Through macro photography, Joni Niemelä is able to capture the minuscule beauty of things that we might normally miss.
The Finnish photographer has recently turned an eye towards the carnivorous plant Drosera, which is more commonly known as a “Sundew” — a moniker referring to the droplets that collect on the plants, akin to a morning dew.
Those condensation-like beads, however, aren’t from water.
They’re the result of the plant luring, capturing, and digesting insects.
In Niemelä’s gorgeous images, the extremely close vantage point allows him to highlight the tiniest parts of the Sundew, and their individual droplets shine with exquisitely-speckled details.
Having such a shallow depth-of-field also abstracts parts of the composition. While the plant (or plants) are often in focus, the diffused areas bathe the portraits in brilliant greens, blues, and magentas.
“Sundews have always fascinated me, and I have been photographing these alien-like plants for several years now,” Niemelä says. “My first first photo series Drosera was mostly bright and vibrant, so I wanted to have some contrast to that in my second series of Sundews.
I think the colors and the mood of Otherworldly Blues reflect aptly the true nature of these carnivorous plants.”
Trees have been around for about 370 million years, and as you can from these incredible pictures, there’s a good reason why they’ve survived for so long.
Whether they’re growing in the middle of gale-force winds, on the tops of rocky platforms, inside concrete tunnels, or even growing out of each other, trees know how to survive in places that few living organisms can, which explains why the planet is host to around 3 trillion adult trees that cover an estimated 30% of the earth’s land.
Considering that plants produce the vast majority of the oxygen that we breathe, we should all think ourselves very fortunate that trees are as resilient as they are.
We wouldn’t even be here if they weren’t. Thanks guys! (h/t: twistedsifter)
There’s nothing quite like the sugary rush that accompanies a cold glass of Coca-Cola — but did you know that the aptly named Coke used to deliver an even bigger kick?
Until 1903, the world-famous soft drink contained a significant dose of cocaine.
While the Coca-Cola Company officially denies the presence of cocaine in any of its products — past or present — historical evidence suggests that the original Coca-Cola did, in fact, contain cocaine.
Coca-Cola was first created in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton, who modelled his beverage after a then-popular French refreshment, coca wine, made by mixing coca-leaf extract with Bordeaux wine.
To avoid liquor regulations, Pemberton chose to mix his coca-leaf extract with sugar syrup instead of wine. He also added kola-nut extract, lending Coca-Cola the second half of its name, as well as an extra jolt of caffeine.
While cocaine-infused beverages may seem far-fetched to modern readers, these drinks were quite common in the late 19th century. Cocaine was not made illegal in the United States until 1914, and until then, the substance had a variety of (sometimes questionable) medical uses.
Cocaine tonics, powders and pills were popularly believed to cure a variety of ailments, from headache and fatigue to constipation, nausea, asthma and impotence.
But by 1903, the tide of public opinion had turned against the widely used and abused narcotic, leading the Coca-Cola Company’s then-manager, Asa Griggs Candler, to remove nearly all cocaine from the company’s beverages.
But Coke wouldn’t become completely cocaine-free until 1929, when scientists perfected the process of removing all psychoactive elements from coca-leaf extract.
Whether you drink your Manhattan with bourbon or rye, this grass is a key ingredient. The grain has been fermented since at least 3000 BC, for good reason: it is rich in enzymes that help break starch into fermentable sugar.
To kick-start this process, the grains are dampened to force germination. As the embryo sprouts, those enzymes are activated to provide sugar for the seedling—or for the fermentation tank.
Oak (Quercus alba)
As oak trees mature, the older vessels become plugged with crystalline structures called tyloses. As a result, the center of the tree—the heartwood—doesn’t conduct water at all, making it well-suited for use as a watertight barrel. Whiskey gets an astonishing array of flavors from the barrel.
American white oak produces the same flavor molecules found in vanilla, coconut, peach, apricot, and cloves.
Marasca Cherry (Prunus cerasus var. marasca)
In the distant, boozy past, a maraschino cherry was not an artificially dyed and overly sweetened atrocity. It was a dense, dark, sour cherry called the marasca that grew particularly well in Croatia, around the town of Zadar.
Fortunately, fine marasca cherries soaked in their own liqueur can still be found in some specialty shops.
Perhaps the most widely imbibed conifer on the planet, this ancient plant dates to the Triassic period. Juniper berries are actually tiny cones with fleshy scales that take two to three years to ripen.
A single shrub can hold berries in all stages of ripeness, so they are harvested by spreading a tarp underneath and beating the plant with a stick to make the ripe cones fall off.
By law, a spirit must contain some juniper to be called gin.
Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta)
A common gin ingredient, this West African ginger relative produces tiny, spicy seeds.
It has flavored spirits and beers for centuries, but it’s also a staple food of western lowland gorillas.
Zookeepers discovered that without this vital food source, captive gorillas developed heart disease.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
This silvery Mediterranean herb is best known as a flavoring in absinthe, but it is also used to add a note of bitterness to most vermouths.
In fact, the word “vermouth” is derived from early forms of “wormwood”—and that name came from the belief that the plant could kill intestinal worms.
Olive (Olea europaea)
A relative of jasmine, lilac, and garden sage, olives have been cultivated in the Mediterranean for seven thousand years, and individual trees live to be hundreds of years old.