cycad

More Fun Facts From Your Friendly Botany Major

Apparently y'all love plants as much as I do so here are some more facts!

•All of the mass of a tree comes from the air. As plants take in carbon dioxide they convert it into solid structures called cellulose to make their cell walls. Before the 1600s people thought plants grew by eating soil.

• The first animal to be cloned, Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996 but botanists began cloning plants in the 1950s.

•Pollen is not actually plant sperm!!!! Pollen is the microspore stage of angiosperms. It is actually a fully formed microscopic plant. Seriously, look it up if you don’t believe me.

•Leaves are technically plant organs.

•Juniper berries are not true berries. They are not made like fruits are, because fruits come from angiosperms (flowering plants) and junipers are a type of gymnosperm (conifers and cycads). Juniper berries are really just fleshy cones.

•Plants need soil for a special reason. Unlike just plain old dirt, soil contains something called soil solution which has positively charged ions the the plant needs to grow. This is why areas that are over-farmed become dead zones. All the cations have been absorbed.

•The little dots on the undersides of true ferns are called sori and they produce spores.

•If you cut off the top of a plant it will never grow any taller. You have removed the shoot apical meristem. By removing it you have inhibited the release of a certain hormone that will then cause the plant to grow side to side and become more bushy. This technique is how bush sculpting is possible.

•Any plant that does not produce wood is referred to as an herbaceous plant.

•Carnivorous plants like Venus flytrap and pitcher plants only catch insects for minerals. They still get all of their energy from photosynthesis but they need the bugs for things like nitrogen. This is because they are usually native to areas with low nutrient, acidic soils.

• All plants make spores but only some plants make seeds.

TLDR; plants are still cool as hell

“Somehow these E. woodii survived the catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs, got through five different ice ages, learned to live with bigger, newer trees, conifers, leaf bearers, then a profusion of fruiting and flowering plants, got pushed into smaller, then even smaller spaces until there were merely tens of thousands, then thousands, then hundreds and then, perhaps, just this one.”

-“The Loneliest Plant in the World” by Robert Krulwich on NPR Science Blog

This article was really interesting. I mean, Krulwich is always witty and engages his readers by addressing modern behaviors of our kind with the subject of the article (that is if the subject is not human), but this one was so dramatic. Richard Fortey, a biologist, said, “Surely this is the most solitary organism in the world.” This plant will just grow old, forever longing to have a mate to produce its successors. It’s almost like the Doctor; the Time Lord is the last of its kind, forever traveling through time with a human companion. Imagine being the last human to live on Earth and you’re hopeless because you can’t continue your species (unless you knew how to clone). By the way, this tree can be cloned, but it wouldn’t be the same. It just wouldn’t. It needs a girlfriend (because this tree is male). Krulwich also mentioned the ents from The Lord of the Rings because they too were desperate for female ents to continue its species, but the “entwives” were gone forever.