Carlos Magdalena

Tropical botanical horticulturist at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The “Plant Messiah” and his lifelong obsession with nature’s beauty and wisdom

Share episode:

Email updates:

Join the mailing list today to receive the latest episode directly in your inbox.

Episode description:

In this episode of The Internationalist, host Julio Bruno is joined by Carlos Magdalena, tropical botanical horticulturist at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London. 

In this in-depth conversation, Carlos shares his childhood memories and true inspirations for becoming a horticulturist, for example, Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, who was a Spanish doctor, a naturalist, a self-taught biologist, and a broadcaster. Moreover, moving out to London made him conscious of the link between humans and destruction, especially thoughtless destruction of the planet, which is an undeniable issue in today’s environment.

Carlos claims that plants are not what people think they are – unlike inanimate objects, plants communicate using chemicals and fungi present in their roots, which is more complex than human communication. He argues that it takes at least several years of observation to understand how plants behave.

Expressing his obsession with horticulture, Carlos explains how it allowed him to save the small water lily, which turned out to be the last 5 plants on the planet. By breaking the status quo and challenging science, Carlos shares his belief that there always has to be a way to save a plant by a thorough check-up of the influencing factors.

Carlos puts plants as the source of philosophy and art, which reflects the creation of Buddhism (and a major role of the lotus flower), or impressionism by Monet painting water lilies. Therefore, he goes on to say that we need to stop the extinction of plant species, which is caused by our excessive farming and answers the question “what is progress?”.

Finally, he reveals his favourite places in the world and explains why they are so important to him.

Created & produced by: Podcast Partners
Published: Jun 1, 2022

Also streaming on these platforms:
Apple Podcasts
Amazon Music
Google Podcasts