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.
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.
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.
In 2008, a rare and unusual palm was discovered in remote Madagascar. Hailed as the most important new species of its kind, the tree made headline news—not for its notable survival, but for its spectacular demise. If the Tahina spectabilis had an epitaph, it would read "The gigantic palm that flowered itself to death."