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]
A massive fireball and explosion has happened at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas (just north of Waco). Hundreds of injuries are being reported. [more inside]
A seed library is a long-term lending institution, for plants. Seed Libraries Preserve Heirloom Varities [more inside]
Brassica oleracae longata - the curious case of the seven-foot tall cabbage.
The need for speed This article contrasts two very different timeframes in the 'social life' of the plant stimulant miraa--known elsewhere as khat--in Kenya and beyond. One, the heritage and cultural associations around the age of the trees themselves and the other, the impact of the perishability of the product even as demand for it grows on continents halfway around the world, thus the "need for speed". (Previously) (Previously)
“The gaudy leonine sunflower Hangs black and barren on its stalk, And down the windy garden walk The dead leaves scatter,- hour by hour”
Rare fossilised flower found, related to sunflowers. "A 45 million-year-old fossil flower found in northern Argentina has uncovered the evolutionary roots of Earth’s most populous plant family. Image can be viewed here. Called Asteraceae, the family includes dozens of domesticated species — from sunflowers, daisies and chrysanthemums to lettuce, artichoke and tarragon — and some 23,000 undomesticated plants. But despite its ubiquity, Asteraceae’s fossil legacy is sparse, containing little more than pollen grains. A few larger, detailed fossils exist, but they’re relatively young."
Meet Meet Eater, a plant that sustains itself through Facebook interaction. This project was created by designer and artist Bashkim Isai as a university project to explore the idea of "affectionate computing" and currently sits at digital hub The Edge in Brisbane, Australia. Meet Eater has a good sense of humour, but also perhaps a drinking problem.
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!
Galls or plant galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues. Some are hideous and some strangely beautiful, and some can even be mistaken for an actual crop of the tree. Galls often form due to insects or fungi, but the plant is an unwilling and helpless partner.
Do plants have a consciousness? Michael Pollan seemed to argue they do in The Botony of Desire (original book) and that they were inextricably involved in co-evolution with their human cultivators, affecting human development, perhaps as much as the humans who are selectively choosing traits in plants. If that’s true, that plants are conscious, is it okay to eat them?
From Sheffield, England to Yongbyon, North Korea, nuclear plant cooling towers are coming down! And pretty much without a hitch. Things didn't go quite so well, though, for an old flour factory in Turkey, which just rolled over onto its roof. D'oh!
Summer's coming! The tried-and-true food growing tool of the aspiring urban agriculturalist: self-irrigating planters. Make or buy one of these things and vegetable container gardening is a breeze. [more inside]
Poaching – not pears, not birds, but plants. In the feed-me-Seymour vein of green and growing things, these are the plants that eat things – too bad they aren’t able to defend themselves from people and habitat loss. But wait! There’s help on the way. [more inside]
Can you identify these common plants and animals? A study shows that increasingly, 9- to 11-year-old children can't. Quoth David Attenborough: "The wild world is becoming so remote to children that they miss out, and an interest in the natural world doesn't grow as it should. Nobody is going protect the natural world unless they understand it."
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
Seeds of Imagination operates on the premise that talking (er, typing) to your plants encourages interesting growth. Try: sun, water, love, happy, fruit, etc. If a word is recognized, you will see it float up toward your plant. If not, it just disappears without a trace. You may also change the color of parts of the plant by typing in colors. (note: Flash, subtle ad)
The little coffee plant that almost died. A fascinating and inspiring radio piece detailing the story of the wild coffee plant, "cafe marron," that almost disappeared from the one island where it grew, Rodrigues, in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
If you play a plant constant rock music, it will die. In the 1970s, Dorothy Retallack conducted a series of experiments to discover the effect certain types of music had on plants. The results might surprise you.
Nature's Control: Hired
Thugs Bugs to police your garden. "If desired, you can keep ladybug adults from flying by "gluing" their wings shut, temporarily, with a sugar-water solution. Half water and half sugared pop (Coke, Pepsi, etc.), in a spray bottle, works fine."
"Lost World" found in Indonesian Papua (with audio)
Where do you hide your nasty-ass toilet plunger so the house guests won't see it? Under an attention-getting, gawdy as hell fake plant - duh.
(A)bort, (I)gnore, (R)evert to Grandma's DNA A jaw-dropping revision to Mendelian inheritance: bad genes can be replaced from a secret ancestral stash. (The same researchers have previously mentioned other ways to get around Mendel.) Also, DNA gets a fake fifth letter.