articles

I saw the Kew Garden’s giant Corpse Flower

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By enormous luck, a spur-or-the-moment decision to escape to London’s Kew Gardens on a sunny Friday had me running into the blooming event of the season: the opening of the Corpse flower’s massive bloom.… Read more

My bees bring all the sugar to the flower

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The sound of insects flying next to my ear has never excited me in a good way. The sound usually triggers an intense reaction defined by hand waving, jumping and squealing like a grown man. This is one of the many ways you can tell that I’m not a flower, because if I were, I’d get sweeter by the minute as soon as that buzz appears.… Read more

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Turning Cabbage into Cauliflower

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cauliflower’s ability to imitate anything from ‘rice’ to ‘wings’, has seen the previously humble veggie rise in power in recent years. Yet while its transformative powers are celebrated by foodies across the world, until now it has remained unclear how the vegetable itself (and its fancy Romanesco variant) evolved from its plainer predecessor – cabbage… Read more

Plants ‘smell’ pheromones of parasitic worms

Plants perceive the chemical signals that waft off worms like bad B-O as a sign to hunker down and start preparing their defences.

The fact that nematodes -a type of small slender worm- are the most abundant animals on earth is almost definitely one of my least favourite facts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an anti-wormer. But you might say I’m a bit of a worm snob – I simply prefer the fancy segmented ‘earthworm’ variety (aka annelids). While earthworms exist in my mind as friendly soil-living earth munchers that are ‘just the right size for a small child to put in its pockets’, I know that nematodes can range from microscopic to over a metre long.… Read more

Bug Pest Steals Plant Genes to Neutralize Plant Defences

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Plants and herbivorous insects have long struggled in an evolutionary arms race. Now, in the first example of animals thieving plant genes, research shows that sweet potato whiteflies have overcome plant defences by looting the plants’ own genetic arsenal. … Read more

This superhero protein will fight anaemia

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I like plants a lot – especially when I can eat them. A purely plant based diet, however, might not include enough iron to stay healthy (although not necessarily). New research could change that. … Read more

It’s time we talked about see-through wood

Using the chemicals we bleach our hair with and a little sun we can create a new type of wood that’s (nearly) as clear as glass.

Wood is a rather remarkable material that humans have been using for over a million of years, both for fuel and for the creation of structures. Wood is cheap yet versatile, with low density and light weight, yet high strength, and the ability to be highly insulating. Relevant to modern times, it’s also a renewable resource, and a carbon sink. … Read more