Hello, I’m Charles Boissavy and I’m a Ph.D. student at California Botanic Garden. I grew up in the LA area where I frequently ventured to places inside and outside the city to immerse myself in the California wildlife. I visited various botanic gardens, exploring the nature trails in Palos Verdes, and hiking up the Santa Monica Mountains. Since I was little, I have been fascinated with learning why things are the way they are today. Seeing the vast diversity of plant life, I want to understand the process of evolution and how it explains the diversity of life we see today. My fascination with floral diversity led me to pursue a Bachelor’s in Biology at Oberlin College. When I was home, I volunteered at the South Coast Botanic Garden where I helped maintain plant communities and participated in community assistance at the gardens. During my senior year at Oberlin College, I investigated the evolutionary relationships between certain Phacelia species to see how many times the adaptation to living in gypsum soils emerged. I came to the California Botanic Garden to do further research exploring adaptations of plants to different environments.
My research at CalBG involves looking into the diversity of the varieties in naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum), island buckwheat (Eriogonum grande), and related species. Naked buckwheat has 14 currently recognized varieties with varying soil type preferences and flower colors across the California Floristic Province and somewhat beyond. Island buckwheat lives on the California Channel Islands and in Baja California; most varieties have white flowers but one has vibrant red flowers, the famous red-flowered buckwheat. My Ph.D. project is to study the diversification of soil adaption and flower color traits between the varieties of these two species and their closest relatives. I am excited to look into how these plants have adapted to the various ecosystems of California and what we can learn from them!