Pitcher Plants

Pitcher Plants Thrive on Shrew Poo

Like all plants, pitcher plants need a source of nitrogen to grow well. Most plants get this from the soil, from nitrogen rich animal droppings which have been incorporated into the soil. Carnivorous plants can also obtain nitrogen from ‘prey’. Some species pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes can also capture animal droppings as their […]

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White Egret Orchid

Fascinating Fertility Fringe for Orchid

A beautiful white orchid known as the white egret orchid Habenaria radiata has distinctive petals with long fringes on each side of the flower.  These were thought to simply act as visual signals to attract their main pollinators, two species of nocturnal hawkmoths.  Scientists in Japan have studied the interaction between moths and orchids and […]

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Red Algae

Pollination in the Sea

A group of European researchers have studied a seaweed named Gracilaria gracilis that grows in the tidepools around Europe.  This seaweed is in a class of red algae known as Florideophyceae, and has separate male and female forms.  Unlike many marine organisms the females do not release their eggs into the water to be fertilised, […]

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No Blue Colour in Bluest Berries

The fruits of a shrub named Lantana strigocamara have a distinct blue colour with a metallic sheen.  Scientists at University of Colorado, Boulder, have studied these to find out where the blue colour comes from and found it is not from any blue pigment.  The berry-like fruits have a complex structure of lipid droplets in […]

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Giant Water Liliy

Giant Leaf Mechanics

A group of scientists from UK, USA and France have studied the structure of the leaves of the giant Amazonian water lily to see how the leaves can grow so large without becoming too massive for the plant to maintain.  The leaves are the largest floating leaves in the world and can grow up to […]

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Mushrooms on Forest Floor

Slugs Ferry Fungal Spores.

Fungi are important for breaking down leaf litter and wood debris in forests, and some form symbiotic relationships with trees and shrubs, which helps nourish both the trees and the fungi.  Mushrooms and other visible fungi are the fruiting bodies, or reproductive structures, of fungi that live in the ground.  They release spores into the […]

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Deschampsia

Antarctic Flowering Plants “a Climate Warning”

Scientists from Italy and UK have been studying the plants on Signy Island, a small island near Antarctica. They found two native flowering plants named Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis have increased their growth rate and range of habitation over the past decade. They are low growing grasses that grow in clumps on an otherwise […]

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Aquilegia

Hopeful Monster Flowers 

Darwin proposed that evolutionary changes occur by a long series of small incremental changes over long periods of time.  Six decades later Richard Goldschmidt proposed that evolution happened by sudden large changes resulting in new organisms with new structures and functions, which he called “hopeful monsters”.  A group of evolutionary biologists at University of California […]

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Flowers and Buds

Darwin’s Abominable Mystery Solved Yet Again

Scientists have found a fossil plant with leaves, a fruit and a flower bud in rocks from Inner Mongolia. These are distinctive features of angiosperms, the scientific term for flowering plants. The fossil plant has been named Florigerminis jurassica and is one of the oldest dated flowering plants found so far. The fossil is dated […]

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Forest Floor

Birds Go Truffling

Truffles are underground fruiting bodies, i.e. reproductive structures, of fungi that live in a symbiotic relationship with trees. They have been described as underground mushrooms. They produce spores, but unlike mushrooms and toadstools they cannot release them into the air in order to be dispersed to a new location, where they can grow. Therefore, truffles […]

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