Rare Plants.


Western underground orchid
(Rhizanthella gardneri) (Credit: Andrew Brown)
This unusual orchid spends its entire life underground. It even flowers underground, in late May and early June, producing more than a hundred cream to reddish flowers, and a strong fragrance.
It only lives in the Broom bush shrubland in western Australia. It lacks chlorophyll so cannot draw energy from sunlight like most plants.
Instead it takes nutrients from the roots of broom bush, by parasitizing the fungi associated with it.
There are thought to be fewer than 50 plants. The species has not been assessed by the IUCN, but Western Australia classes it as critically endangered.
Golf ball
(Mammillaria herrerae) (Credit: Petar43 / Wikimedia, CC by SA 4.0)
Found only in the mountains of Queretaro in Mexico, the golf ball is a small white-ish cactus that looks, you’ve guessed it, like a golf ball.
Its beautiful pink flowers have made it popular among horticulturists, so many wild cacti are illegally collected.
As a result, the population has dropped more than 95% over the last 20 years.
via BBC – Earth – The 9 rarest plants in the world.

Botanical Plants by Daniel Shipp.

daniel-shipp-01A series of dioramas constructed in the studio by photographer Daniel Shipp that shuffle nature, geography, and physics into familiar but fictional environments.
daniel-shipp-02The unremarkable plants are staged against the backdrop of common urban environments which become storytelling elements on their own and invites the viewer to imagine their own narratives.
daniel-shipp-06Daniel’s visual approach was inspired by Robert John Thornton’s Temple of Flora – a series of engraved plates commissioned in the 18th century that depicts unusual botanical specimens in the form of darkly romanticised illustrations with an otherworldly aesthetic.
In these compositions the physical characteristics of the unremarkable plants I have collected become storytelling elements which, when staged against the backdrop of common urban environments, explore the quietly menacing effect that humans have on the natural world.
From a subjective and ambiguous point of view we witness the plants ability to adapt and survive.
By manipulating the optical and staging properties of photography with an analogue “machine” that I have constructed, I have produced these studio based images “in camera” rather than using Photoshop compositing.
They rely exclusively on the singular perspective of the camera to render their mechanics invisible.
See more Imges via Botanical Inquiry: Photos by Daniel Shipp | Faith is Torment | Art and Design Blog

Secrets of the Eucalyptus Tree.

eucalyptus_staigeriana_leafScientists have unravelled the genetic makeup of a eucalyptus tree which could open up new possibilities for renewable forestry and fuel.
The international project has mapped the genome for the Eucalyptus grandis, otherwise known as the flooded gum tree, or the rose gum in Queensland.
Research fellow Carsten Kulheim, from the Australian National University, was one of the 80 researchers who worked for five years to sequence and analyse the 640 million base pair genome.
Dr Kulheim says the eucalyptus is important because it is the most widely planted hardwood tree around the world.
By sequencing the eucalyptus genome, Dr Kulheim says it will allow scientists to understand a lot of the properties of the tree, such as its fast formation of stem and wood.
“For plantations, this information is great as a tool for the selection of trees that grow better, that have the properties that the foresters want.
“But also it shows us why eucalypts are so popular.
“For example, there’s a large number of genes for wood formation and this high number of genes puts it into that special position where the trees can grow quickly.”
Dr Kulheim’s research within the project looked at hydrocarbons which act as a chemical self-defence against pests and herbivores, as well as providing the familiar aromatic essential oils used in medicinal cough drops and in industrial processes.
“Having this eucalyptus genome allows us now to understand where these chemicals come from and why one tree is different to another.”
via Scientists unravel the secrets of the eucalyptus – ABC Rural 

The Perfection of the Romanesco Broccoli.

Put mathematics and broccoli together and you have the two most hated things of my childhood. And that’s exactly what the Romanesco Broccoli is all about. But now that I’m an adult, I find that I’m actually able to appreciate the intricacy of this rare vegetable.
The broccoli takes the form of a fractal – a complex geometrical shape that looks almost the same at every scale factor. So each broccoli is made up of smaller florets that mimic the fractal shape to perfection, which in turn are made of even smaller florets of similar shape… and this goes on and on to the tiniest florets.
If you break off a floret from the main head, it looks like a mini-version of the broccoli with its own mini florets. No matter which part of the fractal you zoom into, it will look like an identical version of the bigger picture.
It’s fascinating to think that something like this naturally occurs in nature, let alone on a vegetable. A detailed pattern that goes on repeating itself is rare and certainly a thing of beauty.
The Romanesco Broccoli is nothing short of a mathematical marvel, reminiscent of the Fibonacci series – a sequence of consecutive numbers that add up to the next number. Like: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on. So how can a broccoli imitate a series of numbers?
Simple. On closer inspection, the Romanesco is revealed to have a spiral starting from the center point.
All the smaller florets are arranged around this spiral. In essence, this is the Fibonacci spiral – a series of arcs with radii that follow the Fibonacci sequence.
If you count the number of spirals in each direction, they will always be consecutive Fibonacci numbers. A math lesson on a vegetable – isn’t that amazing?
via Romanesco Broccoli – The Fascinating Vegetable Shaped Like Fibonnacci’s Golden Ratio | Oddity Central – Collecting Oddities.

Psilocybin the Magic Ingredient in Mushrooms.

psilocybin-mushroom-110929The “magic” ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms is psilocybin, a compound that breaks down into psilocin in the body.
Psilocin bonds to serotonin receptors all over the brain, and can cause hallucinations as well as synesthesia, or the mixture of two senses.
Under the influence, for example, a person might feel that they can smell colors.
In keeping with the human tradition of eating anything that might alter your mind, people have been ingesting psilocybin-continuing mushrooms for thousands of years.
Synthetic psilocybin is now under study as a potential treatment for anxiety, depression and addiction.
via Trippy Tales: The History of 8 Hallucinogens