworms. In particular, the movements of and within plants, from the effects of light and gravity to the common bends, spirals, and other circumnutations, captivated Darwin. He conducted observation-based experiments to explain the mechanisms of movement, discovering the tip cellular elongation in the tip of the shoot. In The Power of Movement in Plants, Darwin presents a study of isolated movements that when taken together express a universal movement; he proves that every part of the plant is continually in motion, highlighting that these movements occur along varying scales, but especially at the very smallest.
AUGUSTIN P. DE CANDOLLE
Germs of Mind in Plants
Vergleichende Morphologie der höheren Pflanze
The Natural Philosophy of Plant Form
The Mind and the Eye
“Equipped with this preliminary knowledge, and recognizing the necessity of the greatest possible caution, and because of the delicacy of their sensation, we can examine into the sense life of plants. It will reveal to us one of the most entrancing pictures of modern natural history.”
“The flower is a unit of organization, a biological type. She exists not only as an ecological entity but is an archetypal unit of form and in a sense a typology of form. The viewer understands the ideological integrity of wholeness, though not only of the united parts but also its totality, as it appears to the eye.”
“By morphology we shall understand the study of form, giving this word, however, the wider connotation which it has, in general, lost; in modern speech it has become restricted, until it related only to characters of superficial shape, while the adjective ‘formal’ is reduced to mere triviality.”
“The work of the taxonomist, like that of the morphologist, is sometimes slighted as being purely ‘descriptive’, and hence of no theoretical interest; but this criticism is based on an inadequate notion of what the term description should mean in biology.”
Although the bulk of Raoul Francé’s research focuses on the soil as a primary medium, his two books on plants are at once forceful manifestos and personal philosophies on the dynamic structures of organisms. Francé was an early advocate of the importance of the soil for its crucial symbiosis with living organisms. Recognized for his work Plants as Inventors (1926), he proposed the “biotechnic” as the basis for a new science derived from the study of biological form. However, it is in his earlier work, Germs of Mind in Plants, that he reveals the motivation that drove him to frame this new science. Expressing a belief that humans had become divorced from nature, he explicitly lays the blame on Linnaean botany and appeals to the reader to perceive plants as a life form—a pleasure and a ritual of discovery.
Wilhelm Troll was unfailingly dedicated to morphology as an independent science and refers repeatedly to Goethe as “the actual founder of plant morphology” By furthering Goethe’s Urpflanze concept, Troll advanced the notion of metamorphosis as a model with which to interpret connections in varying formations. He was devoted to the idea of what he termed “type” arising out of Goethe’s use of Blatt (leaf), for which he conceived of a fundamental order in nature that could be interpreted as a conceptual framework for observing natural systems. At the same time, the contribution of Troll’s research expanded the specialization of comparative morphology by annexing ecology. Troll was a devotee of observational data and the significance of visual study, in contrast to the methods employed by his contemporaries.
On the basis of the creative and confident assertions of Agnes Arber, plant morphology can be considered both a philosophy and a discipline. The sheer quantity of Arber’s publications demonstrates a remarkable mind, even before taking into account the quality of her research, the clarity of her language, and the meticulous observations that she brought to her study. Interest in Arber’s work has increased over time, though it has yet to approach the level of her personal dedication: in sixty-eight years of research and writing, Arber produced eight books and over two hundred other publications, including thirteen poems. Arber exemplifies “plant thinking” as she insisted that science was meaningless without contemplation and reflection.
As a dynamic extension of Arber’s scientific treatises, The Mind and the Eye outlines the contours of biological thinking, underscoring the value of aesthetic judgment and individual philosophies. By the time of publication, Arber was already a distinguished botanist, a position that allowed her to speculate on the study of plants as both a deeply personal and a highly creative endeavor. At times appealing to her reader by calling the science of biology “a study of living things,” she details the latent intellectual atmosphere of biological contemplation through distinct stages—clearly the mental labors of a lifetime of reflection, achieved by studying plants up close.
RAOUL H. FRANCE
Arber, Agnes. The Mind and the Eye, a Study of the Biologist’s Standpoint. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954. [pages referenced: 49, 125] Arber, Agnes. The Natural Philosophy of Plant Form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1950. [pages referenced: 1, 4, 61, 201] Darwin, Charles. The Power of Movement in Plants. assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray, 1880. [pages referenced: 1, 24, 25]
De Candolle, Augustin P. Théorie Élémentaire de la Botanique. Paris: Chez Déterville, 1813. [page referenced: 2] De Candolle, Augustin P. Organographie Vegetale. Paris: Chez Déterville, 1827. [page referenced: 241] Francé, Raoul H. Germs of Mind in Plants. Translated by A.M. Simons. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Company, 1905. [pages referenced: 5, 23, 63, 72] Francé, Raoul H. Plants as Inventors. London: Simpkin, Marshall and Company, 1926. [page referenced: 15] Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. “Formation and Transformation,” in Goethe’s Botanical Writings. Translated by Bertha Mueller. Woodbridge, CT: Ox Bow Press, 1989. [pages referenced: 23, 28] Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. “Indecision and Surrender,” in Natural Science in General; Morphology in Particular, vol., 1, no. 1, in Goethe’s Botanical Writings. Translated by Bertha Mueller. Woodbridge, CT: Ox Bow Press, 1989. [page referenced: 219] Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Italian Journey. Translated by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer. London: Penguin Classics, 1970. [pages referenced: 71, 259, 310] Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. “The Metamorphosis of Plants,” in Goethe’s Botany. Translated by Agnes Arber. Waltham, MA: Chronica Botanica, 1946. [page referenced: 89] Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. “Preliminary Notes for a Physiology of Plants,” in Goethe’s Botanical Writings. Translated by Bertha Mueller. Woodbridge, CT: Ox Bow Press, 1989. [pages referenced: 85, 101] Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Scientific Studies (vol. 12 of Collected Works). Edited by Douglas Miller. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995. Gray, Asa. Gray’s Botanical Textbook, Vol. I: Structural Botany or Organography on the Basis of Morphology. New York: American Book Company, 1879. [pages referenced: 28, 29] Grew, Nehemiah. Anatomy of Plants. London: printed by W. Rawlins, for the author, 1682. [page referenced: plate 36]
Goethe. Screenprint by Thomas Bayrle, 1997. Courtesy of Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Bernd and Gabriele Slutzky, Frankfurt, 2009.89. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Urpflanze. Illustration by Pierre Jean François Turpin, 1804, in Œuvres d’histoire naturelle de Goethe: comprenant divers mémoires d’anatomie comparée de botanique et de géologie by Johann von Goethe. Paris: AB Cherbuliez, 1837. Image courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Dissipation of the cacti form, Urpflanze schema. Illustration by Wilhelm Troll in Goethes morphologischer Auftrag: Versuch einer naturwissenschaftlichen Morphologie by Karl Lothar Wolf and Wilhelm Troll. Tübingen: Neomarius, 1950, p. 41.
Kaplan, Donald R. “The Science of Plant Morphology: Definition, History, and Role in Modern Biology,” in American Journal of Botany. Vol. 88, No. 10 (Oct. 2001), pp. 1711–1741; 1711. Masters, Maxwell T. Plant Life on the Farm. New York: Simpkin, Orange Judd Company, 1885. [page referenced: 125]
Masters, Maxwell T. Vegetable Teratology, an Account of the Principal Deviations from the Usual Construction of Plants, with illustrations by E.M. Williams. London: Robert Hardwicke for The Ray Society, 1868. [page referenced: i] Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Science Strategy, 2015–2020. London: Board of Trustees, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2015. Swiss Confederation, Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology. The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants. Berne, 2008. Theophrastus. Enquiry into Plants, and Minor Works on Odours and Weather Signs, vol. II. Translated by Sir Arthur Hort. London: William Heinemann, 1916. Troll, Wilhelm. Vergleichende Morphologie der höheren Pflanze. Berlin: Verlag von Gebrüder Borntraeger, 1937.
RADCLIFFE INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY
This publication was produced in conjunction with the live matter exhibition in the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, produced in partnership with Radcliffeâ€™s Academic Ventures program and the Arnold Arboretum in May 2015.
I am most grateful to the Academic Ventures program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University for giving me the opportunity to explore this compelling topic as both exhibition and publication. An exhibition of this nature necessarily involves a variety of disciplines and experts. The Radcliffe Institute offered an environment in which to develop my ideas within the interdisciplinary context of their Arts Program, which explores the unique ways knowledge is generated through artistic practice.
Copyright 2015 of the edition, President and Fellows of Harvard College Copyright 2015 of the texts and images, their authors
For making this exhibition possible, I would like to express sincerest thanks to Dean Lizabeth Cohen and to: All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means without prior written permission from the author. Printed by by Puritan Capital in Hollis, New Hampshire.
EXHIBITION AND PUBLICATION Rosetta Sarah Elkin Assistant Professor Landscape Architecture Harvard University, Graduate School of Design
Yukio Lippit Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, and Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Academic Ventures Rebecca Wassarman, Executive Director, Academic Ventures Paul Beran, Associate Director, Academic Ventures Lester Gerry, Director of Facilities Management Jennifer Piazza, Building Operations Manager Andrew Doyle, Building Services Assistant THE ARNOLD ARBORETUM OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY
Design, Concept and Text Rosetta Sarah Elkin Photography Rosetta Sarah Elkin Research Assistants Michelle A. Franco Bradley Howe Editorial advisor Melissa Vaughn Arbortist Andrew Balon
Dr. William Friedman Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University Michael Dosmann, Curator of Living Collections Stephen Schneider, Director of Operations Faye Rosin, Director of Research Facilitation Andrew Gapinski, Manager of Horticulture Peter Del Tredici, Senior Research Scientist Kathryn Richardson, Curatorial Assistant For their support of my teaching and research at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, as well as of outside collaborations such as this, I am grateful to Dean Mohsen Mostafavi and Charles Waldheim, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture. Special thanks for engaging and inspired conversations go to colleagues Peter Del Tredici, Ed Eigen and Kiel Moe. I also appreciate the support of the Botany Libraries, in particular Judith Warnement and Lisa DeCesare. With appreciation for exhibition support goes to the careful excavation by Patrick and Cesare from Bartlett Tree experts, installation guidance from Dan Borelli, and support Arnold Arboretum.