054: Capturing Big Trees and Cultivating Curiosity with author and professor Matt Ritter

Dr. Matt Ritter grew up in rural Mendocino County, California. After earning a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from U.C. Santa Barbara, he attended U.C. San Diego for a Ph.D. in plant biology. He’s a botany professor in the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, where he lives with his wife and two children. He’s the author of several books, including a new guide to California’s flora, California Plants: A guide to our Iconic Flora (www.pacificstreetpublishing.com).  He also wrote the funniest and best-selling guide to California’s urban forest, A Californian’s Guide to the Trees among Us (Heyday, 2011). His writing has appeared in several magazines, including a regular column on tree diversity in Pacific Horticulture. He won the Cal Poly’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the International Society of Arboriculture Award for Excellence in Education. He is the California Coordinator of the American Forests Big Tree Registry, studies California’s native plants, and trees that escape cultivation, particularly Eucalyptus. He’s an avid woodworker, mason, and gardener.

In this episode we cover:

  • Cultivating curiosity in your students and peers
  • Photographing and studying the big trees of California
  • Is a palm tree a tree? And the Joshua tree, what is that….? Leave it to me to get into semantics… 😛
  • The importance of flora in an animal-centric society

Matt Ritter Online:

California Plants excerpt1-1.png

Resources and Book Suggestion From Matt:

California Big Tree Registry


Related ASM episode: #15 with Cindy Blain, Executive Director of forestry non-profit California ReLeaf

In Praise of Plants by Francis Halle