Top 10 plants: Increasing awareness of plants

Mary Hockenberry Meyer, Natalie Bumgarner, Andrew Pulte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Urbanization, lack of contact with the natural world, and growing up removed from agriculture has contributed to a void of knowledge relating to food and food production, along with a phenomenon known as plant blindness. We sought to change this lack of appreciation and understanding of plants by the creation of a “top 10” list of plants that have most shaped or influenced our respective states. Using the public interface of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the State Botanic Garden of Tennessee, we engaged the public by asking for their nominations of influential plants. The public was interested in proposing and guessing the “winning” 10 plants and learning why each plant was selected. In each state, a panel of experts used six criteria to make the final selections including: cultural or spiritual, economic or industrial, environmental, health, historical, landscape, and sustenance or food. After the results were announced, multiple institutions have held educational events using this theme, including state historical and horticultural societies, universities, botanic gardens, schools, Extension Master Gardeners, 4-H, Ag in the Classroom, and alumni associations. This article outlines how these educational campaigns were developed as well as the programs, events, and publications that were created to educate the public and the next generation about the critical importance of plants and how they contribute to our society, health, and well-being. As Peter Raven (Emeritus Director of the Missouri Botanic Garden) said when reviewing the book The 10 Plants that Changed Minnesota, “every state would benefit from a similar effort”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2329-2336
Number of pages8
JournalCrop Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Judy Hohmann, former Marketing Manager; Nate Kells, Marketing Coordinator for the MLA; Gail Brown Hudson for coauthoring the 10 Plants Teacher?s Handbook; Susan Davis Price for coauthoring the ?10 Plants that Changed Minnesota? website and book; and Diane M. Narem for her assistance in teaching the 10 Plant Teacher Workshops. In Tennessee, we are grateful for the support of the UTIA Marketing and Communications Department and the administrative staff of the UT Department of Plant Sciences.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


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