Living Stone - Dinteranthus vanzylii 

Dinteranthus vanzylii (Caryophyllales - Aizoaceae) is an intriguing solitary or clumping plant with attractive bodies and flowers that is very similar to Lithops in shape and colors but with no apparent dormant period.

The body is formed by two succulent leaves almost fully united, up to 4 cm tall and is sunken in the ground for most of the leaf length. The leaf pair forming a cone or a funnel with the leaf tips broad, flat, but sometime with a thin horny keel near the fissure. It is chalky white to clear paste or greyish with irregular red or brownish markings and dots.

As Lithops this species is also native to the Cape province, South Africa.

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©Etwin Aslander | Locality: South Africa (2011)


The Glory of Life in X-ray: a stunning series of X-ray images by medical specialist and artist Arie van ’t Riet explores the inner workings of animals and plants

“Arie van ’t Riet has a unique view of life on earth. As a medical physicist based in the Netherlands, van ’t Riet teaches radiographers about radiation physics and safety. As part of his teaching program, van ’t Riet searched for an example to demonstrate and visualise the influence of x-ray energy on the contrast of an x-ray image. The higher the x-ray energy, the lower the contrast. “I arrived at flowers. After some years I started to edit and partly colour these x-ray images. And I added animals,” he says. van ’t Riet now produces a series of x-ray artworks demonstrating the inner beauty of life. 

Each image is produced at his home, where he has an x-ray machine under licence. All the animals imaged were already dead. “It’s not justified to expose living animals to the risk of x-rays,” he says. His work has now given him a new perspective on nature” (read more).

(Source: BBC)

A few days ago I met Dr Olwen Grace from RGB Kew. Her research is in an area of great interest to me: the convergent evolution of succulence. So far she has been focussing on resolving systematic controversies pertaining to messy asphodeloid genera in southern Africa, but she now plans to incorporate a good amount of physiology into her work, possibly including some large-scale work in the Karoo. I’ll have to keep in touch in case I can tag along one day!


The Kuttiompand are both a revered and hunted ungulate found throughout the frost tundra. 

They represent the highly complex and intericate mesh between the sociological and religious relationship of the indigenous people.

Believed to be the reincarnated souls of tribesmen the Kuttiompand are deemed holy protectors and oracles. 

Their flesh, fur and bones are never to be harvested outside of the religious hunting festival, The Blood Harvest Moons festival. This hunt is a highly religious and prepatory hunt. 

Tribesman hunt the kuttompand to sustain their people during the long harsh winter as well as to free the captive souls of their brethren. It is believed that the killing of the Kuttiompand will allow their brethren’s souls to reincarnate into a higher realm of being.   

The supernatural nature of the kuttiompand comes from their highly elusive nature. They  seemingly manifest and disappear into thin air. Also their fur gives off a phosphorus glow adding to their ethereal nature. 

Pitcher Plant hybrid - Sarracenia x moorei

Sarracenia x moorei (Ericales - Sarraceniaceae) is a naturally occurring hybrid between Sarracenia leucophylla and S. flava. In addition to its gigantic proportions, this hybrid is outstanding because of its stunning coloration. The lower three quarters of the pitchers are lime green, and the pitcher tops are lemon yellow with large areoles and light red veining. The ala is lined in red. The nectar roll is pronounced, undulated and mottled with red.

The ranges of the parents overlap in Georgia, Alabama and the Florida panhandle, in the United States.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Julie Tew | Locality: Blackwater River State Forest, Okaloosa County, Florida, US (2013)


The UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo: The Seed Cathedral

Theme - Better City, Better Life

"The UK pavilion at Expo 2010, colloquially known as the Seed Cathedral, was a sculpture structure built by a nine member conglomeration of British business and government resources directed by designer Thomas Heatherwick. It referenced the race to save seeds from round the world in banks, and housed 250,000 plant seeds at the end of 60,000 acrylic rods, held in place by geometrically-cut holes with the rods inserted therein.”


"The Seed Cathedral is 20 metres in height, formed from 60,000 slender transparent rods, each 7.5 metres long and each encasing one or more seeds at its tip. During the day, they act as optic fibres and draw daylight inwards to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources inside each rod allow the whole structure to glow. As the wind moves past, the building and its optic “hairs” gently move to create a dynamic effect.”


Images: Heatherwick Studio; REUTERS/Aly Song

#seed banks #art

Inside a Changing Autumn Leaf

One of the great wonders of life is watching the leaves change colors in the fall. When temperatures get cool, chlorophyll begins to break down revealing the underlying pigments in the plants’ sap. This depiction of the inner-workings of a maple leaf shows the process in action.

Source: SciAm Blog Network

Root Systems of Prairie Plants

Prairies are often called “the upside-down forest” since the majority of the biomass (the plant parts) of the system is underground (up to 70%). Compass plant and blazing star, stars of the prairie screen, noted in this line drawing of roots, reach 15 feet deep. The different morphology of the root systems works in harmony, with each plant taking advantage of a soil niche, mingling and “shaking hands” with all of the other plants in the soil, as they do above the soil.

(via: Native Prairies Association of Texas‎)

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