If you wander long enough in California's redwood forests—long enough to believe that the color spectrum has been condensed into infinite shades of greens and browns—you might stumble on an anomalous patch of white. Little clouds of the forest floor, they lurk in the understory, affixed to the feet of redwoods. Scientists are fascinated by them. Some call them ghost trees, others compare them to vampires. Most will agree that albino redwoods are, at the very least, curious parasites.
If you're in or around London this weekend, consider a visit to Plants in Peril and Losing Paradise, two exhibitions at Kew Botanical Gardens. Curated from the Shirley Sherwood Collection at Kew, the exhibition emphasizes plants from South Africa, a continent with the greatest diversity of flora and the highest numbers of plants headed for extinction.
If you're planning a wild orchid hunt, you could paddle through the mangroves of Papua New Guinea, or adventure into the Colombian rainforests. Or, you could consider a trip to Minnesota.
An endangered species is threatened with impermanence; its inked likeness is not. This is the founding metaphor of extInked, a project conceived by the Ultimate Holding Company, an art collective in Manchester, UK. A social experiment with an ecological initiative, the project paired a hundred of the country's threatened flora, fauna, and fungi with volunteers that would become ambassadors for their species—with a tattoo to prove it.
A genome is an organism's hereditary information—its DNA—and Biologists have been studying them since the early 20th century. Genome sizes vary a lot, and the numbers can be very surprising. To wit, the record for largest genome goes to ... a plant! A rare flowering plant called Paris japonica has a genome 50 time longer than that of humans, and the longest known genome of any organism.