The works of J.R.R. Tolkien have given us a lush, vast fantasy realm in Middle-Earth, one that’s extraordinarily archived and detailed in his many writings. But a new book wants to go even further on one particularly famous aspect: Tolkien’s use of botany to tell us about the flora of Middle-Earth... and how its…
In an experiment conducted on the International Space Station, two different types of naturally-occurring algae were exposed to the extreme conditions of space. Incredibly, both strains survived. It’s a finding that could further our understanding of how life originated on Earth, and how colonists might be able to…
In the internet age, the answer to most questions is just a web search away. Some queries, however, are too ponderous or inane to even be Bing-worthy. When all else fails, The Internet Asks responds.
Planet Earth is doomed with a fast growing global population and a limited amount of farmland to produce food for everyone. That means that we’re going to need to figure out how to maximize what we’ve got—and researchers just made a major breakthrough in getting the most from our crops.
Trees, is there anything they can’t do? Doubtful. Let’s see: producing half the world’s oxygen, providing habitat for millions of species, creating the soil and timber resources we depend on. Not bad. But all that’s just scratching the surface. As new research shows, there’s a lot more going on beneath the forest…
Unlike humans, plants only react to infections when they sustain specific kinds of damage. Now we know that the solution is to get them to produce special “decoy” proteins that can be damaged, in order to get the plant to spring into action.
The Venus flytrap is perhaps the best known of carnivorous plants — those that get essential nutrients from trapping and consuming insects, particularly when they can’t get enough from the soil. Now a team of German scientists has discovered that the flytrap can actually count, and this ability is the key to knowing…
Marigolds are popular plants among city planners and commercial landscapers. They’re bright and cheery, they’re easy to grow, and when the bugs come calling, they have a really nasty surprise hidden in their roots.
You need bacteria to help you digest your food and go about your day. It turns out that plants have their own version of this. And one weed is driving out the competition by attacking the gut bacteria of other species.
We now know that climate change is a lot more complicated than the world just getting hotter or colder. It will have all kinds of effects, and scientists studying the African savanna think they’ve found one of them.
It sounds like a bizarre video game mashup, but farmers have reported “zombie” plants since the early 1600s: plants that took on a sickly yellow look and grew strange leaf-like structures or bushy growths instead of flowering and reproducing.
Flower stalls have been embellished, for the last two years, with a special kind of orchid known as the “Big Pink.” Researchers thought it was a hybrid. Turns out it’s totally new to science.
These are horsetails. They are hundred-and-fifty-million-year-old plants and the last of their kind. Instead of seeds, they give off spores. And instead of flying or swimming, these spores use humidity to walk, or even hop, on four little legs.
Scientists have identified one of the earliest flowering plants on Earth. Montsechia vidalii likely lived and reproduced below water. The discovery of the 130-million-year-old fossil suggests aquatic plants were common in the evolution of flowering plants, and that aquatic habitats facilitated their diversification.
This orchid is a self-fertilizer. You’d think it would be able to apply pollen to itself without help, but no. It’s the romantic rain that provides the motion which allows the plant to procreate. Hot!
Flowers usually expend their energy on making themselves bright and colorful. They bleach themselves white to stand out against dark leaves, or they deck themselves out in colorful patterns, but the overwhelming majority keep the nectar they offer clear. So, where did this flower’s red nectar come from?
The Sumatran titan arum’s species name – Amorphophallus titanum – means “giant misshapen penis”. Guess what its flower looks like? At full growth, the flower stands 3 meters high, pulses with heat, and smells like rotting meat. The heat and stench attracts flies and beetles, which pollinate the plant. The whole show…
We all know the animal kingdom is incredibly violent — but what about plants? The world of plant life can be just as intense and violent, in its own way. Just check out these eye-popping videos, vines and other illustrations of plants spreading their seeds in an explosive, insane fashion.