Crime Pays But Botany Doesn't

Tony Santore


An antidote to the nausea caused by life in modern society via explorations of the cast of plant species composing the "living skin" of Planet Earth.

Available on


137 episodes

Living Soil Crusts With Corey Nelson

Intro is 11:00 Anybody who's spent any time studying or even observing plants in desert or seasonally arid environments is familiar with soil crusts and how bizarre and unique they can be, as well as the role they must be playing in the ecosystem - from providing a nurse substrate for a variety of cactus seedlings to germinate in to stabilizing the soil to adding organic material to what is otherwise rocky terrain to nitrogen fixation. It's an exceptional thing to suddenly realize that the entire ground beneath your feet is actually ALIVE. In this episode we talk with microbiologist Dr. Corey Nelson about the living soil crusts in arid environments and what the hell is going on with the multiple species of bacteria, fungi, archae and protists involved in this complex community of organisms that thrives where few other things can.

1h 28m
Mar 23
Relict Oaks, Sky Islands, Austin Texas Botany & Texas Madrones

In this episode we rant about pleistocene relict oaks growing on desert sky islands, paintbrush species in the desert, plant communities of the hill country West of Austin, how it's actually not that hard to grow 'Texas" Madrones, how silty sandy loams work great for cactus seedlings, doing CRIME PAYS plant ID classes on Patreon & much more.

1h 11m
Mar 16

Intro is 15:00 long. Jay LeSoleil is an activist, advocate and one of the two voices behind the F*CKING CANCELLED PODCAST. In this episode of Crime Pays we talk about "cancel culture", the bizarre and deranged ideological path that some elements of modern leftism have taken, 12-step programs, sobriety, identitarianism, how to actually create change, and the effect that social media has had on both left and right wing political movements.

1h 27m
Mar 09
Gesneriads with Dr. John Clark

Podcast starts after a 40 minute intro... Dr. John Clark studies the plant family Gesneriaceae (In the same Order as Salvias, Mints, and Penstemons... Lamiales). In this podcast we talk about this brilliantly colored often epiphytic tropical plant family and some of the wild sh*t that occurs in it (like poricidal anthers, you say?)...

2h 4m
Mar 06
What the @&#! is Going On With North American Railroads

In this episode we talk with my friend Ron Kaminkow, founding member of Railroad Workers United ( about just what the he11 has happened with North American Railroad Companies in the past five years and what effect it has had on railroad workers, shippers, and more importantly, the general public. We also discuss how the business policy known as "precision scheduled railroading" has given us a glimpse of a very deranged philosophy regarding American business practices and what this could possibly mean for other areas of the American economy. Check out for updates and more information.

1h 24m
Feb 24
Ricardo Ramirez aka Lizardskinn

Ricardo Ramirez aka Lizardskinn is a naturalist and photographer who has explored many of the remote areas of Northern Mexico, documenting cactus and reptile diversity with an emphasis on habitat. He has seen and documented many incredibly rare species of plants that most people will never get a chance to see in habitat. He can be found on IG at @lizardskinn Thumbnail photo by Ricardo Ramirez *note : when referring to which Sierra Madre is primarily composed of limestone, I stated Sierra Madre occidental (West) when I meant to say Oriental (East). Important to not f*CK this up! Much more volcanic geology than limestone in the West than the East! Sorry for the confusion!

1h 23m
Feb 22
Kill Your Lawn rehash

TRIGGER WARNING : This ENTIRE episode is about 40 minutes of inundation in the phenomenon that is the nasally, intensely-obnoxious Chicago accent. In this episode we do a quick rehash of recent filming of Kill Your Lawn in New Orleans, wrapping up eight episodes. We also discuss the difference between too much paht and a lot of paht, "embracing the swamp" and planting for clay-rich, water-logged soil and some of the species that will thrive in such conditions. We also discuss the leg wear known as Zubas, Mardi Gras parades, the Legendary Locomotive Engineer known as "The Commodore" of the Oakland Terminal and more.

Feb 20
A Conversation with Printmaker & Artist Roger Peet

Roger Peet is an artist, printmaker, organizer, & naturalist. IG = @toosphexy Link Page/store for ordering prints : Episodes can be listened to ad-free on the Patreon at

2h 8m
Feb 11
Peyote Ceremony & Esenbeckia

In this episode we talk about being in "the fitness center of da mind" as a goal of enlightenment, attending a peyote ceremony, being woo-ed to sleep by nightjars and woken up by kiskadees, foaming out over the rare Esenbeckia berlandieri (Rutaceae) of South Texas, creating habitat after you kill your lawn, what's it's like to live in an autoslum (daht cahm), and how to get more Americans enjoying the native plants of their local ecology.

1h 55m
Feb 06
2 Hour Plant Biology/Ecology Crash Course w/ Scott Zona

In this episode of Crime Pays we talk with Dr Scott Zona, author of a seminal new book on beginner's Botany ("A Gardener's Guide to Botany") about plants chemical defenses, night blooming plants, cyanide in plants, the bizarre weirdos that are Cycads, and much more.

2h 4m
Jan 22
South Florida Monologues

The beautiful bark of Poison Wood, "What the sh*t is a Hardwood Hammock?", Swamp Walking, Epiphytism, KILL YOUR LAWN, Corraloid roots and why nitrogen-fiing cyanobacteria need them, Tillandsia dungeon inside a cypress dome, OOOOOOOlitic Limestone, why roots splay out and crawl along the surface (ie they're growing on bare rock and don't have soil to sink into), Silver Palms (Coccothrinax argentata), Photosynthetic roots of epiphytic orchids, etc.

1h 16m
Jan 19
South Florida Native Plants w/LiliumByrd

An hour talk with Lilium Byrd about Florida Native Plants, rants about the ecological wreckage of South Florida, Hardwood Hammocks, Pine Rocklands, Florida Scrub Jays, & the cultural cesspool. We also talk about trying to cultivate native plant movements as a means of keeping down the figurative puke, why there aren't more native plant nurseries down here, and what it's like to get a rash from Metopium toxiferum.

1h 18m
Jan 12
Pyracantha Death, Obscene Birders, Western Interior Seaway

In this episode we hear a series of rants about the hideous living-concertina-wire that is Pyracantha, the Western Interior Seaway (RIP) and theamy fossils it produced in the Cretaceous limestone of Western North America, why shallow oceans produce more fossils than deep ones, permaculture projects in the desert, the coolest birding shirt ever made, dosing a botany conference, and more deranged and disjointed ranting then you can throw an Inoceramus fossil at.

1h 25m
Jan 03
Tasmania Rants

In this episode we spend two hours ranting about the Flora of Tasmania and why it acts like a time capsule for the relictual flora of Antarctica, tree-like Senecios, the genus Richea and the bizarre floral trait known as an operculum, the taxonomic circumscription of the family Myrtaceae, the act of ruining Christmas, terrestrial orchids mimicking female wasps in order to get pollinated, and more.

2h 13m
Dec 22, 2022
Talking Tasmania w/Matt Berger

To cut to the chase and skip the intro go to minute 45:00. In this episode Matt Berger and I talk about Tasmanian Botany and filming Tasmanian endemics, the Paleoendemism of the West half of Tasmania vs. the mainland Australian floristic affinities of the East.

2h 5m
Dec 17, 2022
Miguel de Salas & Tasmanian Botany

In this episode we talk all things Tasmanian Botany, on an island notab for being home to Gondwanan relict plants that provide us a glimpse of what parts of the Antarctic continent may have looked like 30 million years ago before it froze over. Nothofagus, Athrotaxis, Deceptive Orchids with a Pollination Hustle, and the world's tallest Flowering Plant all get mentioned here in this two hour conversation with the curator of botany at the Tasmanian Herbarium, Miguel de Salas.

2h 0m
Dec 04, 2022
A Conversation About Mycology, Psilocybe Diversity , & Citizen Science with Alan Rockefeller

In this episode we talk with the mycologist and notoriously kind human being Alan Rockefeller about mycology, Psilocybe diversity, getting people interested in biodiversity & the biosphere, turning a sedan into a DNA lab, teaching cops about fungal diversity (against their own will as unintentional pupils), and how to teach yourself mycology. This episode is ad-free on the Crime Pays Patreon.

1h 56m
Nov 28, 2022
Cultivating Peyote as a Means of Ex-Situ Conservation : A Conversation with the "Peyote Lorax"

In this episode we talk with a gentleman who cultivates Peyote for the Native American Church. We discuss his efforts to protect wild populations of the plant by teaching NAC members to grow the plant from seed as a form of ex-situ conservation and to ensure that the species will be available for indigenous use despite declining populations in habitat and declining harvests among the Peyoteros. Ex-situ cultivation of Lophophora williamsii - Peyote - is a means of preserving it for use by the Native American Church. As many botanists in the US and Mexico who study Chihuahua Desert ecology already know - populations of the plant in habitat are declining due to poaching - and to a greater extent - land clearance. Leonardo aka "The Peyote Lorax" informs us of his cultivation methods, his history with the plant, and the ceremonial use of the plant by indigenous peoples of North America for the past 6,000 years. We talk about his work with the Morningstar Conservancy, his efforts to teach his fellow indigenous users of Peyote how to establish and grow Peyote in states like Arizona and New Mexico where the plant is not native but where it can be grown in the ground with winter protection, etc. This was a great conversation and I'm thankful to Leo for making it happen. Your continuing support helps enable this podcast.

2h 28m
Nov 18, 2022
A 3 Hour Conversation with Hamilton Morris

In this episode we talk with well-known chemist and journalist Hamilton Morris about a variety of topics, including the current status of Psychedelic legalization, Ibogaine (Tabernanthe iboga, Apocynaceae) ethnobotany, chemical synapomorphies of plants, Salvia divinorum, understanding organic chemistry, understanding the evolution of secondary metabolites of plants, and more. Thanks to Hamilton Morris for editing this and cleaning it up so the sound quality wasn't as rough as my original recording. Please support him and the work he's doing by joining his Patreon : Your contributions - as well as your tolerance for the shitty ads that occur during it - help support this podcast. Thank you

3h 6m
Nov 15, 2022

In this episode we have a 2 hour conversation with Alexis Nicole, aka Black Forager about everything from how she got started learning to use wild plants as food to Eastern Forest Biomes to botanizing the rustbelt.

2h 3m
Nov 09, 2022
Peyote Gardens & Killer Bees

In this episode we discuss flowering West Texas Peyote populations, riding freight trains through Winslow Arizona, keying out species using a Flora, what the shit is allele frequency and what are species concepts, Chihuahua Desert blooms, getting picked up hitch-hiking by drunk nutjobs, keying out microcharacters in herbarium specimens, Desert Blazing stars, Remembering the Western Interior Seaway, and more, all on a series of long winding disjointed rants.

1h 52m
Nov 04, 2022
West Texas October

In this episode, we rant about creepy lights in the sky and Elon Musk, the Conflict Algorithm (™), creating habitat in your ugly front yard, Sticky Plants in San Diego County, Montezuma Cypress in Central Texas, making love to Tucker Carlson's Neckfat, doin' PAHT with Al Scorch, Fall Blooming Composites, etc

1h 34m
Oct 28, 2022
Southern California Landscaping Nightmare, Cholla As a Weapon, Borderwall Botany, etc

In this episode we rant about the horror of common Southern California horticultural atrocities, having cholla branches thrown at you, the burgeoning native plant movement and convincing home owners to kill their stupid lawns, the endangered Baja Birdbush, Ornithostaphylos oppositifolia, Tecate Cypress, Gabbro soils, eating Psychedelics in the Colorado (Sonoran) Desert, and more.

1h 12m
Oct 19, 2022
New York City

Intro sound from the Cactus Forests of Puebla. Covid Party. Rants against Reagan. Causing a scene at the American Museum of Natural History. Perpetually Scowling White Women. Ecology of Hydrothermal Vents, etc

1h 16m
Oct 05, 2022
Bromeliads to Blow Your Mind

Endemic to the Americas (save for one species), the Bromeliad Family occupies almost all the ecological niches that a plant family can - Tropical Rainforests, Deserts, the Alpine Zone, Mesic Forests. In this Episode We speak with Tom Givnish, an expert in the Family Bromeliaceae who has done extensive fieldwork and research studying these plants in the diversity of habitats in which they grow. This episode is akin to a plant systematics class on this extremely cool group of plants.

2h 45m
Sep 18, 2022
Cactus Evolution, Carribean Cactus Forests, & Tree Prickly Pears

Initial intro rant is 12 minutes and rambles on about the Prednisone worsening ADD, getting smacked in the face with Poison Ivy while filming magic mushrooms in Mexico etc. A conversation with Dr. Lucas Majure from Florida Natural History Museum about evolution in the Cactus Family, Hummingbird-Pollinated Tree Prickly Pears, why one genus of Cactus wears a damn Fez (just like the shriners), the subtle nuances of Dogtooth Karst, Weird-Ass plants from Cuba that only grow on a certain soil type, and much more.

1h 58m
Sep 14, 2022
Cactus Forests of Puebla, Cloud Forests of Oaxaca

A two hour rant about the incredible Cactus Forests of Southern Mexico, the Cloud Forests of Oaxaca, Cool Customs Agents, Drying Herbarium Sheets witta blowdryer nice, Fleabag Hotels, and much more.

1h 57m
Sep 07, 2022
Genome Sequencing Magic Mushrooms, Democratizing Science, Oaxaca Cloud Forests

In this episode, recorded in the cloud forests of Oaxaca, we discuss the entheome project, which centers around genome sequencing of entheogens as well as many of their sympatric species of fungi, plants and microbes that also grow in the ecosystems these entheogens are native to. We talk about democratizing science and DNA sequencing, and we talk about what some practical applications of this science are and how to make it accessible to people who DON'T want to take out 150 grand in student loans in order to learn it.

Sep 05, 2022