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The Palm House at London’s Kew Gardens, completed in 1848, looks like a steamship plowing through a sea of green. The metaphor is apt because the explorers of that era would compete by sailing home from foreign travels with the most bizarre species they could find and bringing them to Kew. One highlight, for example, is the Madagascan suicide palm, which flowers once in 50 years then promptly expires. The Palm House’s oldest plant, an Encephalartos altensteinii palm, was picked


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Nine

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