All posts by zooplantman

Former Director of Horticulture, Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo. Zoo exhibit & landscape designer perversely fascinated by the doings of plants, animals, ecosystems and other things not requiring batteries
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Putting Defense First: Plants Reserve Richest Nectar For Defending Ants, Not For Pollinators

So-called ant-plants carefully manage the amount and sweetness of nectar produced on their flowers and leaves, a study shows.This enables them to attract ants – which aggressively deter herbivores – while also luring insects that will spread pollen. Click on title for full story.)

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Watching The Lights Go Out On Extinct Species: The Botanist’s Burden

Let’s say for 20 years you’ve been observing a tree on a fern-covered crag thousands of feet above sea level on an island in the Pacific. Then one day you hike up to check on the plant and find it dying. You know it’s the last one of its species, and that you’re the only witness to the end of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, the snuffing out of a line of completely unique genetic material. You might have to sit down and write a poem. Or at least bring a bit of the dead plant to a bar and raise a beer to its life. (Click on title for full story.)

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Invasive Plants And Invasive Earthworms: An Insidious Partnership

Earthworms affect competition among plants both indirectly, by modifying habitat, and directly, by selectively eating roots, seeds and seedlings. The changes they make in forest habitats could favor invasive plants in several ways. (Click on title for full story.)

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Thorns And Spines Did Not Develop On Plants For The Reasons You Thought

The overwhelming bulk of the scientific literature on the ecological and evolutionary purpose of thorniness (or, to use biologists’ preferred terminology, spinescence) has focused on the hypothesis that mammalian herbivores are the main target. That may have been a mistake. Over the years, studies of how well sharp deterrents discourage hungry mammals have returned mixed results. (Click on title for full story.)

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The Trees That Lean Towards The Equator… Wherever The Are Planted

We first noticed A. columnaris leaning south in California and Hawaii, where it is a common horticultural plant. Our observation from Australia, though, suggested that Araucaria columnaris lean north in the southern hemisphere. (Click on title for full study.)

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Some Plants Grow So Slowly They Require More Than One Botanist’s Lifetime For Proper Study

In 1974, a graduate student named David Inouye marked a small plant in an alpine meadow in Colorado with an aluminum tag. Forty-three years later, Inouye, now a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, is still waiting for it to flower. “I’m hoping I live long enough,” he says. (Click on title for full story.)

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Pollution Interferes With Plants’ Ability To Take Up CO2

The exceptionally high levels of surface ozone, aerosol particles, and other air pollutants in China are damaging plants and interfering with their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, according to a new study. (Click on title for full story.)

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What Happens After Invasive Plants Are Eradicated? It Will Never Be The Same

By the end of the three years of the study, the plant community in the plots where stiltgrass had been removed had diverged even further from the community present in the plots that had never been invaded at all (and from the ones were stiltgrass was allowed to remain). In other words, when the invaders left, the place changed even more than before. (Click on title for full story.)

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The Goats In The Trees And The Seeds They Spit

For goats, the fruits are a tasty treat worth climbing up to 30 feet into the branches to obtain. But the goats don’t like the large seeds. Like cows, sheep, and deer, goats re-chew their food after fermenting it for a while in a specialized stomach. While ruminating over their cud, the goats spit out the argan nuts, delivering clean seeds to new ground, wherever the goat has wandered. Gaining some distance from the parent tree gives the seedling a better chance of survival. (Click on title for full story.)

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Armenia’s Almost Lost Folk Medicine Reborn

Amasiatsi’s incredibly rich text advises on the uses of native Armenian plants in such depth that his writings continue to influence modern pharmacists, like Armen Sahakyan, a pharmacologist and botanical scholar who has been working at the Matenadaran Museum for the last several decades. A trained medical doctor ordained a deacon in 1997, Sahakyan has dedicated his life to the maintenance of Armenia’s sacred botanical traditions.(Click on title for full story.)