articles

The plant that hides from human eyes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Intense commercial harvesting of the alpine plant Fritillaria delavayi, which is used in traditional chinese medicine, may be driving the selection of duller, more camouflaged plants.… Read more

A decorative image of a sea slug and a fridge filled with chloroplasts

This sea slug steals chloroplasts and keeps them fresh

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In biology class back in high school, I learned that plants do photosynthesis and animals don’t. But for some years now, researchers have been amazed by an exception to this rule: sea slugs that contain chloroplasts, the sub-cellular plant compartments where photosynthesis takes place. Are animals on the path to become photosynthetic?… Read more

Some plants are too old for this sh*t

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I will use this post on plant biology to complain about getting old and becoming more easily irritated. Age affects us all. But if your knees are aching and your back is sore, well!, at least you can rest assured that plants suffer from age, too. … Read more

Why do the leaves turn red?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Autumn leaf colours have amazed the public for all of human history… and puzzled scientists for just as long. While the orange, yellow and brown hues of autumn can be easily understood, the stunning reds that some species display remain in question.… Read more

Arabidopsis battles insects before they’re even born

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Plants are great at recognising what’s going on around them. They have built in temperature sensors and timers, they know what is up (and what is down), and they’ve worked out how to reach for and follow the sun’s light. Plants recognise when it’s winter, can tell if insects nibble on them, and wince in slow motion when researchers touch them.

Now, researchers have discovered yet another thing that plants can feel: when they’re covered in insect eggs.… Read more

It could be witchweed, some evil witchweed

Reading Time: 6 minutes

We’ve now entered the season where you might just expect the occasional witch at your front door. Instead of leading to panic, the meeting leads to the exchange of sucrose laden gifts for spooky performances – all at a safe distance, of course. For the crop sorghum, however, a witch at the front door leads to a much more drastic fate: death. … Read more

Trick or treat: plants that beat up bees

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The orchid family, Orchidaceae, contains over 750 genera, yet it is the Catasetum genus that has earned a description from non other than Darwin himself as ‘the most remarkable of all Orchids’. Probably because, while other pollinated plants like to offer their pollinators a treat, Catasetum orchids also bring the trick.… Read more

There might have been a wasp in your fig – but don’t throw it away!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Although we like to focus our attention on plants, we can’t really discuss their life without also discussing the way plants interact with their pollinators. There are plenty of weird relationships out there, including those involving flowers that fake it, and stories of nectar thieves. But one of the weirdest has got to be the case of figs and self-sacrificing wasps.… Read more

Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me, Plant Edition

Reading Time: 5 minutes

They’ve been described to “…capture the imagination as such behaviors are unexpected in otherwise often quiescent creatures” and to “…turn plants into aggressors against animals, trapping and devouring them”.

Today, we’re talking about the touch response of plants.… Read more