Category Archives: Plants & People

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Botanical Residue Reveals Story Of Ancient Buried Artifacts

“It has been an absolute pleasure to examine this unique assemblage. By combining the plant macro and pollen evidence we have been able to identify the time of year the vessels were buried, the packing material used, the nature of the surrounding vegetation and the likely date of burial.” (Click on title for full story.)

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The Elusive Superstar Plant of Fiji

For now, the tagimoucia continues to inspire Fijians. On a ferry that sails from Taveuni to Suva, I held a tagimoucia clipping given to me by the village chief of Tavuki. The flower turned heads. A young boy whispered “tagimoucia” as he walked past. A woman pointed and mouthed the flower’s name before breaking into a smile. (Click on title for full story.)

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Towards Food Security: This Tree Provides Fruit and Timber In Parched Saline Environments

Economically, socially and environmentally, Dobera glabra is a very valuable tree. One of its many attributes is that its fruit ripens during the drought period, providing food when food is scarce. The tree’s timber is used in heavy construction, for agricultural implements, fuelwood, watering troughs and other domestic items. The leaves can be used as fodder for livestock, and its roots and leaves are used for traditional medicines. In many villages the tree is also planted to provide shade. By domesticating Dobera glabra for on-farm cultivation, we can go a long way towards tackling food insecurity in southern and north eastern Ethiopia and similar environments. (Click on title for full story.)

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The Re-Invention Of Tasty Tomatoes

In the tasting panels, there were noticeable differences in preferences: between men and women, between foodies and nonfoodies, and, perhaps most interesting, between older people and younger people. He recalled one of the students working in his laboratory picking out the supermarket tomato as her favorite in one of the taste tests. “That bothers me a lot,” Dr. Klee said. “Have we trained a whole generation that doesn’t know what a good tomato is?” (Click on title for full story.)

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Native People Have Redesigned Arctic Ecosystems For Millenia

While the prevailing vision of the Arctic tends to be that of a vast and primordial wilderness, Dr. Oberndorfer says a more accurate picture is that of an intricate web of connections that have formed between the land and those that have inhabited it for many centuries. (Click on title for full story.)

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A Successful Strategy To Control Asian Longhorned Beetle Infestation

The Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) is one of the 10 most dangerous quarantine pests in the world. More than 30 ALB infestations have been reported in eight European countries to date; six of these infestations have now been eradicated. In most cases, it took more than 10 years to wipe out the beetle population in large outdoor infestations. The pest has killed millions of poplar trees in China. Winterthur (Switzerland) has recently shown that it is possible, however, to eradicate even large outdoor infestations within the statutory minimum period of four years. This requires decisive action right at the start of an outbreak, because only the best and most experienced people on the ground can isolate the infested area in the first year. (Click on title for full story.)

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The Lonely Archeobotanist

Now the once bustling lab is now practically empty, with Elshafaey singlehandedly attempting to keep archaeobotany alive at Helwan University. He works essentially alone in the lab researching ancient plants from archaeological sites across Egypt for his PhD. (Click on title for full story.)

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Growing Furniture: Using Ancient Techniques For New Designs

It’s a technique he and his team have been developing for 10 years, an arduous process that requires patience as the trees mature. Their open-air factory, located in the UK, is a four-acre field with 3,000 trees planted. They currently have 500 pieces in production, which include chairs, lamps, and tables. No glue or joints are used in the finished pieces, just grafts where necessary. The result is beautifully sculptural pieces that honor the original material and demonstrate what subtle, human intervention can produce. (Click on title for full story.)

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So What About The Seaweed That Tastes Like Bacon? New Super Food?

You may have recently heard that researchers at Oregon State University were pleasantly surprised to find that, after working two decades with a seaweed species bred to feed abalone, they discovered that they were actually dealing with a delicious seaweed superfood called dulse that tastes like bacon when it’s fried. Clearly, we needed to go deeper, so we talked to researchers and chefs who’ve been using kale’s funkier, cooler younger brother. Here’s what we learned: (Click on title for full story.)

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When Were Plants First Cooked For Food?

Prehistoric people may have cooked wild grains and plants in pots as early as 10,000 years ago, according to new evidence. Scientists say the food was “a kind of porridge”, acting as the staple diet when there was no meat from hunting. The pottery fragments were found at two sites in the Libyan Sahara, which was then green and fertile. The ability to prepare plants and grains in pots would have been a big advance at the time.(Click on title for full story.)