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Science Podcasts

Discover the surprising world of plants with science and stories from Australia's oldest scientific institution. Branch Out is your backstage pass into labs, Botanic Gardens, the Australian bush and the minds of experts who are protecting the future of plants.

Discover the surprising world of plants with science and stories from Australia's oldest scientific institution. Branch Out is your backstage pass into labs, Botanic Gardens, the Australian bush and the minds of experts who are protecting the future of plants.




Discover the surprising world of plants with science and stories from Australia's oldest scientific institution. Branch Out is your backstage pass into labs, Botanic Gardens, the Australian bush and the minds of experts who are protecting the future of plants.






(02) 9231 8122


Plants that heal

We're in the middle of once-in-a-century pandemic and coming into peak flu-season in the southern hemisphere. Medicine is on our minds and surprisingly, many developed in the last century were derived from naturally occurring molecules found in plants, bacteria, and fungi. In this episode you'll discover some of mother nature's miracles, the latest in cutting-edge medicinal cannabis research and traditional Chinese herbal medicine - treating everything from dementia to endometriosis. You'll...


Bushfire impacts, recovery & outlook

Australia is a no doubt a sunburnt country and the unique landscape shares a long and important relationship with fire. But even the most fire-adapted plants were devastated by the intense summer bushfires. While new growth is emerging and cutting-edge science is saving species - there's still a long road to recovery for the flora that went up in flames.


Amazing plant-based inventions

Did you know aspirin was derived from salicin found in the bark of several varieties of Willow tree? Plants are the source of so many amazing past and new inventions we need in our lives. In this episode you'll discover how scientists are utilising the waste material from banana plants to create biodegradable food packaging to combat the plastic pollution problem. You'll also learn how researchers are potentially turning cashew nut shells into more environmentally friendly sunscreen.


No Plants No Wine

Even though Australia is new to the wine-making world stage it has produced really iconic drops and inventions such as cask wine and screw caps for bottles. But how did grape vines get here? Discover the art, history and science of wine-making and how it all started down under.


Banking our bush foods

Australian plants have been used by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years and now people all over the world are finding a connection to country through cooking with bush foods. Unfortunately, some of these plants are endangered and scientists are collecting and banking seeds to protect their future both on our forks and in the wild.


Climate change & future-proofing plants

Climate change is the defining issue of our time and 47% of Australia's vegetation could be impacted by an increase in mean annual temperature by 2070. Three passionate scientists share how they are trying to understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change on flora and our future. You'll discover how complex climate models are created, the power of harnessing digital plant data and how DNA research can create resilient habitats.


Deceptive and dangerous stingers

The world's most painful stinging trees call Australia home. Tiny silica hairs on attractive heart shaped leaves deliver a painful toxin that feels like a hot acid burn and being electrocuted all at once. In severe cases, this can lead to shock, and even death. Explore this amazing example of plant defence as a range of scientists share their stinging experience and what they’re doing to protect the future of these surprisingly important rainforest plants.


Going Off Track

Get ready to pick Persoonias from emu poo as Branch Out features an episode from ABC’s dedicated nature program - Off Track. Persoonias are an endangered group of plants that need complex processes to germinate. Could the mystery lynchpin to save them be found in an emu's guts? Go Off Track and join Presenter Ann Jones to find out!


Plants in Space

Longer space missions and sustaining human life on other planets depends on space horticulture. So grab your spacesuit and get ready to lift off with NASA astronaut Dr Gregory Chamitoff and scientists from the Australian PlantBank and CSIRO to explore the future of plants in space.


Unlocking the power of plant data

The largest herbarium imaging project in the southern hemisphere is underway at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney with over 1.43 million botanical specimens becoming high-definition digital images. Discover how the images will protect the valuable collection and help researchers around the world make new discoveries to advance science and conservation.


Plant vs Human Intelligence

Do you need a brain to sense the world around you, remember or learn? Apparently not. Dive into the marvellous work of evolutionary ecologist Dr Monica Gagliano whose pioneering experiments are proving plants are learning behaviour in ways we never thought possible. But that doesn't mean our brains aren't special. Cognitive neuroscientist Dr Muireann Irish beautifully articulates how some of the complex processes such as memory work in our brain and what is still a mystery. One thing is for...


No Plants No Chocolate

This is your golden ticket into the sweet and serious side of chocolate making. After all, chocolate doesn’t grow on trees! Well, it's only part of the story. Discover how plant diseases are threatening the future supply of chocolate with Professor David Guest, a plant pathologist from the University of Sydney. You’ll also learn about what it takes to make this delicious treat from bean to bar inside the bustling kitchen of ‘the chocolate artisan’.


Exploring Aboriginal culture in Sydney

Discover over 60,000 years of culture, plant uses and personal stories from Aboriginal people in Sydney, Australia. On the land the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is located the traditional owners are the Cadigal people and they have a unique affinity with Sydney’s harbour and lands. You'll also hear from a proud Dharawal elder and his daughter who are keeping their unique Sydney culture alive through storytelling, advocacy, art and research.


Mistletoe: a festive & freaky parasite

Mistletoe is in love potions, ancient medicines to ward off epilepsy and ulcers and even a Justin Bieber Christmas song. They actually lodge themselves on other plants to steal nutrients and the bizarre adaptation started in Australia – the true home of mistletoe with about 90 different sap-sucking species. Discover why so many people throughout the ages are fascinated by the mystery and magic of these paradoxical parasites.


Nature play keeps the doctor away

Who do you think spends the least amount of time outdoors: Chickens, inmates or kids? Unfortunately, it's kids. Cat Stevens already posed the question 'where do the children play?' in the 60's and the situation has continued to get worse - leading to all sorts of physical and mental problems. However, there's a growing movement to combat this epidemic at various forest schools and kindergartens around the world, including one right here in the heart of Sydney.


Bizarre BEE-haviour & snotty gobbles

Bees predate the dinosaurs and they've been doing some crazy and complex things inside the hive. From using a 'waggle dance' to communicate where food is, to making 'bee bread' using pollen. It's a short and sweet life for most, but be warned, there are a couple of gruesome ways to die... Worldwide we are experiencing a decline in pollinator numbers, which means more than just losing our honey. European honey bees and over 1500 native Australian bees support our food crops and native plants,...


Cow paddock to biggest botanic garden

How was a cow paddock in Western Sydney transformed into the biggest botanic garden in Australia? And what's the difference between a park and a botanic garden anyway? Join the legendary Graham Ross and the Garden's Curator John Siemon as they share the incredible story of the Australian Botanic Garden and its best features.


Branch Out season 3 sneak peek

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Plants with Bite: sticky, sneaky & freaky

What makes a plant a killer? Join Greg Bourke, one of Australia's foremost experts on carnivorous plants, and discover the different tactics these murderous munchers use to lure, trap and trick their prey. You'll also hear from Jimmy Turner, the creator and visionary behind the current Plants with Bite exhibition at The Calyx inside the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. See the sticky, sneaky, freaky and free floral display for yourself. If you dare...


What's a herbarium?

You might think the National Herbarium of NSW is where we keep our finest coriander, mint and basil. Actually, this vital facility at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney contains 1.43 million plant specimens used for scientific research, and some are almost 250 years old! Walk through the corridors of this 165-year-old building and discover this historical hub and heart of plant sciences.