Root Systems of Prairie Plants
Prairies are often called “the upside-down forest” since the majority of the biomass (the plant parts) of the system is underground (up to 70%). Compass plant and blazing star, stars of the prairie screen, noted in this line drawing of roots, reach 15 feet deep. The different morphology of the root systems works in harmony, with each plant taking advantage of a soil niche, mingling and “shaking hands” with all of the other plants in the soil, as they do above the soil.
(via: Native Prairies Association of Texas‎)
click image to see larger

Root Systems of Prairie Plants

Prairies are often called “the upside-down forest” since the majority of the biomass (the plant parts) of the system is underground (up to 70%). Compass plant and blazing star, stars of the prairie screen, noted in this line drawing of roots, reach 15 feet deep. The different morphology of the root systems works in harmony, with each plant taking advantage of a soil niche, mingling and “shaking hands” with all of the other plants in the soil, as they do above the soil.

(via: Native Prairies Association of Texas)

click image to see larger

VICE MUNCHIES:
We Spoke to a 90-Year-Old Farmer Who Grows Pumpkins the Size of Cows


by Hilary Pollack
Is there anything more quintessentially autumnal than the mighty pumpkin? In the next six weeks, millions of Americans will be buying them, carving demonic faces into them, and adorning their porches and fruit baskets with them. We’ll be swimming in Olympic-pool-sized vats of pumpkin spice syrup and making pumpkin costumes for our helplessly imprisoned guinea pigs. And sometimes, we’ll even eat pumpkin.
We wanted to know the secrets of True Pumpkin Magick, and who better to represent pumpkin culture than Adrien Gervais, a 90-year-old man from Ontario who has been growing giant pumpkins for more than 20 years?
In 1999, Gervais grew a 981-and-a-half pound pumpkin that took home first place at the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest, which purports to attract the biggest pumpkins in the world every year. After reading about “Grandpa” Gervais—also nicknamed “Pumpkinhead”—and his current fast-growing behemoth on CTV Barrie, we had to know how more about this king of gourds…
(read more: Vice Magazine)

VICE MUNCHIES:

We Spoke to a 90-Year-Old Farmer Who Grows Pumpkins the Size of Cows

by Hilary Pollack

Is there anything more quintessentially autumnal than the mighty pumpkin? In the next six weeks, millions of Americans will be buying them, carving demonic faces into them, and adorning their porches and fruit baskets with them. We’ll be swimming in Olympic-pool-sized vats of pumpkin spice syrup and making pumpkin costumes for our helplessly imprisoned guinea pigs. And sometimes, we’ll even eat pumpkin.

We wanted to know the secrets of True Pumpkin Magick, and who better to represent pumpkin culture than Adrien Gervais, a 90-year-old man from Ontario who has been growing giant pumpkins for more than 20 years?

In 1999, Gervais grew a 981-and-a-half pound pumpkin that took home first place at the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest, which purports to attract the biggest pumpkins in the world every year. After reading about “Grandpa” Gervais—also nicknamed “Pumpkinhead”—and his current fast-growing behemoth on CTV Barrie, we had to know how more about this king of gourds…

(read more: Vice Magazine)

libutron

libutron:

A story of ants, bees and orchids: the Bucket Orchids

The genus Coryanthes (Asparagales - Orchidaceae) has one of the most complex flowers structures of the highly diverse orchid family. Sepals and tepals are usually turned back and soon wither after anthesis (the period during which a flower is fully open and functional).

The fleshy lip of the Coryanthes flower is composed of three parts: the cup shaped hypochil (the lower part of the lip), the partially covered, tubular mesochil (the intermediate or middle part of the lip), and the bucket-like enlarged epichil (the terminal part of the lip), which is filled up to the “exit” with a fluid, secreted by two broadly-falcate protuberances, called pleuridia, at the base of the column.

Coryanthes species grow on trees, and exclusively in ant nests of the genera Azteca, Campanotus, and Crematogaster, in so-called “ant-gardens”. These arboreal communities can reach diameters of 150 cm with the ant nest comprising 80 cm. Both organisms share a destiny because the plant is condemned to death if the associated ant colony dies. The plants offer nectar in extrafloral nectaries and provide a framework for nest construction with their root system, while the ants defend the plants against herbivores and additionally fertilize them with vertebrate feces. This abundant provision of nutrients by the ants allows the plants to grow rapidly.

All Coryanthes species are pollinated by males bees of the genera Euglossa, Eulaema, and Euplusia. The bees are attracted by the odor of the flowers and swarm around them. They land on the hypochil of the flower and try to  get below the hood to seek the fragrance compound. In trying to obtain a footing on the waxy, smooth mesochil they loose their footing and fall in the bucket-like epic hill which is filled with a mucilaginous fluid, where their wings are moistened. The only way to escape is crawling out through a tunnel, formed by the epichil of the lip and the column. The pollinator touches first the stigma and afterwards the sticky viscidium, which glues the whole pollen mass (pollinium) on him. After a second “error”, the flower is pollinated.

These photos show the species Coryanthes speciosa and the Orchid Bees, Euglossa tridentata (Apidae - Euglossini) on Coryanthes speciosa. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Eerika Schulz | Locality: Royal Gardens, Hannover, Lower Saxony, Germany, 2013] - [Bottom: ©Ian Morton | Locality: Hickatee Cottages, Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize, 2002]

The soursop is the fruit of Annona muricata, an evergreen from Central and South America adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters. The taste has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana.
 Photograph: Muhammad Mahdi Karim
(via: Wikipedia)

The soursop is the fruit of Annona muricata, an evergreen from Central and South America adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters. The taste has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana.

Photograph: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

(via: Wikipedia)

Three stages of the a Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas):
bud, flower and fruit (capsule). The species, which grows up to 70 cm (28 in) in height, has large showy flowers which measure 50 to 100 mm (2.0 to 3.9 in). The flower stem is usually covered with coarse hairs that are held at right angles to the surface. The later capsules are hairless, obovoid in shape, and less than twice as tall as they are wide, with a stigma at least as wide as the capsule.

Poppies are soil seed bank plants which germinate when the soil is disturbed. After the extensive ground disturbance caused by the fighting in World War I, poppies bloomed in between the trench lines and no man’s lands on the Western Front. They have since become commonly used in western countries on and before Remembrance Day each year, as a symbol of remembrance.
 Photograph: Alvesgaspar
(via: Wikipedia)

Three stages of the a Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas):

bud, flower and fruit (capsule). The species, which grows up to 70 cm (28 in) in height, has large showy flowers which measure 50 to 100 mm (2.0 to 3.9 in). The flower stem is usually covered with coarse hairs that are held at right angles to the surface. The later capsules are hairless, obovoid in shape, and less than twice as tall as they are wide, with a stigma at least as wide as the capsule.

Poppies are soil seed bank plants which germinate when the soil is disturbed. After the extensive ground disturbance caused by the fighting in World War I, poppies bloomed in between the trench lines and no man’s lands on the Western Front. They have since become commonly used in western countries on and before Remembrance Day each year, as a symbol of remembrance.

Photograph: Alvesgaspar

(via: Wikipedia)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (family Araceae)
This hooded stranger is Arisaema triphyllum, or Jack-in-the-pulpit, found in wooded habitats in central and eastern North America. This plant is usually monoecious; the pale green spadix within the hood supports both tiny male flowers, toward the tip, and female flowers farther down. 
The hood, or spathe, varies in color and the scent resembles stagnant water or fungi. Yummy! Especially if you’re a thrip, or a fungus gnat or one of the other small flies that visit these flowers in the spring. Later the flower will be replaced by a bunch of brilliant red berries. 
Check out the fruit and the different colored hoods in the Jack-in-the-pulpit gallery: Encyclopedia of LifePhoto: Ken-ichi Ueda via iNaturalist

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (family Araceae)

This hooded stranger is Arisaema triphyllum, or Jack-in-the-pulpit, found in wooded habitats in central and eastern North America. This plant is usually monoecious; the pale green spadix within the hood supports both tiny male flowers, toward the tip, and female flowers farther down.

The hood, or spathe, varies in color and the scent resembles stagnant water or fungi. Yummy! Especially if you’re a thrip, or a fungus gnat or one of the other small flies that visit these flowers in the spring. Later the flower will be replaced by a bunch of brilliant red berries.

Check out the fruit and the different colored hoods in the Jack-in-the-pulpit gallery: Encyclopedia of Life

Photo: Ken-ichi Ueda via iNaturalist

gennaiv
gennaiv:

My Favorite Plant Of The Desert:
Of course, yucca is only my favorite desert plant because there are no coal plants or nuclear power plants in this West Texas part of the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Give them time, though 😢. Those are the Chisos Mountains in the background with Casa Grande right behind the the stalk fartherest right. I was near the western end of the often rough River Road in Big Bend NP when I shot the photo.

gennaiv:

My Favorite Plant Of The Desert:

Of course, yucca is only my favorite desert plant because there are no coal plants or nuclear power plants in this West Texas part of the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Give them time, though 😢. Those are the Chisos Mountains in the background with Casa Grande right behind the the stalk fartherest right. I was near the western end of the often rough River Road in Big Bend NP when I shot the photo.

Meet China’s baby-shaped pears and heart-shaped melons
Baby-shaped pears, heart-shaped watermelons and square apples are hitting supermarkets in China and Japan. But are these fruits just frivolous fun?
by Bec Crew
Since the beginnings of agriculture, humans have been customising their fruits and vegetables to suit their needs. Early on, bigger fruits and higher yields were the most important considerations, and while these factors still outweigh the actual taste factor, other, slightly less pressing desires have come into play over the past decade or so.
Namely, people want to eat fruit that doesn’t look like regular fruit.
Which is how baby-shaped pears have come into existence. Grown by China-based manufacturing company, Fruit Mould Co., these strange little shapes have been selling like crazy in China, along with square-shaped apples, and heart-shaped watermelons and cucumbers. Their Buddha-shaped pears are apparently extremely popular…
(read more: ScienceAlert! - Australia & NZ)
photos: Fruit Mould Co.

Meet China’s baby-shaped pears and heart-shaped melons

Baby-shaped pears, heart-shaped watermelons and square apples are hitting supermarkets in China and Japan. But are these fruits just frivolous fun?

by Bec Crew

Since the beginnings of agriculture, humans have been customising their fruits and vegetables to suit their needs. Early on, bigger fruits and higher yields were the most important considerations, and while these factors still outweigh the actual taste factor, other, slightly less pressing desires have come into play over the past decade or so.

Namely, people want to eat fruit that doesn’t look like regular fruit.

Which is how baby-shaped pears have come into existence. Grown by China-based manufacturing company, Fruit Mould Co., these strange little shapes have been selling like crazy in China, along with square-shaped apples, and heart-shaped watermelons and cucumbers. Their Buddha-shaped pears are apparently extremely popular

(read more: ScienceAlert! - Australia & NZ)

photos: Fruit Mould Co.

The Brazilian Jabuticaba tree (Plinia cauliflora) well and truly takes advantage of all the surface area on its trunk by growing its sweet, grape-like fruits all over.
* This syndrome of growing fruit on the trunk is called cauliflory, and is believed to have evolved to make fruit more accessible to gound based frugivorous animals. The fruits are a popular food for humans in parts of South America, and have a wide variety of preparations and uses. (- Paxon)
Images: Bruno.karklis and Anderson S Silva (bit.ly/1sXHwip)
(via: ScienceAlert!)

The Brazilian Jabuticaba tree (Plinia cauliflora) well and truly takes advantage of all the surface area on its trunk by growing its sweet, grape-like fruits all over.

* This syndrome of growing fruit on the trunk is called cauliflory, and is believed to have evolved to make fruit more accessible to gound based frugivorous animals. The fruits are a popular food for humans in parts of South America, and have a wide variety of preparations and uses. (- Paxon)

Images: Bruno.karklis and Anderson S Silva (bit.ly/1sXHwip)

(via: ScienceAlert!)

Unidentified Objects on Oak Leaf - Canada:
Hi, could you possibly tell me what the heck this is growing (living?) on the underside of this leaf? It’s on (some sort of) oak tree in Alberta, Canada, and I only found it on one leaf.
Paxon:
I believe that these are leaf galls. In oaks, leaf galls are usually caused by a species of tiny gall wasp laying its egg(s) on or in the tissue of a leaf, The larva hatches from the egg, and with the use of certain chemicals, forms this structure in the leaf. The gall makes a hardened case for the larva to develop in, and on the inside produces various food substances from the plant, for the larva. The larva burrows out of the gall, once it develops into an adult.
Nematode worms, mites, and various other insects may form galls in the leaf and branch tissues of various kinds of plants. Some galls are more of a protective reaction by some plants, basically protective scar tissue, and in some other plant-gall former relationships, the formation of the gall is more within the power of the parasitic larva.

Unidentified Objects on Oak Leaf - Canada:

Hi, could you possibly tell me what the heck this is growing (living?) on the underside of this leaf? It’s on (some sort of) oak tree in Alberta, Canada, and I only found it on one leaf.

Paxon:

I believe that these are leaf galls. In oaks, leaf galls are usually caused by a species of tiny gall wasp laying its egg(s) on or in the tissue of a leaf, The larva hatches from the egg, and with the use of certain chemicals, forms this structure in the leaf. The gall makes a hardened case for the larva to develop in, and on the inside produces various food substances from the plant, for the larva. The larva burrows out of the gall, once it develops into an adult.

Nematode worms, mites, and various other insects may form galls in the leaf and branch tissues of various kinds of plants. Some galls are more of a protective reaction by some plants, basically protective scar tissue, and in some other plant-gall former relationships, the formation of the gall is more within the power of the parasitic larva.

darccmarcc
biodiverseed:

Black tomatoes, that are unusually high in anthocyanins (pigments with antioxidant properties that are possibly neuro-protective, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory) have been accidentally bred by the folks working on the "Indigo Rose" project at Oregon State University.
The same group of pigments is responsible for the deep shades of certain red and purple berries, and autumnal foliage colours.
(h/t malformalady, The Daily Mail)
#tomatoes #garden science

biodiverseed:

Black tomatoes, that are unusually high in anthocyanins (pigments with antioxidant properties that are possibly neuro-protective, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory) have been accidentally bred by the folks working on the "Indigo Rose" project at Oregon State University.

The same group of pigments is responsible for the deep shades of certain red and purple berries, and autumnal foliage colours.

(h/t malformalady, The Daily Mail)

#tomatoes #garden science

Pollen from a variety of common plants:
sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea), hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis).
* The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long.
image: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College - Source at Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility ([1], [2])

Pollen from a variety of common plants:

sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea), hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis).

* The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long.

image: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College - Source at Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility ([1], [2])