Category Archives: Amazing Plants

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.)

Botany 2.0 – New Technologies Revive Interest In Traditional Botanical Pursuits

Plant biologists hope that, by combining new approaches to botany with data from genomics and imaging labs, they can provide better answers to questions that biologists have asked for more than 100 years: how genes and the environment shape the rich diversity of plants’ physical forms. “People are starting to look beyond their own system into plants as a whole,. Plant morphology was once a science of form for its own sake, she says, but now, it is being pressed into service to understand how plant traits connect to gene activity across disparate species. “It’s coming back — just under different guises.” (Click on title for full story.)

The Plant That Abandoned Photosynthesis And Cross-Pollination

As well as abandoning photosynthesis, the L. nigricans also self-pollinates – its flowers remain buds until they fall. Non-photosynthesizing plants such as L. nigricans often grow on the dark forest floor, an environment that bees and butterflies rarely visit. Because of this, L. nigricans and L. nigricans var. patipetala are both self-pollinating species. L. nigricans may have stopped opening its flowers because this used up too many resources. Similar evolutionary patterns are occurring in other mycoheterotrophic plants. (Click on title for full story.)

Photosynthesis On Earth Began 1.25 Billion Years Ago

To pinpoint the fossils’ age, the researchers pitched camp in a rugged area of remote Baffin Island, where Bangiomorpha pubescens fossils have been found There,despite the occasional August blizzard and tent-collapsing winds, they collected samples of black shale from rock layers that sandwiched the rock unit containing fossils of the alga. Using the Rhenium-Osmium (or Re-Os) dating technique, applied increasingly to sedimentary rocks in recent years, they determined that the rocks are 1.047 billion years old. (Click on title for full story.)

Weighty Discovery: Newly Discovered Brazilian Tree Species May Be World’s Heaviest Organism

Dinizia jueirana-facao grows in a narrowly restricted area of Atlantic forest in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. It is Critically Endangered – we know of only 25 of these trees in the whole world – a fact which helps to explain why such a majestic species has gone undiscovered and scientifically unnamed for so long. If such gigantic species are being described as new to science in the 21st century, just imagine how many smaller organisms are still waiting to be discovered? (Click on title for full story.)

Plants, Choosing Adaptations That Will Lessen Reproduction, Benefit Their Community

“We looked at how chemical defense cues from plants, meant to deter herbivores, can also deter pollinators, The surprising model result is that while this can lead to fitness losses for individuals, the population effects can be positive for pollinators and plants under some circumstances.” (Click on title for full story.)

How The Chocolate Trees Pass Disease Resistance On To Their Own Saplings

Although any litter exposure helped, plants that were treated with cacao litter showed the least damage overall and about 50% less damage than plants treated with mixed leaf litter from other species. Seedlings that were given no litter may host a greater diversity of endophytes because they are more likely to be colonized by weedy, easily-dispersed endophytic fungi that haven’t specialized in living within and protecting cacao as C. tropciale has.One important implication is that cacao farmers can give their seedlings a good start in a simple way: by collecting leaf litter from healthy older trees and spreading it around seedlings. If seedlings are planted in big fields away from older trees, such a practice could improve seedling health without having to individually inoculate each tree with C. tropicale. (Click on title for full story.)