A self-taught, Chicago-born botanist went viral on dat dere internet today, a month after he visited and recorded videos right here in Humboldt County.

Joey Santore, who’s a freight train operator by trade, exploded onto the interwebs after one of his informative plant videos went viral on Reddit, racking up nearly half-a-million views overnight.

Santore describes his YouTube channel as “a low-brow, crass approach to plant ecology as muttered by a misanthropic Chicago Italian.”

The Oakland resident visited Humboldt only a month ago, where he recorded three educational videos (embedded in this article) and stopped by the Six Rivers Masonic Lodge in Bayside to give a “Blue Collar Botany” presentation.

Although his videos are packed with information, including highly-esoteric plant taxonomy, Santore told the Outpost this afternoon that he has no formal education in the field. Instead, he chose to spend the last decade learning about botany through reading, visiting botanical gardens and fieldwork.

“I have absolutely no academic credentials and prefer to keep it that way,” Santore said.

Despite his lack of a botany degree, Humboldt Baykeeper’s Jen Kalt, a trained botanist, watched a few of his videos and said he seems to know his stuff.

In his videos of Humboldt County, the humorous, informative and often opinionated plant enthusiast travels to the hills east of Humboldt Bay, where he classifies a manzanita bush, as well as some dainty and beautiful “fuckin’ lilies.” He also discusses invasive grasses and the effects cattle have on native plant life.

If you love plant taxonomy and Chicago accents, you can do a lot worse than spending the next few hours of your life watching all of Santore’s videos. And keep an eye out for future videos, as he says he may visit Humboldt again sometime soon.

You can also follow Santore on his iNaturalist page, or by listening to his podcast “Crime Pays but Botany Doesn’t.”