Gardeners and Nature lovers already appreciate the botanical wonders around us, but plants are more than floral beauties. We owe the air we breathe to them, all of our food, and most of our medicine, chemicals and housing. Animals from elephants to ants depend on plant-life. And the world's flora has an equally intimate relationship with the birds, insects, mammals and humans around them. Explore these relationships and find the latest botany discoveries through the links below. Check out the categories in the menu or try the search using the magnifying glass above.
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Epiphyte Communities Determined By Host Tree

The crowns of drought-deciduous trees, characterized by sunnier and drier microclimates, hosted fewer individuals and less diverse epiphyte assemblages. Differences were also observed at a functional level, e.g. epiphyte assemblages in deciduous trees had larger proportions of Crassulacean acid metabolism species and individuals. At the population level a drier microclimate was associated with lower individual growth and survival in a xerophytic fern.

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Do Ants Feed Bromeliads?

A new paper studies eight tank- and one tankless-bromeliad species and finds that leaf nitrogen concentrations are positively correlated with the presence of mutualistic ants, with the scale of the benefit depending on the identity of the associated ant species. A protocarnivorous tank-bromeliad not associated with mutualistic ants appears to obtain nitrogen from ant carcasses, but the results suggest that it is more advantageous for a bromeliad to obtain ant-derived nutrients (e.g. faeces, insect remains) via its roots than to use carnivory via its tank.

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What Is Responsible For The Disappearance Of California’s Big Trees?

California has lost half its big trees since the 1930s, according to a study to be published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—and climate change seems to be a major factor. The number of trees larger than two feet in diameter has declined by 50 percent on more than 46,000 square […]

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The Future Is Here: Non-Native Plants Already Dominate The Landscape

Ecologists typically think of invasive species as being introduced in one spot and gradually spreading out from there. But, we found that even species with only a handful of occurrences were distributed all across the U.S.,The future may already be here.

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Earth’s Vegetation 50-Million Years Ago Revealed At Last

They found something surprising — habitats lost dense tree cover and opened up much earlier than previously thought based on other paleobotanic studies. This is significant because the decline in vegetation cover occurred during the same period as cooling ocean temperatures and the evolution of animals with the type of teeth that feed in open, dusty habitats.

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“Mister Cocoa,” Using Horticulture To Save Chocolate

The industry desperately needs new cocoa varieties – plants better at resisting pests and disease, that produce more beans, that are more resilient in different environments. Most cocoa growers are subsistence farmers on tiny plots of a couple of hectares, in some of Africa’s poorest corners. They can’t afford to experiment. It’s up to the rest of the world to help.

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Biochar: Green Miracle or Not Living Up To The Promise?

But there are still many questions about biochar, particularly in terms of making sure that it is affordable and has positive effects. In some studies, the material has actually reduced yields. Part of the difficulty is that biochar can be produced from all kinds of biomass and at different temperatures and speeds, which leads to huge variation in the substance — and in results.

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Carnivorous Plant Exploits Ant Social Structure

By ‘switching off’ their traps for part of the day, pitcher plants ensure that scout ants can return safely to the colony and recruit nest-mates to the trap. Later, when the pitcher becomes wet, these followers get caught in one sweep. What looks like a disadvantage at first sight, turns out to be a clever strategy to exploit the recruitment behaviour of social insects.

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Controlling Invasive Plants… With Goats

Each country has its own invasive species and rampant plants with a tendency to take over. In most, the techniques for dealing with them are similar – a mixture of powerful chemicals and diggers. But in the US a new weapon has joined the toolbox in recent years – the goat.