Category Archives: Amazing Plants

0213001849

Redwoods Tell Surprising Climactic History That Suggests A Difficult Future

“This long record is really now painting a new picture that drought is probably more common than we thought in the tree ring records,” Dawson says. “So the redwoods are telling us a new drought story.” Embedded in the tree ring data is evidence of not one but three distinct cycles ranging from the yearly to the centennial. The most familiar, the El Niño-La Niña cycle, takes place over a few years and involves dramatic changes to the pattern of winds and water temperatures across the Equatorial Pacific. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a decades-long cycle in the Northern Pacific in which the waters off the West Coast fluctuate between warmer and cooler surface temperatures. The longest cycle the team found spans over a century and potentially involves wind patterns that connect the North Pacific with the North Atlantic. Dawson says the redwood cores hold the first record of all three cycles. The tree ring records show that California is caught in the middle of climatic cycles that are so long, we’ve been ignorant of them until recently. What it also means is that the worst drought we’ve seen may actually be the norm when taking the long perspective. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Carnivorous Plants Evolved The Same Habits Independently

By studying the pitcher plant’s genome — and comparing its insect-eating fluids to those of other carnivorous plants — researchers have found that meat-eating plants the world over have hit on the same deadly molecular recipe, even though they are separated by millions of years of evolution. “We’re really looking at a classic case of convergent evolution,” (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Life On Earth Had To Wait 2 Billion Years For Plants To Colonize Dry Land

This time in Earth’s history was a bit of a catch-22 situation. It wasn’t possible to evolve complex life forms because there was not enough oxygen in the atmosphere, and there wasn’t enough oxygen because complex plants hadn’t evolved – It was only when land plants came about did we see a more significant rise in atmospheric oxygen. The history of life on Earth is closely intertwined with the physical and chemical mechanisms of our planet. It is clear that life has had a profound role in creating the world we are used to, and the planet has similarly affected the trajectory of life. I think it’s important people acknowledge the miracle of their own existence and recognise what an amazing planet this is. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Africa’s Tallest Trees Discovered On Africa’s Tallest Mountain

The late date of this discovery of Africa’s tallest trees may be due to the comparably low study efforts at Kilimanjaro compared with other biodiversity hotspots. Since only a few square kilometers of this habitat of Entandrophragma are left, Kilimanjaro (and Africa) is about to lose not only a unique biogeographical archive with highly diverse vegetation, but also its tallest trees. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Why Did Prehistoric “Trees” Grow Tall?

paleoecological interpretations have been rooted in understanding of modern angiosperm-dominated ecosystems. One key example is tree evolution: although often thought to reflect competition for light, light limitation is unlikely for plants with such low photosynthetic potential. Instead, during this early evolution, the capacities of trees for enhanced propagule dispersal, greater leaf area, and deep-rooting access to nutrients and the water table are all deemed more fundamental potential drivers than light. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

An Orchid Emerges From Dormancy, Saying A Lot About The Health Of Its Ecosystem

If you are a plant, when life aboveground turns harsh, you have few options. Some orchids respond by going dormant, spending years to decades underground before reemerging aboveground. But an army of the right fungi may help jolt them out of dormancy, ecologists discovered in a new study (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Are Plants Watching Us? The Case For Plants Having Vision

These cyanobacteria use the entire cell body as a lens to focus an image of the light source at the cell membrane, as in the retina of an animal eye, Although researchers are not sure what the purpose of this mechanism is, its existence suggests that a similar one could have evolved in higher plants. “If something like this is already present at the lower level of evolution, it is most likely kept,” (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Apparently You CAN Teach An Old Slime Mold New Tricks

Slime mold, a unicellular organism at the bottom of the food chain, can learn, a finding that has important implications for understanding the evolution of learning, as well as how many creatures can be “smart” and successful without a brain. Learning likely even predates the emergence of nervous systems, much less brains, according to a new study, (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Flowers Use Physics As Well As Color And Shape To Lure Pollinators

Research has traditionally explored the role of chemical pigments and volatile organic compounds as cues for pollinators, but recent reports have demonstrated the importance of physical and structural means of pollinator attraction. Here we explore the role of petal microstructure in influencing floral light capture and optics, analysing colour, gloss and polarization effects. We discuss the interaction between flower, pollinator and gravity, and how petal surface structure can influence that interaction. Finally, we consider the role of electrostatic forces in pollen transfer and pollinator attraction. We conclude that this new interdisciplinary field is evolving rapidly. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

Puny Mammals: Tallest Trees Bigger Than 5 Sperm Whales

Tallest tree aside, this work really highlights the value of protecting primary forests, These ancient trees are really only found in primary forests, many of which are not properly protected. A detailed map like this will be useful for establishing conservation priorities.” (Click on title for full story.)