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CSI NY…sucks on botany

In the episode of CSI NY on right now, they identified trace evidence as coming from Eastern White Pine.  “Lindsay” runs outside to a tree, which she identifies as Eastern White Pine.  A tree with short needles (a couple mm long).  Eastern White Pine has long, flexible needles, 5-13 cm long.  Sure, it was a gymnosperm, but a white pine?  Maybe a juniper, not a pine of any sort.

As usual, botany gets short shrift.

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6 Responses

  1. I tried to get a look at the alleged white pine, but picture quality was too poor. Nevertheless, I had my doubts based on what I could see of the branches. One thing they did get right, though, was that you can’t see the red laser beam without putting some smoke or mist in its path.

  2. That’s one thing a DVR is good for – being able to go back, pause, go back…and get a really good look at what they’re calling a “white pine”. The branching structure was all wrong too.

    I really don’t think they would have dared do anything like that with any other scientific detail. I’d be pissed off, but that’s the thing – most people are “plant blind”, and assume that everyone else is too.

  3. We realize the tree in question is not an Eastern White Pine. First off, that particular tree does not grow in Southern California so we had to substitute. Second, the “tree” in the episode is actually not a real tree at all. The “tree” was built for the episode using the trunk from a maple tree with juniper branches inserted to create our “Eastern White Pine”. This is known as Movie Magic and is not meant as any form of disrespect towards botany or batanists.

  4. It was obvious that the trunk wasn’t a White Pine – the whole structure of the trunk was all wrong. But that was beside the point – I expect people to use what’s available to shoot a TV episode. My issue is that people are willing to substitute one conifer for another, even when they are in different Families. It’s like substituting a cat for a dog (actually it’s a lot worse, since the divergence between the Pine family and Cypress family is much deeper than the divergence between the Canids and Felids). It’s a sort of casual disregard that could only be born of “plant blindness”.

  5. Ian– I like your “plant blindness” idea, so true in real life as well as TV… Reminds me of the movie Dances with Wolves, years ago– that great scene of running through the “native” prairie full of introduced grasses!

    Wonder why they “had to substitute”? Why not just change the name of the plant to something local?

  6. Who the hell cares? It’s a television show. It doesn’t matter. Only people that have an interest in botany would care, and it’s rather arrogant and selfish to expect EVERYONE else to have the same interest and passion for botany as you. I mean, give me a break.

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