I was at the Woody Plants Conference back in July at Swarthmore College, and particularly enjoyed a talk by Peter Del Tredici entitled “Preadaptation of Plants to Specialized Urban Niches in Northeastern North America”. Del Tredici recently retired from Arnold Arboretum as a senior scientist emeritus after 35 years of service, and has taught at the Harvard GSD, and currently teaches at MIT. What I liked about this talk was it’s scientific explanation of why the same plants are emerging in various urban environments, and Del Tredici introduces the theory of preadaptation to help us understand the emergent ecology of cities. Why does purslane grow really well into brick sidewalks? How does warmer night time temperatures effect the introduction and spread of trees we do not particularly like such as tree of heaven, princess tree, and western catalpa? What affect does using salts and other de-icing chemicals to do the vegetation surrounding roadways and pathways? Preadaptation is the common theme to all of these questions.
Listen to my debrief below, recorded about a month later.