Category Archives: Amazing Plants

When Times Get Tough Plants May Simply Go To Sleep….For Decades

Dormancy in seeds has been widely known about and studied for decades but the phenomenon of dormancy within plants that have left the seed stage behind and embarked upon adult life is far less well-known and understood. (Click on title for full story.)

Plant Roots Alter The Soil To Suit Their Needs

During the growing season–and beyond–there are delicate interactions between each plant and the surrounding soil. All of these interactions affect the amount of water that is captured by soil and absorbed by plants. Production of exudates also affects how well the plants can pull vital nutrients out of the soil, and even affects the soil in the rhizosphere. (Click on title for full story)

Newly Discovered Orchid Strategy: Let Mushrooms Do The Work

The non-photosynthesizing orchid species Gastrodia pubilabiata mimics rotting mushrooms or fermented fruit, and is pollinated by fruit flies who mistakenly lay their eggs in its flowers. If there are rotting mushrooms near the orchid, its pollination rate increases. As well as using mushrooms to attract insect pollinators, G. pubilabiata survives by absorbing nutrients from the fungal hyphae of mushrooms. This is the first time a plant has been discovered to depend on mushrooms both above and below ground. (Click on title for full story.)

Not By Trees Alone: It Takes An Underground Ecosystem To Clean Polluted Sites

Using advanced techniques for analyzing the simultaneous expression of genes from multiple organisms in an ecosystem, the scientists examined the roots of willows grown on a polluted site in suburban Montreal. They found that complex interactions among a range of ectomycorrhizal fungi — which form symbiotic sheaths around the roots of plants — and certain bacteria appeared to drive the degradation of hydrocarbons in the ground. (Click on title for full story.)

Did Flowering Plants First Appear On An Ancient Continent Now Gone?

The recent recognition of Zealandia, a 94% submerged continent in the east of Australia, could explain the discrepancy between molecular clocks and fossil records about the age of angiosperms, supporting the old Darwinian hypothesis of a “lost continent” to explain the “abominable mystery” regarding the origin and rapid radiation of flowering plants. (Click on title for full story.)

Plants Manipulate Their Soil Microbiome For Their Own Benefit

By controlling the types of microbes that thrive around their roots, plants could be trying to protect themselves from less friendly pathogens while promoting other microbes that stimulate nutrient supply. (Click on title for full story.)

Why Are Some Plants Rare? Look To Their Ability To Adapt To Soil Microbiome

Rare plant species suffer more from disease than commoner species. The fact that rare species are more susceptible to attack by micro-organisms living in the soil, such as fungi and bacteria, may in fact be one of the reasons they are rare. Biologists have been trying to work out why some species are rare, while others are common, since Darwin’s time and a new study provides a possible answer. (Click on title for full story.)

Leaving Nothing To Chance, Flower Uses Catapult To Hurl Pollen Onto Bees

Flowers are just about the last thing in nature you’d list as fast, but the mountain laurels’ filaments are an exception. The defining characteristic of the flowers, which are native to the eastern United States, is a series of 10 arms or filaments that act like catapults, flinging pollen into the air with startling speed. (Click on title for full story & video)

Newly Discovered Rare And Endangered Tree May Be Savior Of Its Insect Imperiled Cousins

It’s not every day—or even every decade—that a new species of conifer is found in the world’s temperate forests. But late last year, researchers announced a new species of hemlock tree from Korea, proving that even our best-studied forests still hold surprises. The new tree could help save one of its better-known cousins—a North American hemlock species being annihilated by a voracious insect. But the new find is so rare that it’s already being considered for an endangered-species listing itself. (Click on title for full story.)

Overheated Australian Trees Rewrite The Book On Photosynthesis With Unique Self-Cooling Method

The year-long experiment showed that trees continue to release water through their leaves as an evaporative cooling system during periods of extreme heat, despite the carbon-fixing process of photosynthesis grinding to a halt. Previously, scientists believed that photosynthesis and transpiration – the process of releasing water – were linked, meaning one would not occur without the other. (Click on title for full story.)