But when plants mess up the tree of life, we know we have a problem.
Here’s Nova’s accidental take on the problem (April 17, 2007):
NARRATOR: Now with the assurance of DNA insight, the family tree of living flowering plants has largely been written.
The old family tree was now in for a major pruning. Roses were found to be closely related to squash, strawberries to marijuana, this meat-eating pitcher plant to China’s famous rhododendrons.
For centuries water lilies were thought to be nearly twins with the lotus—no longer.
MARK CHASE: This, believe it or not, is the closest living relative of the lotus. This is the London plane tree or sycamore. As you can see, this is not a little water plant, this is a big tree.
ANDREW DARRAGH (Horticulturist, Kew Gardens) …driving me nuts!
NARRATOR: Andy Darragh is in charge of tending to a garden at Kew that is organized by the old family tree of plants, it’s called the Order Beds.
He’s got the somewhat overwhelming job of trying to bring order to the new order.
ANDY DARRAGH: We’re in this weird limbo period. I’m trying to not only do a job of gardening, mowing, edging, and weeding constantly, but I’ve also got to keep myself up to date. And I’ve also got to try and understand plant science and botany. I wish it was simpler, but it’s not.
The new order doubtless makes sense, but it is not Darwin’s order.