Antarctica's shores were once lined with palms & tree-ferns, its hills filled with beeches & conifers. That was 55 million years ago, when the continent was a lot hotter. However, this recent discovery asks scientists to consider the future: will the globe's melting ice be replaced with tropical plants? It has been a hot summer.
A Cuban vine "communicates" with bat pollinators by emitting an echo through its acoustically-designed leaves. Scientists say the plant is the nocturnal analog of bright flowers that attract visually-oriented pollinators.
Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) are fondly referred to as the fried egg flower, nicknamed for bleached-muslin petals and buttery yellow stamens. It's the largest poppy blossom, and the largest California native flower. Blooming begins in early May, and sweeps north along the west coast—the poppies are now still blooming in Oregon's summer sun.
Passion flowers are blooming! A genus of about 500 species of vines (and the occasional shrub), Passiflora flowers are distinguished by a characteristic design of radiating filaments and multi-leveled structure. They've long fascinated botanists, gardeners, and even theologians. We've designed a brief primer of several common features—the flower's morphology, and how it gave the plant its name.
Tagua (pronounced tog-wah) nuts, or "ivory of the rainforest," are a vegetable-based and sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. The seeds are hard and smooth, and easily carved and dyed. They were once used for military buttons, Victorian chess pieces, and dice. Today, tagua "vegetable ivory" is a popular material for jewelry and baubles.
The past couple weeks, corpse flowers have been blooming at gardens across the country. Amorphophallus titanum, or titan arum, flowers with the odor of a thousand toxic fumes, the height of two men, and draws crowds as large as any circus. The corpse flower may be most famous in the genus, but more than 170 species of Amorphophallus have been indentified, including a new one earlier this year, found in Madagascar's dry rocky soil.
In honor of Father's Day, here's a unique tree that goes by the name Old Man Palm (Coccothrinax crinita). Covered in long fibers (crinita means hairy in Latin) that resemble a tremendous beard, the rare species is a favorite among palm collectors and a Cuban native. Along with rum and The Old Man and the Sea, it's a fantastic island export.
A new fruit hit markets in the U.K. this week. Round, red, sweet, and juicy, the hybrid fruit is described as a pear disguised as an apple. Until it receives an official name, the new fruit has been going by T109—or, to its friends, the "papple."