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Sir Peter Crane Delivers 2018 ARS B.Y. Morrison Memorial Lecture at ASHS Conference

By Kim Kaplan
August 1, 2018

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2018—"On a planet dominated by people, the future of plants is in our hands” was the subject of paleobotanist Sir Peter Crane’s 2018 ARS Benjamin Y. Morrison Memorial Lecture delivered today at the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) annual conference in Washington.

Crane is an internationally recognized authority on plant evolution and plant diversity. He is also renowned for his leadership and concerns about the steady erosion of plant varieties—both species and populations—in the face of rapid global changes.

He is keenly interested in botanic gardens’ and arboreta’s efforts around the world to conserve and make use of plant diversity in sustainable ways. But he remains concerned that the fundamental importance of plants remains insufficiently recognized.

In 2004, Crane was knighted in the United Kingdom for his services to horticulture and conservation, especially for his leadership as director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and his initiatives to conserve the world’s threatened flora. This included increasing the public’s connection to the importance of conservation, the Millennium Seed Bank’s initial development and Kew’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site status.

During his presentation, Crane reviewed the current status of plant life diversity, the threats it faces and ongoing patterns of change.

“It remains to be seen whether we have the wisdom and will for meaningful action that will secure the future for plants, and for ourselves,” Crane said.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) established this memorial lectureship in 1968 to honor the memory of Benjamin Y. Morrison (1891–1966) and to recognize scientists who have made outstanding contributions to horticulture and other environmental sciences and to encourage the use of these sciences.

Morrison was a pioneer in horticulture and the first director of ARS’s U.S. National Arboretum in Washington. A scientist, landscape architect, plant explorer and breeder, author and lecturer, Morrison advanced the science of botany in the United States and fostered broad international exchange of ornamental plants.

For more information about the B.Y. Morrison Memorial Lecture, see

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.