Nature’s Depths

Walking through nature with John Palka, a neuroscientist who loves plants and ponders big questions

Visiting bumblebee

The Intimate Life of a Hollyhock Flower


The back wall of the house where we spend each summer is lined with plants that have been among my favorites since my childhood—hollyhocks (Alcaea, most often A. rosea, Family Malvaceae). The stems grow tall enough to project above the rain gutters. The buds at the top give way to open flowers below, and then to maturing fruits near the bottom. Every morning bumblebees arrive to frolic in the flowers, flitting from one to another. A garden paradise awaiting a close look!

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Luminary Loppet ice xylophone

A World of Molecules


Both living things and the non-living world consist of molecules. The molecules that make up each one of us are largely the same as those that make up every other person and animal on the planet. Molecules make up everything in the world of our experience.

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Milkweed seed pod opening, Prairie Oaks Institute

In the Autumn of the Year


“Autumn is a season of great beauty, but it is also a season of decline: the days grow shorter, the light is suffused, and summer’s abundance decays toward winter’s death. Faced with this inevitable winter, what does nature do in autumn? She scatters the seeds that will bring new growth in the spring—she scatters them with amazing abandon.”

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