I think I’ve mentioned him previously, but this is a good intro for those who are unfamiliar with his work.
On the squat scrublands of a ranch property in Starr County, Texas, a few miles from the Mexico border, the ground is specked with a constellation of gray-green, quarter-size buttons of the cactus Lophophora williamsii—peyote—which contain the oldest psychedelic medicine known to man. A mystic light washes through the scene and the air is hushed, until a voice in a thick Chicago accent breaks the silence….
Welcome to a fairly standard Saturday in the world of Crime Pays but Botany Doesn’t, a YouTube channel where Santore, a 39-year-old ex-punk and former freight train engineer who is self-taught in his field, films the trips he takes in search of some of the rarest plants on the planet. He exposes these botanical misfits to a quarter of a million subscribers—even more if you include his audience on Instagram, TikTok, and the Crime Pays podcast.
Among Santore’s fans are plant geeks, outdoor enthusiasts, and weed growers who were wormholed into Santore’s channel while looking up plant propagation. Much of his audience, no doubt, shares his worldview: in a landscape of American cultural decline, the study of natural sciences and ecological systems are all that make sense right now. Santore is turned on to the outdoors because he’s turned off by everything else. One clip that went viral a few years back features Santore attempting to save an orphaned coyote pup. In another, he leans on a strong Inland North dialect to usher a rattlesnake off the road. Aside from the hits, Santore’s long-form videos offer a panoramic botanical and geological breakdown of a location, explaining au courant topics like plant speciation and biogeography, alongside profane rants about climate change and the state of things in general.