The Best Strawberry You've Never Had - "The strawberry is native throughout the northern hemispheres. It is, weirdly enough—along with the apple and stone fruits like the peach—a member of the rose family... It is an incredible-tasting fruit. A fraise de bois tastes like you've never really eaten a strawberry before. Everything is magnified: It's both much more acidic and much sweeter than any supermarket strawberry. It's rich and powerful, reminding you why the Greeks saw the strawberry as a symbol of Venus." (via)
The mysterious and useful Vegetable Lamb of Tartary: a plant whose ripe seed-pods yield tiny live lambs. Or was it a plant growing in the shape of a full-size lamb, but with an umbilical tether to the ground? (Oh, and do you know about the barnacle goose?) A tale from the medieval science grapevine. [more inside]
The Plant Food Tree of Life leads you through the major plant foods and their evolutionary relationships. It is a complement to the list view of the same information, in which each link takes you to a related article at the excellent blog, The Botanist in the Kitchen.
We've talked about wood identification before (previously), but there's so much more than The Wood Database, starting with Identification Of Common North American Woods. [more inside]
In 1963, a new volcanic island called Surtsey (previously) was born south of Iceland. In the summer of 1969, botanist Ágúst Bjarnason, who had been monitoring the progress of plant growth on the new island, made a discovery that he has kept secret until now.
"Once when I was in Reykjavík I received the message from Surtsey that a mysterious plant had been discovered in the lava. Those who discovered the plant, three or four foreign nature scientists and one Icelandic botanist, weren’t able to identify it..."
In 1928, a farmer digging in his garden found a flower blooming underground. Three years ago, scientists discovered that it's so well adapted to living underground that it has lost almost all of its chloroplast genes. While this species is unusual for an orchid in the extent of its parasitism, it turns out that all orchids are actually parasites--stealing nitrogen from tiny fungi in the soil without trading any carbon back as plants usually do. See photos of the underground orchid here.
Are you interested in plants? The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew aren’t just a tourist attraction -- they also run one of the world's leading botanical research institutes. To show off how important and fascinating modern plant science can be, they've commissioned a series of snazzy short videos to showcase their work. Start with the award-winning Forgotten Home of Coffee (6:00) (based on this worrying Kew study from 2012), then come back for the rest. [more inside]
Search for wildflowers by location, color, flower shape, flower size and time of blooming. 3,126 plants indexed. This web site helps those of us with limited knowledge of botany to identify flowering plants that are found outside of gardens. This help is provided by presenting you with small images of plants. You can use a number of search techniques to get to the images that are most likely the plant you are looking for. When you click on a plant image the program shows you links to plant descriptions and more plant images. The site has about 5 ways of searching for a plant. You can use these searches in any combination. Some searches eliminate some plants from consideration. Most searches give a "score" to each plant depending on how well the plant matches the search criteria. The plants with the highest score are displayed at the top of the results. Click here for Instructions. [more inside]
Mosses Make Two Different Plants From the Same Genome, and a Single Gene Can Make the Difference
One of the most astonishing secrets in biology is this: every plant you see makes two different plants from the same genome. And, scientists recently reported, a single gene from an ancient, powerful lineage can make the difference.
How would you like to go on a mindbending 3D journey into the devouring maws of four different carnivorous plants? [more inside]
Various Japanese plants (and fungi) spring to life in Omni/ScienceNet's "Action Plant" series of time-lapse videos shot in Kōchi prefecture.
Seasonal Poetry in Sanskrit : The blog Sanskrit Literature has been running an excellent series on plants that appear in sanskrit poetry. Some examples : Jasmine (malati), Lotuses and Water Lilies, Mango.
During the past 4 days, the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science has stayed open 24 hours to accommodate the record crowds filing into the museum at all hours. Why? A rare Amorphophallus titanium, aka “Corpse Flower,” named Lois is finally about to bloom. Now, Lois is not your average, run-of-the-mill stinky plant. Only 28 Corpse Flowers have bloomed in the US, so Lois has become a local celebrity with her own blog, Flickr feed, live webcam and cupcakes. She even has her own playlist, with songs such as “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynrd, “I’m Comin’ Out” by Diana Ross and the classic “Smelly Cat” by Phoebe from Friends. And like any trendy Corpse Flower, Lois also has her own Twitter account. She's also a bit of a diva. Yet despite predictions, Lois still hasn't bloomed as of Wednesday morning. In response, Lois makes excuses, bad jokes, complaints and snarky comments.
Whether you're a casual cultivator or gardening guru, PlantCare.com has a wealth of information about the care and feeding of indoor and outdoor plants. You can search the extensive plant database to find information on thousands of house plants, participate in and discuss your favorite gardening topics in the plant forum, and expand your plant knowledge with hundreds of gardening tips and guides.
Don Berto’s Garden. "The plants of the ancient Maya whisper their secrets to those who speak a shared language."
The Mathematical Lives of Plants "Scientists have puzzled over this pattern of plant growth for hundreds of years. Why would plants prefer the golden angle to any other? And how can plants possibly "know" anything about Fibonacci numbers?"
Beware, O unsuspecting traveler; for the path you take shall surely lead to your doom. The Galleria Carnivora: A celebration of plants that kill. Also, learn how to cultivate your own Audreys with the help of the International Carnivorous Plant Society (and check out their Members Gallery as well).
"Lost World" found in Indonesian Papua (with audio)
A xylothek is literally a library of wood, a collection of book-like boxes made from trees--the wood and bark with the seeds, leaves, flowers, fruit--or illustrations of the soft parts (site in German), inside.
Wayne's World (an unfortunate name for a great website) is "An On-line Textbook of Natural History." I went looking for information on Vanilla, which I knew is the only commercial food product of an orchid, but which I didn't know is hand-pollinated, and found information on so much more. There are several extensive courses available on basic biology and botany, a huge section on chemicals in plants and animals, and tons of fun stuff like "The Truth about Cauliflory" and "Bat-Pollinated Flowers Of The Calabash & Sausage Tree." The index is extensive and covers everything from "Absinthe: An Herb That May Have Poisoned Vincent van Gogh" to "Ziricote: Beautiful Caribbean Hardwood In The Borage Family."
News from the world of plants by way of the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden weblog. Beauty in science by way of the photo of the day.
Monsanto Wins Fight to Control Plant The Canadian Supreme court sets international precedent by ruling that since Monsanto holds a patent on a gene, it can control the use of the plant. So does this mean that in the future that an engineered human gene could be patented, and therefore if you receive this gene you will have to make royalty payments? And if you renege on paying can they repo the gene?
The Missouri Botanical Garden Library has scanned and posted 46 volumes of its rare book collection. 16,133 pages and 2,050 beautiful illustrations are currently available.
As an example, see this engraving of a foxglove by Pierre Vallet from 1608.
As an example, see this engraving of a foxglove by Pierre Vallet from 1608.
Plants in motion is a comprehensive archive of time-lapse movies (Quicktime format) of plants germinating and growing, flowers opening, tropic responses and circadian movements. Some of the video is quite eerie. The plants really seem...erm...alive... The site also has a guide to making your own time-lapse film.
Botanical Record-Breakers - learn about the world's most poisonous plants, the fastest growing, the most painful, the oldest, the ongoing debate about the largest, and much more. Also discussed is the rare coconut pearl - botanical jewel, or hoax?
Katinka Matson's scanned flower art : technology lets the flowers speak. "...imagine a painter who could, like Vermeer, capture the quality of light that a camera can, but with the color of paints. That is what a scanner gives you.... In her flowers one can see every microscopic dew drop, leaf vein, and particle of pollen—in satisfying rich pigmented color....." (scroll down for images)
The delicate art of topiary, or "cutting trees into weird shapes". The people. The history. The outstanding. The bizarre, and the phallic (completely SFW). I grew up with a similar tree to the last one on my street, although ours had...uhugm... a knob on top; I believe the gardener responsible was too short to trim above a certain level...
Antique Botanical Prints from Panteek, and many more.
The Dancing Plant -- Darwin was obsessed by it, although even he never trained his weedy Asian shrub to twitch its leaves to the sound of music. But in a small town in northern Thailand ... [Some people may experience a time-delay ad]
"Feeeeed Me!" Although the physical reality of this "museum" seems a bit sketchy, you simply have to love lush color photos of carniverous plants. I mean c'mon! Audrey II would be proud.
NASA to send glow-in-the-dark plants to Mars. While they wait and search for native life form, NASA, in conjunction with Ferl Lab of University of Florida, is sending GM plants that would report back via their glow into the Red Planet. The good doctor has sent his babies into the heavens before.