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Gardens and Tonic: Marvelous Maples: The 60 Million-Year Journey of the Genus Acer

April 22 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Join Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Swarthmore College Jake J. Grossman on this fascinating botanical journey! Over the last 60 million years, the genus Acer (maples) has radiated from its origins in present-day China to include roughly 160 species spread across the temperate north, with distinct maple floras occurring in East Asia, Europe and Western Asia (Eurasia), and North America. Originating under warm, wet conditions in which there was unlikely ice found anywhere on Earth, the maples diversified and radiated across these three continental bioregions over a period of gradual climatic cooling and drying culminating in the cyclic Ice Ages of the recent past. They are now confronted with the rapidly warming and more drought-prone conditions engendered by human-caused climate change. This talk will survey the amazing diversity in form that has resulted from this evolutionary journey, focusing on some important species found in local environments and in the Scott Arboretum’s living collections. Jake will also share some results from his study of climate change resilience of maples from across the genus’s Northern Hemispheric distribution. This talk draws on Jake’s 2020 essay in the Arnold Arboretum’s Arnoldia magazine.


More about Jake J. Grossman, PhD

Jake is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Swarthmore College, where he teaches courses in ecology, plant biology, and conservation biology. Growing up in the Sonoran Desert, Jake fell in love with plants and became fascinated with biodiversity. This passion stayed with him through his studies at Oberlin College, the University of Washington, and the University of Minnesota and a two-year service as an agroforestry extensionist in eastern Paraguay with the US Peace Corps. Prior to coming to Pennsylvania, Jake studied the internationally renowned maple collection at Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum through an independent postdoctoral fellowship, work he continues at Swarthmore. He lives in college housing on the grounds of the Scott Arboretum with his husband and their rescue dog. Jake believes that protecting biodiversity should go hand in hand with cherishing all dimensions of human diversity and taking immediate action to mitigate climate change.


Gardens and Tonic is a series of virtual webinars with horticulture professionals. Grab your favorite beverage and join Julie Jenney from the Scott Arboretum and a featured horticulture professional for plant-related topics, adventures, and stories – as well as design-focused talks on private and public gardens. Time will be set aside to answer your questions.

Registration is free but required. Participants must have Zoom downloaded on their computer and be comfortable using it. The webinar link will be included in the confirmation email received after registering online.


April 22
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


Virtual Meeting