Plant Talk: Endangered Plants Find New Life in Ebony G. Patterson's Coming Exhibition

The Earth is in a constant process of turning over from old to new. This summer’s art exhibition of Ebony G. Patterson’s work reminds us that death, decay and loss make way for regeneration and new life. Extinction has always been a part of this natural process. Often, extinction is a complex progression, with many factors that converge to wipe out a species, including natural disasters, changing climates, and natural selection. Today, however, the cycle of natural extinction is off-balance. Over the last several hundred years, once-constant extinction rates have skyrocketed to somewhere between 100 and 1,000 times the baseline. Instead of the familiar factors, recent extinctions have been caused almost exclusively by human impact on the landscape, whether through the introduction of invasive flora and fauna, or through habitat destruction due to agricultural or urban expansion. And that’s just the extinctions we know of—it’s likely we have lost many more plants and fungi that we didn’t even know existed in the first place.


Our current rate of extinction is operating too quickly for the other half of the process, the speciation of new organisms, to keep up. Instead, we are experiencing accelerated loss of biodiversity at a terrifying rate, endangering our ecosystems and ultimately, our place in them.


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May 24, 2023