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..."
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]
Welwitschia mirabilis lies around the Namibian coastal desert like misshapen heaps of horticultural debris, either singly or in untidy clumps. Each plant has two huge leaves lolling out from its gaping trunk that collect moisture from the sea fogs. These plants would win no awards for beauty - the Regius Keeper of Kew Gardens described them as "one of the ugliest" plants brought to England, and it's hard to disagree with the Daily Mail's description of it as "hideous ... leprous ... snaking and sinister". None the less, it is a tourist attraction in its own right and supports the Namibian coat of arms where it symbolises fortitude and tenacity. If you're still hanging out for some Welwitschian goodness, here's a video and lots more photos on Wikimedia Commons. You can even try growing one yourself!
NewCROP index part of the Center for New Crops & Plant Products, at Purdue University is an amazing collection of commercial plant information. From Macadamia nuts and qinghao to Tumbleweed and Sweetgrass a broad range of plants are detailed. The information that is included for each ranges from a single paragraph for Quackgrass to dozens of internal and external links for Soybeans. Crops are listed both alphabetically by genus and common name. Warning: Web .95 navigation
"Lost World" found in Indonesian Papua (with audio)