A new species of monkey flower has been found growing on the banks of a stream in Scotland. But it is no ordinary discovery—the flower is a rare hybrid of two foreign species, and a glimpse into evolution in action. While just about all hybrids of different species are sterile—think of the mule, a sterile hybrid of donkeys & horses—this monkey flower is fertile, thanks to an unusual genetic duplication.
Lady Gaga is a pop star, cultural icon, provocateur and now, a genus of ferns—at least by name. Last week, botanists at Duke University named a newly identified genus, including 19 species of ferns, after the singer.
To the wandering bird, bee, or insect, a flower is both a billboard and a wayfinding sign—its colors and patterning have evolved to attract pollinators and direct them towards the plant's pollen and nectar. There's one prerequisite: the visual cues require a diurnal pollinator to find the flower. What about bats, then? How do nocturnal, echolocating pollinators navigate a floral terrain? According to an article in Science, they may use acoustics.
It has been a month of corpse flowers!
Orchids are known for their curious behaviors and adaptations and with more than 25,000 species, the Orchidacae family exhibits a dizzying range of colors, shapes, and life cycles. Their enigmatic blossoms often seem to be synced with an inscrutable clock; some flower for months, while others open for only a few hours. Recently, a new species with an unusual blooming time was discovered: the Bulbophyllum nocturnum, the only known night-blooming orchid.
Most plants try to disperse their seeds far and wide. That way, if a flood or fire kills the parent plant, at least the progeny will be spared. Moreover, any plant can be a competitor for nutrients, so the further flung the children, the better. Geocarpic plants are exceptions to this rule. These rare angiosperms prefer to keep their young close to home—actually, they don't even leave the nest before settling into the ground. By depositing their seeds in the ground, geocarpic plants are their own so-called seed sowers.