Dr. Catherine McNeur: Trees, Bugs, and Environmental History
Written by Madelyn Miller on March 31, 2018
Think of all the things you hate – is a tree included in that list? In this episode of Beyond Footnotes, we sit down with Dr. Catherine McNeur to discuss her recent research into the much-aligned ailanthus tree and how it became to be so hated.
Also known as the Tree of Heaven, and the tree alluded to in the title of Betty Smith’s 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the ailanthus came North America from China by way of the Kew Gardens in the 19th century, and has evolved from being a highly desirable shade tree to now being a symbol of urban blight, gaining the nickname “ghetto palm trees”.
From that conversation we expand into the larger question of what is environmental history and what can we learn from the ways we personify the nonhuman organisms around us?
More about Dr. Catherine McNeur: