Category Archives: Plants & People

Antibiotics That Get Into The Water Supply Could End Up In Our Food

To track the antibiotic’s journey from water to pepper, the researchers labeled TCC with radioactive carbon (C14). They grew the pepper plants hydroponically and, after 12 weeks, sampled the C14 content in the roots, stems, leaves and fruit. While the pepper fruit itself had relatively low levels of TCC, it contained a hefty portion of C14 in molecules that started out as TCC but then were converted to other molecules by the plant. According to the researchers, this finding indicated that the plant was metabolizing the antibiotic, and the health impact of these metabolites would need to be taken into account to fully assess the safety of TCC consumption. (Click on title for full story)

Mystery: South American Sweet Potatoes Arrived In Polynesia Before Humans Did

“This paper shows sweet potatoes were already in Polynesia when the islands were first colonized by humans thousands of years ago,” says Lars Fehren-Schmitz, a paleogeneticist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “But it can’t prove there was no contact between Polynesians and South Americans before Europeans arrived.” (Click on title for full story.)

Toxic Squash Syndrome: Who Knew?

Although it’s rare, other cases of cucurbit poisoning have been described in the medical literature; in those cases, people developed food poisoning after eating bitter-tasting squash, zucchini and other gourds, according to the new report. But these are the first two reported cases linking the consumption of bitter-tasting gourds with hair loss (Click on title for full story.)

Rediscovering Ancient Gardens And Why Our Ancestors Created Them

Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, archaeologists started to apply the full range of methods available to identifying and understanding ancient gardens. As technology has evolved, researchers have not only been able to discover where gardens were located and, generally, what they were used for, but also to determine which individual plants were cultivated and how long they thrived. Along with written sources, this has allowed researchers to see how gardens changed over time and what they can tell us about the people and cultures who nurtured them. (Click on title for full story)

Marry A Tree To Save It From Deforestation

he ceremonies are known as the “marry a tree” ritual and is being held and supported by an organization named Bedani. “I think more than 30 people got married here, men and women, who freely said ‘yes’ to their tree. The commitment is more than a symbolic wedding – it is also a commitment that is spiritual and action-oriented,” (Click on title for full story.)

Neighbor Sues Over Walnuts Falling On Cars. Court Protects Rights Of Walnuts

Walnut trees may shed their nuts, judges in the court concluded, adding that this autumnal occurrence is “a fact of nature” and must be tolerated. (Click on title for full story.)

The Lost Peoples And Lost Crops Of North America Rediscovered

Over 2,000 years ago in North America, indigenous people domesticated plants that are now part of our everyday diets, such as squashes and sunflowers. But they also bred crops that have since returned to the wild. These include erect knotweed (not to be confused with its invasive cousin, Asian knotweed), goosefoot, little barley, marsh elder, and maygrass. We haven’t simply lost a few plant strains: an entire cuisine with its own kinds of flavors and baked goods has simply disappeared. (Click on title for full story.)

The Nazi Botanist, His Murder And The International Conspiracy To Eradicate Coco

In Mendoza the police file on the case has long since disappeared, and in Ugarteche only rumors remain — of a pickup seen lurking at Condor Huasi and the arrival and departure of two Bolivians that day from the nearby airport. But, according to Cabrera at least, the long career of Nazi Germany’s top botanist was on the cusp of a dramatic final act before he was cut down. “Heinz was very close,” he says. “Everything was ready; we were going to eliminate coca.” (Click on title for full story.)

To Improve Students’ Engagement In Lessons, Take Them Outside

This study is the first to our knowledge to directly examine the effects of lessons in nature on subsequent classroom engagement. We found higher levels of classroom engagement after lessons in nature than after carefully matched classroom-based counterparts; these differences could not be explained by differences in teacher, instructional approach, class (students, classroom, and class size), time of year, or time of day, nor the order of the indoor and outdoor lessons on a given topic. It would seem that lessons in nature boost subsequent classroom engagement, and boost it a great deal; after a lesson in nature, teachers were able to teach for almost twice as long without having to interrupt instruction to redirect students’ attention. This nature advantage persisted across 10 different weeks and lesson topics, and held not only for a teacher with positive expectations for nature-based lessons but also for a teacher who anticipated negative effects of such lessons. The findings here suggest that lessons in nature allow students to simultaneously learn classroom curriculum while rejuvenating their capacity for learning, or “refuel in flight.” (Click on title for full story.)

Irrigation Technique To Farm Arid Lands Passed Along The Ancient Silk Road From Lebanon To China’s Desert

Small-scale irrigation systems similar to MGK were established at the Geokysur river delta oasis in southeast Turkmenistan about 3,000 B.C. and further west at the Tepe Gaz Tavila settlement in Iran about 5,000 B.C. The Wadi Faynan farming community, established in a desert environment in southern Jordan during the late Bronze Age, has an irrigation system nearly identical to the one at MGK, including boulder-constructed canals, cisterns and field boundaries. (Click on title for full story.)