Category Archives: Amazing Plants

What Makes Beets Red May Change Medicine

Scientists do not know exactly why this ability helped beets thrive. While some research suggests betalains may help plants weather stress, perhaps their primary usefulness is that humans — and presumably other creatures, like pollinators — love the way they look. Beyond questions of color, the research has implications for medicine.

The Very First Trees Were Unlike Anything Alive Today

This growth strategy has not been seen in any other tree in Earth’s history. It’s crazy that the oldest trees also had the most complex growth strategy, (Click on title for full story.)

The Secret Colors Flowers Create: But How? And Why?

Only a few flowers, like cornflowers and Himalayan blue poppies, have achieved true blue, and all by using special chemical tricks like adding metals to their pigments, or making their petals more alkaline. “All of this is chemically quite difficult and not many species have evolved the enzymes to do it,” says Beverley Glover from the University of Cambridge. “Even with genetic modification, people have managed to make purple, bluish roses, but true blue isn’t happening.” So imagine her surprise when she found that many flowers have secret blue halos in their flowers. (Click on title for full story.)

How Hot Does Your Pepper Grow? Depends On The Weather

Thus, different populations of chili plants are making fitness trade-offs between pungency and non-pungency based on local water availability: wetter environments supported a higher percentage of pungent plants, whereas drier areas had significantly fewer pungent plants. (Click on title for full story.)

The Amazing Moringa Tree: Medicine, Food, Fertilizer. What Can’t It Do?

If plants could be superheroes, the Moringa (Moringa oleifera) tree would be one of them. Although native to the foothills of the Himalayas in India, moringa can thrive in most tropical and subtropical regions. It is drought tolerant, grows rapidly, has leaves that can be used as a biofertiliser, and has seeds that can help purify water. Today, moringa is most commonly found in India and the Philippines but its cultivation is increasing throughout Asia, Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean. Even more interesting about this tree, is that it’s a food, a vegetable, and a medicine. Every part of the tree can be consumed; leaves and young fruits (pods) as food; and the seeds, bark, flowers, and roots as medicine. (Click on title for full story.)

Newly Discovered Orchid Smells Like Champagne

Johan and his team set out to see the orchid and it took them four days to travel to the site, on the western side of the Tsaratanana Mountains, from the Madagascan capital Antananarivo. The trip was in Johan’s words a ‘gamble’ because the plant only flowers for a month or so during the rainy season and flowering could easily have been missed. Johan says there are a couple of hundred Cynorkis christae visible along the road where the orchid was discovered, growing on steep slopes and rock faces. “It has caused an immense amount of amusement to the people living in the area, with so many people taking such an interest in the plants,” says Johan. “It is like a group of people suddenly studying the daisies growing in your front lawn.” (Click on title for full story.)

Algae That Survive In Deserts Hold Valuable Secrets

In the future, microalgae could be used to make an oil that represents an alternative to palm oil; this would reduce the demand for palm tree plantations, which pose a major threat to the natural environment. Moreover, understanding how microalgae can colonize a desert region will help us to understand the effects of climate change in the region. (Click on title for full story.)

Is This What The Earliest Flower Looked Like?

Though the team’s reconstructed ancestral flower doesn’t look radically different than many modern flowers, it does have a combination of traits not found today. Like many of today’s flowers, the putative ancestor contained both male and female parts on the same blossom. And the arrangement and numbers of its petals and its organs that shed and receive pollen all fall within the range of its modern descendants—no one trait stands out as obviously ancient. But no one current flower matches its form exactly, either. One discovery that will surprise some researchers is that its petals and other organs were organized in concentric circles in groups of three, rather than in spirals, (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

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.)

0213001849

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.)