Category Archives: PLANTS

Alien Plant Hunter Taking First Steps on Earth. Next Stop: Jupiter

The technology takes inspiration from Star Trek.

The science fiction of Star Trek has been inspiring scientists for generations in ways big and small. As mentioned in the opening credits of both the original series and The Next Generation, one focus for the ships in Star Trek‘s Federation is “to seek out new life,” which can be easily done thanks to technology capable of remotely scanning an area for life forms. Scientists have now made steps toward recreating that technology in the form of a specialized camera called a TreePol spectropolarimeter.

All living organisms have what are known as chiral molecules, which can reflect, refract, or diffract light. The TreePol spectropolarimeter has lenses and receptors able to detect rotating light reflected by plants. TreePol is specifically designed to detect circularly polarized light, a type of electromagnetic wave that rotates either clockwise or counterclockwise, reflected from foliage.

Continue reading

This Chemical From This Plant Is So Hot It Destroys Nerve Endings—in a Good Way

Resiniferatoxin is 10,000 times hotter than the hottest chillie pepper, and has attributes that make it promising as an extraordinary painkiller.

INFORMATION & PICS OBTAINED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES BY THE PUBLISHER

In Morocco there grows a cactus-like plant that’s so hot, I have to insist that the next few sentences aren’t hyperbole. On the Scoville Scale of hotness, its active ingredient, resiniferatoxin, clocks in at 16 billion units. That’s 10,000 times hotter than the Carolina reaper, the world’s hottest pepper, and 45,000 times hotter than the hottest of habaneros, and 4.5 million times hotter than a piddling little jalapeno. Euphorbia resinifera, aka the resin spurge, is not to be eaten. Just to be safe, you probably shouldn’t even look at it.

Euphorbia resinifera, the resin spurge, is a species of spurge native to Morocco, where it occurs on the slopes of the Atlas Mountains. The dried latex of the plant was used in ancient medicine. It contains resiniferatoxin, a capsaicin analog tested as an analgesic since 1997.

But while that toxicity will lay up any mammal dumb enough to chew on the resin spurge, resiniferatoxin has also emerged as a promising painkiller. Inject RTX, as it’s known, into an aching joint, and it’ll actually destroy the nerve endings that signal pain. Which means medicine could soon get a new tool to help free us from the grasp of opioids. READ MORE

Continue reading

THE DREADED GIANT HOGWEED PLANT IN ENGLAND. ALIEN PLANT OR PUTIN’S CURSE ON THE UK?

Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘to blame’ for Giant Hogweed invading UK

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin is to blame for the spread of the toxic Giant Hogweed plant in the UK, it has been claimed.

A scientist claims Russia is to blame for the UK being unable to deal with giant hogweed

Despite decades of research biologists are yet to find an effective weapon agains the invasive species, whose poisonous sap recently hospitalised a dog walker and a ten-year-old girl.

But they believe a rust fungus found in Georgia, where the weed originally comes from, may hold the answer to stopping the plant which can cause severe burns, blisters and even blindness.

In the early 2000s scientists went to Georgia but their efforts were hampered by conflict with Russia, where Putin had just become president for the first time.

Continue reading

What Is Giant Hogweed? This Invasive Flower Gives You Third-Degree Burns USA.

The giant hogweed is hard to miss. The monstrous plant towers up to 15 feet tall, with a crown of white flowers the size of an umbrella. They burst into bloom between the last week of June and the first week of July—just in time to be the perfect dramatic backdrop to red-white-and-blue-themed parties.

But whatever you do, don’t touch it. The giant hogweed’s toxic sap could give you third-degree burns if you don’t get out of the sun and wash it off immediately. Like an anti-sunblock, chemicals in its juices disrupt your skin’s ability to filter out harmful UV rays. Get it in your eyes and you could go blind.

In places where hogweed has been around for decades, residents know its risks well. But while the majestic flower of the hogweed adds a courtly presence to any landscape, it is an invasive species—producing up to 120,000 winged seeds at a time. In the mid-1900s it expanded across New York state, carried on the riverways it likes to grow near. It hopped into nearby Pennsylvania, Ontario, and then on into Michigan. About 15 years ago it invaded Ohio. Today it’s found sporadically in more than a dozen states—and it’s still spreading, putting more people in harm’s way.

Continue reading

Stay away from the Poisonous Manchineel, aka the “Tree of Death,” at All Costs

For all its raw beauty, nature can be pretty scary too. One minute you’re chomping a beautifully juicy green apple from a tropical branch, and the next your throat is rapidly closing up in a mad dash to the ER. Take the manchineel tree, for example. Sure, it’s nice to look at. But with a nickname like “tree of death,” don’t expect an entirely wonderful experience.

Danger! Watch out for yourself

The machineel is the most dangerous tree in the world. But just by looking, you would never know it. The tree is a beachy, tropical plant that generally looks like any other, save for its abundance of shiny green fruits. It’s native to Central America, the Caribbean, northern parts of South America, and tropical regions of North America, including South Florida.

Continue reading

The Pisonia Tree Lures and Murders Birds for No Apparent Good Reason

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Someone should tell that to the Pisonia tree, a ruthless plant that kills birds just for the heck of it. You may be asking, “Why?” Well, the tree should respond, “Why not?”

Oh Murder Tree, Oh Murder Tree!

If you didn’t think a plant — a tree, no less — could be a jerk, think again. Found in the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, the Pisonia tree fits the bill as one of the most unnecessarily cruel plants in the planet. While it’s not uncommon for plants to have built-in defense mechanisms, those things are usually there to keep the plant safe from preditors. But scientists have yet to uncover any benefit the Pisonia tree could possibly receive for luring birds in only just to murder them.

Here’s what happens at the crime scene: the Pisonia tree produces sticky seedpods that trap insects, luring in hungry birds with the promise of an easy lunch. These seedpods are so sticky that they’ll latch onto any bird that flies into them, either trapping it in the tree’s branches or weighing the bird down stosuch a extent that it’s completely unable to fly. As a result, you’ll see a blanket of bird carcasses littering the roots of the Pisonia tree. There are sometimes even mummified bird corpses up in the branches that look like, as Washington Post describes them, “macabre Christmas tree ornaments.”

Ecologist Alan Burger at the University of Victoria first heard of the Pisonia in the 1990s and went to the archipelago of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean to work out why these slaughterous trees seemed to kill just for the hell of it. Until then, no one had looked too hard into the Pisonia tree, but there were two main theories as to why they were bird-tormentors: either the tree’s roots got a nutrient bump from the dead birds, or the seeds attached to the dead birds because they required the corpse as fertilizer in order to grow. After 10 months of research with the Pisonia seeds, Burger published his findings in 2005.

The conclusion? Pisonia trees are just out & out ruthless. “The results from my experiments showed quite convincingly that the Pisonia derived no obvious benefit from fatally entangling birds,” writes Burger. But not only did dead birds not benefit the tree in any way, but the droppings of living birds would also help the trees survive by enriching the soil. It turns out, then, that killing birds isn’t necessarily the goal. Birds flying away from the tree with sticky seeds attached helps keep the tree species alive by spreading the seeds far and wide. It’s just one of those evolutionary whoopsies that the seeds sprout in clusters — heavy, self-sabotaging, bird-murdering clusters.

Curious for more of nature’s killers? Check out “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” The audiobook is free with a trial of Audible.

www.sunblestproducts.com

www.auctiontraders.net

Henry Sapiecha

 

India Plants a Record 50 Million Trees in 24 Hours -Jungle or Forest?

More than 800,000 volunteers planted saplings in public spaces in the state of Uttar
Pradesh hoping to reduce greenhouse gases and reforest the countryside

india_forest.sun-streaming image www.pythonjungle.com

There’s no question that volunteers make a huge impact, but last week the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh undertook a 24-hour volunteer project that could one day be measured from space. The state coordinated the planting of almost 50 million trees by 800,000 volunteers in public spaces.

The tree planting frenzy is the beginning of a reforestation effort the nation of India agreed to during the 2015 Paris Climate Talks, reports Brian Clark Howard at National Geographic. During those talks, India made a commitment to reforest 12 percent of its land by 2030, a $6.2 billion commitment.

“The world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Uttar Pradesh has made a beginning in this regard,” Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav told volunteers before the planting, reports Biswajeet Banerjee at the AP.

The planting is not just a publicity stunt, though the organizers do hope it raises awareness of reforestation efforts. Though the record won’t be validated for several months, it’s likely that Uttar Pradesh Guinness World Record has blown away the standing record for the most tree plantings in one day. That went to Pakistan in 2013, when volunteers planted 847,275 trees out of the water, reports Howard.

While Banerjee reports that there is usually a 60 percent mortality rate for saplings planted in these kind of projects, state officials say they are committed to monitoring the trees to make sure they survive.

Edward Parson, an environmental law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells Christina Beck at The Christian Science Monitor that the 50 million trees is at best just a “small contribution” to India’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But it is one more sign the nation is moving in the right direction. Beck points out that besides the reforestation program, India has also implemented an ambitious solar-power program.

As Anit Mukherjee, policy fellow with the Centre for Global Development tells Adam Boult at The Telegraph “It addresses many of the big issues for India: pollution, deforestation, and land use.”

If 50 million trees sounds like a lot, this is likely just the first of many tree planting events on the subcontinent. In May, the country’s Environment Minister announced plans to increase the nation’s forests from 21.34 percent to 33 percent of its land area  with a bill that’s been passed by the Parliament of India’s lower house and is now pending approval from the upper house.

rh

Henry Sapiecha

THIS IS THE WORLDS LARGEST SEED-CHECK IT OUT HERE.

worlds biggest seed palm tree cocode mer palm tree image www.pythonjungle.com

The secret behind the world’s largest seed is leaves that serve as good gutters. During rains, they channel lots of water and nutrients right to the plant’s thirsty roots.

Coco-de-mer palms (Lodoicea maldivica) produce these monster nuts, which are a type of seed. The biggest can tip the scales at up to 18 kilograms (roughly 40 pounds). That’s about as much as a 4-year-old boy. Yet the palm outperforms all other plants — at least in seed heft — with a below-poverty diet. These plants grow wild on nutrient-starved, rocky soil on just two islands in the Seychelles. (They’re part of an arc of some 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off of the East Coast of Africa.)

Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury works for the Seychelles Islands Foundation. Despite a scarcity of nutrients to fuel its growth, a palm forest is “magnificent — it’s like a dinosaur could come around the corner,” he says. Winds can jostle hectares (acres) of stiff leaves. This makes a sound he describes as “crackling.”

Nitrogen and phosphorus are two natural fertilizers — nutrients — that these (and other plants) need. There isn’t much of either on the islands where these palms grow. So the plants are frugal. They sprout fronds using only about one-third the nutrients needed by leaves of 56 neighboring species of trees and shrubs. What’s more, coco-de-mer palms scavenge a lot of the nutrients shed in their own dying leaves. These trees can reuse 90 percent of that prized phosphorus from the fronds it’s about to drop. That’s a record for the plant world, report Kaiser-Bunbury and his colleagues in the May New Phytologist.

Creating its monster seeds uses up about 85 percent of this plant’s supplies of phosphorus, the biologists estimate. And the palms manage this, the researchers conclude, thanks to drainage. The palm’s curving leaves easily can span 2 meters (6.6 feet). Creases in them make the leaves resemble folded paper fans. Any rains falling on them will funnel down the stems. That water washes animal droppings, stray pollen and other materials — a nutrient windfall — off of the palm and onto its hungry roots.

Each giant seed takes a long time to grow, about six years. But that won’t happen until the palm first reaches plant “puberty.” On the nutrient-poor ground, this reproductive coming-of-age may take 80 to 100 years. Only then can one of these palms yield its first seed. Throughout a female coco-de-mer palm’s life of several hundred years, it may bear only about 100 seeds.

Few of those monster coconuts will get a chance to replenish the dwindling coco-de-mer forests, however. Kaiser-Bunbury calculates that 20 to 30 percent of the endangered species’ seeds must sprout to keep the forests growing and healthy. But that hasn’t been happening. Nut poachers have been illegally kidnapping the seeds. Then they grind them into a powder that they sell.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

This Fungus Is Called Devil’s Fingers. And Watching It Emerge from Its ‘Egg’ Will Make You Feel Very Uneasy

Were you aware that a fungus was capable of hatching? Yeah, neither were we.

Native to New Zealand and Australia, the Clathrus Archeri, also known as Devil’s Fingers or octopus stinkhorn, is a very, very interesting fungus.

Aside from smelling just like rotting flesh, it seriously looks just like something out of a sci-fi alien movie.

Apparently, it smells so horrid because it uses the odor to attract flies, which unknowingly disperse the fungi’s spores.

Watch it emerge from its “egg” in the video above will make you feel quite uneasy.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha