Onions and Garlic used as Toxic Cleaners.

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Onions and garlic can absorb toxic leftovers from factories. – varbenov/Shutterstock
Onions and garlic can turn around a bland dish, but Indian biotechnologists have found another use for these roots: filtering heavy metals from toxic brews.
Scientists looking for new cleaning compounds mixed onion and garlic leftovers from canning factories with various industrial wastes.
The two Allium roots absorbed about 70 percent of toxins — including arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead — and they could be reused to clean again.
[This article originally appeared in print as “A Recipe for Toxic Cleanup.”]
Read on via Onions as Toxic Cleanup Sponges | DiscoverMagazine.com.

The Botany of Booze.

The Manhattan
Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
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.
Source: The Botany of Booze: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks | DiscoverMagazine.com

The bizarre Jabuticaba Tree.

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The world is full of bizarre wonders, from flowers that look utterly alien to otherworldly landscapes and terrifying deep-sea creatures that seem to have sprung straight from your nightmares.
This particular tree might not look quite as monstrous as six-foot-tall blooms or carnivorous plants that are large enough to consume rats, but it’s certainly strange: it grows its fruit directly on its trunk.
Jabuticaba is native to the Minas Gerais and São Paulo states of southeastern Brazil, and starts off looking ordinary enough, save for the salmon-colored leaves it sprouts while it’s still young.
As it matures to fruiting age, the first sign of something unusual are the starry white blooms that appear not on its branches, as you’d expect, but on its trunk.
When uncultivated, it flowers and fruits once or twice a year, but when regularly irrigated it can produce its grape-like, thick-skinned berries year-round.
In Brazil, where it can be eaten immediately, it’s typically served fresh.
Since it starts to ferment within three days of ripening, it has to be preserved into jam, tarts, wine or liqueur to give it a longer shelf life.
Attempts to grow it commercially in North America haven’t been successful, since the climactic conditions aren’t quite right and the trees tend to grow very slowly, making it a treat you should really travel to South America to enjoy properly.
via Weirdest Tree Ever? Jabuticaba Grows Fruit Right on its Trunk – WebEcoist.

Exquisite Paintings by Ivy.

ivy-jacobsen05Paintings of flora and fauna inspired by botanical illustrations and the plants she encounters while on daily walks through neighborhoods.
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The use of multiple, semi-transparent layers creates the illusion of depth that invites the viewer to explore the imaginary environment.
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I strive to create a place of magical realism in my landscapes, balancing magical elements with real world rendering of flora and fauna found in our natural world.
I gain inspiration from plant study, whether that be from my daily walks in my neighborhood, the study of botanical illustrations, or memories of plants and their life cycles.
Source: Paintings by Ivy Jacobsen | Faith is Torment | Art and Design Blog

Rare Desert Super Bloom in California.

The normally parched landscapes of southern and eastern California have been transformed into a colourful oasis in the past week as swathes of wild flowers have burst into life across the region’s deserts.
Unexpected heavy autumn rains and cold winter conditions have caused a rare “super bloom” that last occurred in the El Niño years of 1998 and 2005.
These purple sand verbena and desert sunflowers can be seen around the Amboy Crater in the Mojave Trails national monument off Route 66.
Image Credit: Photograph by Planetpix/Alamy Live News
Source: Travel photo of the week: Rare desert super bloom in California | Travel | The Guardian

Frost Damaged Saguaro Cactus, Sonoran Desert.

As the dawn light bathed the desert, Photographer Jack Dykinga trained his lens on the distant Sand Tank Mountains.
The saguaro cactus had fallen victim to frost damage, allowing Jack to climb inside its contorted and drooping limbs.
He has spent a lifetime photographing frost-damaged cacti. ‘This is probably my best effort,’ he says.
Towering over the Sonoran Desert, these cacti have a plethora of amazing adaptions that enable them to survive long droughts.
The roots absorb precious rainfall, while the surface pleats expand like accordions as the cactus swells.
It is this adaptation that makes the cacti susceptible to frost, as the water in the saturated limbs can freeze.
Source: 50+ Best Wildlife Photos Of 2017 Were Just Announced And The Winning Pic Is Making Everyone Angry And Sad | Bored Panda