Pollen from a variety of common plants as seen through an electron microscope: sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory Ipomoea purpurea, hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis). The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 ¼m long. The photo was taken at the Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College. (Date of Image: Unknown).
These Pollia condensata berries are so colorful that they might have been picked minutes ago. In fact, they were gathered in 1974. Like beetles and butterflies, their color comes not from pigments but from the refractive geometries of their surface coverings, which don’t degrade over time. (Some beetle colors even shine true after nearly 50 million years.) Researchers say that P. condensata's blue is the most intense color in the natural world.
Image: Vignolini et al./PNAS
One of the most interesting of all dune plants, and certainly one of the most bizarre wildflowers in North America is “sand food” (Pholisma sonorae). This amazing parasitic flowering plant grows in the Algodones Dunes of southeastern California and adjacent Arizona, and in the sand dunes of El Gran Desierto in Sonora, Mexico (north of Bahia Adair in the Gulf of California). Within this area, the plants grow on sand dunes produced by wind transport of sand from the beaches of ancient Lake Cahuilla and the Colorado River delta. Another unusual species of sand food (Pholisma culiacana) is endemic to rocky, subtropical thorn scrub 500 miles (800 km) south in Sinaloa, Mexico. The disjunct distribution of these two species may be explained by plate tectonics.
This is a photo of Tulip field in Northern Holland.
Tulips come in a variety of shapes and sizes as well as an array of colours; red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, in fact there are 1,700 varieties of tulips!! But did you know, that about 80% of them come from the Netherlands?
Today over 3 billion tulip bulbs are cultivated in Holland, 2 billion of which are exported; with the United States of America being the top importer, taking around 1 billion a year!!
Contrary to belief, tulips are not actually native to the Netherlands, The are naturally found in high altitude areas where during the winter thick layers of snow offers them good protection from the severe cold. Given this natural liking of tulips for high places, it is all the more remarkable that the Dutch should become known for growing tulips, as the Netherlands is largely situated below sealevel and their winters are more wet than cold!
Monkey Orchids, aka, the coolest flower I’ve ever seen.
Its scientific name is Dracula simia, the last part nodding towards the fact that this remarkable orchid bears more than a passing resemblance to a monkey’s face – although we won’t go as far as to be species specific on this one. The Dracula (genus) part of its name refers to the strange characteristic of the two long spurs of the sepals, reminiscent of the fangs of a certain Transylvanian count of film and fiction fame.
Tacca chantrieri, aka the Chinese Bat Black Flower, is a flowering plant in the yam family. These flowers can grow up to a foot across and bear ‘whiskers’ that can grow up to 28 inches long. Gardeners cultivate them as ornamental plants, which makes sense seeing as they produce stunning flowers. Not only do they resemble bats when opened, they also produce fruits that resemble sleeping bats.
A type of palm tree native to Belize, called the ‘give and take’ palm (Cryosophila stauracantha), is a kind of joke from nature. The razor sharp spines on the tree will inject a deadly poison into the body of anyone who dares touch it. As well, it will leave a rather nasty cut on anyone who touches it. However, there’s a remedy for the cut. What is it? The very sap of the tree! It contains a chemical that will nullify the poison, help heal the cut, and disinfect the wound.
Researchers have discovered that plants have the ability to recognize their siblings through their roots and the chemical cues they secrete. The finding not only sheds light on the intriguing sensing system in plants, but also may have implications for agriculture and even home gardening.
Susan Dudley, an evolutionary plant ecologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and her colleagues observed that when siblings are grown next to each other in the soil, they “play nice” and don’t send out more roots to compete with one another. However, the moment one of the plants is thrown in with strangers, it begins competing with them by rapidly growing more roots to take up the water and mineral nutrients in the soil.
"Plants have no visible sensory markers, and they can’t run away from where they are planted," says Harsh Bais, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware. "It then becomes a search for more complex patterns of recognition."