So today being 11/11/11, I thought it would be apt to talk about the poppy. A poppy will generally have 4 to 6 leaves per head depending on its species and even though the stereotypical image of a poppy depicts them and being red, they can in fact be almost any colour and I myself have some that are mostly purple with white markings. Poppies have many uses one of which is obviously opium however they are also used as a source of food and poppy seed oil. They were also used in some cultures as a method of pain relief, with doctors giving seeds for their patients to eat but we now know that this is because the seeds actually contain small amounts of morphine and as we can now refine and produce more efficient painkillers, they are not commonly used.
Anyone know what this is? I’ll give you a clue, you use them to make chips! That’s right, its a potato! I find potatoes are quite an interesting plant genetically as they can be anything from diploid (2 copies of each chromosome like us) to pentaploid (5 copies of each)!! As well as great genetic variation, you can also cook them in a million different ways! If you think of a way of cooking you can probably do it to a potato! This is reflected world wide as it is the worlds fourth largest crop, behind rice, wheat and maize and about 330 million tonnes of potato are produced and sold per year! Not only are they a great food source, they also have a very pretty flower as shown above and are a member of the Solanaceae or Nightshade family making them related to the deadly nightshade!
Don’t you think that Cacti are pretty rad? I mean they look fairly boring but just the fact they can survive in such inhospitable places (Technical term: Xerophyte) makes them rather amazing to me. They have evolved to have spines and prickles rather than leaves so that almost no water is lost due to transpiration, thick walls to retain water, HUGE root systems to reach deep wells of water and can absorb massive amounts of water (some can take up 300 litres per day!!) Not only are hugely adapted to the climate they live in when they flower they also have very pretty flowers! Fancy that, a plant that is plain and dull most of the time can flower and take your breath away.
I AM BACK! I have been a little busy for a while I do apologies but I have returned to resume my plant loving antics! :D
I decided that a quaking aspen would be a pretty nice plant to resume on! They are a native to North America and their name comes from the way their leaves flutter (or Quake!) in the breeze. They rarely flower preferring to spread via root propagation forming large groves such as the one displayed in the photo!
The largest organism by mass on earth is a clonal colony of Quaking Aspen in Utah, U.S.A. For those who don’t know, this means that the all the trees are the same living organism with identical genetics and one massive root system! It is estimated to weigh approximately 6,000,000 kg and to be 80,000 years old! Some times I really wish I was half as awesome as that tree!
Doesn’t it look pretty? These are the flowers of Hawthorn and they do make it look most beautiful. Unfortunately it is also the most spiky bush ever to have evolved and it will stab you in the hands regardless of whether or not you are wearing protective gloves! That being said and my hatred for the bush calmed, it does look nice when flowering or when it is bearing fruit so I guess I can forgive it for stabbing me a few times! Beauty is worth suffering right? :) Its also great for if you want to keep people out, whack in a Hawthorn hedge around your garden and no one is getting in unscathed!!
So again for not posting much, I am busy with exams and the like at the moment but I will post more soon! >_<
Don’t you just love sweet oranges? I myself am quite the fan of sweet citrus fruit with oranges being my favorite of all! As a child I always used to wonder which came first, the word orange or the colour? Getting older and geekier I decided to go on a hunt across the internet to find out and it turns out that the fruit orange came first and that in English there was no word of orange (apparently we called it red-brown or something) until we discovered the fruit. Whilst with the use of greenhouses we can force oranges to grow out of season, they always taste sweeter in the summer and I have some very fond memories of sitting in the sun, chomping on segments of orange listening to the sounds garden filled with life. Ahh how I long for it to be summer again :)
This most beautiful specimen of a shrub is lilac! Contrary to popular belief, not all lilacs are in fact lilac, they come in a variety of shades of purple and you can get some that are white, which then begs the question, why is the colour named after it? (I don’t know, but if anyone does, please message me the answer :D) I do quite like the plant and think that, although it does make a hedge look a mess when it isn’t flowering, when you have a nice hedge with bloom of lilac sticking out every so often, it truly is magnificent! Even when planted separately, Lilac holds its own against some of the more common trees and shrubs in a garden and is sure to brighten up even the most dull of spaces! Their seeds also form into little helicopter blades if you know what I am talking about but I have still to actually witness one falling from a tree! >_<
Also, completely unrelated, sorry if I don’t blog much, my time is short at the moment but I try to spread my love of plants when I get the chance! :D
As I am sure you know, this is a Venus Fly Trap and is a rather remarkable plant. As a biologist myself, this plant is truly a testament to the adapting capacity of plants! They were able to evolve in low nitrogen environments to catch live prey as their source of nitrogen, which is no small feat as in involves gaining a calcium ion pump to generate the speeds needed! As if that wasn’t enough, it is able to do all this whilst remaining firmly rooted to the ground! Remarkable no?
From a non-biologist point of view, they are great fun to trigger and then say “Nom nom nom” as it closes. No I don’t do this on a regular basis, don’t be ridiculous! >_> <_<
Japanese Knotweed (Or Knotgrass) did, as the name suggests, come from Japan originally and is what I would call, a bastard of a plant to get rid of. It is a notifiable weed, which means if you see it, you are legally bound to notify your local council and they must remove it. This is due to is being insanely tenacious, it can grow a new plant from a piece of stem about the size of your thumb nail!! It also has roots about 2 metres long so requires more than one application of weed killer. What people often forget in all their destruction of this plant, it that we intentionally brought it over to the UK from Japan, and this picture shows that it can be quite pretty when flowering.