First Flower

I found myself not being able to sleep late last night, so I turned on Channel 11 and saw they were running one of my favorite documentaries. First Flower is about the hunt to discover the origin of flowering plants. The grandmother, if you will, of many of the plants you find in our gardens today. First Flower is more than just a dry academic documentary, it is part botany class, part horticulture history and part garden porn. It has a lot of good information about the role of flowers, how and why they evolved, and what happens during the pollination process to that is easy to digest by amateur gardeners, like myself. There is even a segment on my favorite plant hunter, Ernest H. Wilson, who literally risked life and limb while in China looking for new plants to introduce.

I checked Hulu to see if the documentary was available there but it doesn’t seem like it has been uploaded to the Nova Channel but I did find a segment on YouTube.

In this segment Botanist Yin Kaipu and Dan Hinkley find a treasure trove of plants growing alongside a road in China. Pay attention to the reaction by Dan Hinkley who practically creams his pants over the number of genera found in a small patch.

You can read the transcript of First Flower here if you don’t catch it television.


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  • I missed seeing this special, will have to catch it ... and I was up at 2:30 AM this morning, probably could have caught it :) BTW one of my daughters stopped in your city today, she is riding the Amtrak to Portland, Oregon.

  • In reply to OhioMom:


    It airs pretty often, check your local PBS. Hope your daughter had a pleasant visit.

    @Carolyn Choi,

    No problem, I've never really had the urge to visit China but seeing what they have growing alongside the roads makes me want to go.

  • Wonderful video. China is such an intriguing country and civilization. I'm not surprised that so many of our plants, including the outstanding Magnolia Grandiflora, comes from there.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

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