Deep in the jungle primeval, Nepenthes attenboroughii awaits its furry prey. But N. attenboroughii isn't a stealthy cat or poisonous lizard. It's a plant, and it eats rats.
Scientists recently discovered this new species of pitcher plant on the verdant face of Mount Victoria in the Philippines. It is the largest carnivorous plant ever discovered, and has been named after the famous naturalist and TV personality Sir David Attenborough.
Any gardener knows weeds are tough. You spray, them, you uproot them, but they keep coming back. Well, some scientists are looking to harness the resilience of weeds to fortify food crops against the causes and consequences of climate change.
Scientists estimate the number of species on Earth to be close to 10 million -- and each year, the number of known species grows. The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an international committee of taxonomists recently released its "Top 10" list of new species described in 2008.
One of the ways that we know for sure that spring has sprung is the appearances of ramps on the trails and at the markets. Ramps, Allium tricoccum, are also known as wild leeks, ramson, and ail de bois. They appear in the springtime in deciduous forest areas from South Carolina to Canada and as far west as Missouri and Minnesota. West Virginia in particular is known for its celebration of this seasonal delicacy. Ramps grow in patches in cool shady areas with moist soil rich in organic materials. They begin to appear in late March and can be found through the end of May.
It's not quite as gross as a teratoma, but it is pretty nuts. Russian media are reporting that doctors found a 2-inch fir tree growing in a 28-year-old man's lungs. Of course then along comes a biologist to point out that trees need such things as light. Anyway, I think the surgeon is smirking just a little bit too much.
Also in today's links: Web-enabling your brain, using the hair off your head to help the earth, and more.
As you huddle inside your home this winter cursing the gloomy darkness, remember that you’re not alone: The season has an even worse effect on your plants. Many common houseplants need far more hours of light than they get naturally in the middle of February, especially if they don’t have direct exposure to a sunlit window. Although the incandescent and fluorescent bulbs most people have in their homes will keep plants alive, they don’t emit light that’s within the temperature range necessary for optimal, or even adequate, foliage growth in light-hungry plants.
The crescent-shaped greenhouse at King Abdullah International Botanical Gardens, rendered here, will be the size of 15 football fields, making it four times as big as the world's current largest greenhouse.
It's hard to imagine it raining in Riyadh. Less than five inches of water fall from the clouds above Saudi Arabia's capital city each year. When the thermostat rises above 110°F, it's not a heat wave—it's midday. But it wasn't always like this. A little over three million years ago, before climate-change cycles turned the area into a desert, the Arabian Peninsula's empty riverbeds were overflowing valleys, and its dry expanses of shrubland were lush grasslands.
German research shows that plant yields rise when exposed to high carbon dioxide levels
By Holly OtterbeinPosted 07.09.2008 at 10:32 am 12 Comments
Tell me this isn’t a summer blockbuster—as man faces the catastrophic effects of increased carbon dioxide levels, plants flourish. German researchers from the Thuenen Institute confirmed as much Tuesday, when they released findings showing that crop yields boom when plants are exposed to high levels of CO2. Jets sprayed the plants with extra CO2—enough to match the amount that scientists predict will fill the atmosphere by 2050—and the outputs of barley, beets and wheat jumped 10 percent.
A new monitoring system allows plants to text farmers when thirsty
By Jessica ChengPosted 05.07.2008 at 3:38 pm 2 Comments
Just in time for this years growing season, farmers have new equipment to help keep tabs on their crops while away. With SmartCrop, a system developed by Accent Engineering, farmers get text messages when their plants need water. The system uses infrared thermometers to measure leaf temperature and data is then transferred to a computerized base station. A cellphone modem hooked up to the base station allows farmers to receive SMS alerts when their plants are too hot. Research has shown that each plant species has a range of temperatures that is best for its growth.
Scientists gain new understanding of how plants' self-defending toxins could become humans' substances of choice
By Matt RansfordPosted 04.17.2008 at 9:10 am 6 Comments
Our most popular and addictive drugs come from plant toxins; caffeine, tobacco, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, are all derived from what are supposed to be poisons. These toxins were developed by plants to ward off herbivores who would otherwise eat them. So why is it that we not only tolerate them, but have found ourselves in a position of craving them, sometimes desperately? It is a paradox at which researchers are taking a fresh look.