A series of photos from a walk around Kew Gardens on an autumnal day. All images taken on my iphone.
Hello everyone I know its not exactly near the end of the month yet but I will be taking next week away from all things internet so it’s time for the species of this month! It’s something that has been keeping me going this month and one little specimen of this species sits on my desk every single day it is of course!
Scientific Name : Coffea arabica
Size: Wild plants can grow between 9 and 12 metres tall with open branching systems. In coffee plantations the growth is often more formalized.
Habitat: This species is endemic to the Yemen and Ethiopia. However now there are coffee plantations in Africa, Latin America, South east Asia and China.
Use’s: This wonderful plant accounts for 70% of the world’s coffee production! The coffee we know and love comes from roasting the seeds which are found in coffee berries. The berries are often picked by hand to make sure they’re ripe enough or the plants are shaken so that only ripe berries fall off and on to mats that are placed at the base of the bush.
Conservation: Coffee plantations have been the reason why forest habitats have been destroyed reducing habitats for many species. However, climate change affecting rising temperatures, longer droughts and excessive rainfall has affected the sustainability of coffee plantations.
The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:
Coffee was the first food to ever be freeze dried!
Hello! I have been working on my dissertation for my masters which is all about hedgerows and their conservation. This has meant I’ve got to know the plants in Cornish hedgerows really well so without further a do here are 10 of my favourites!
If you fancy finding out more about hedgerows I’m talking a lot about them in my becoming a master series which comes out on Sundays!
See you soon!
As part of my time off I took yet another visit to kew gardens with a friend who had never been before. Every time I go I learn a little something different and this time I was wondering about colours of plants. Most plants are green in colour but not all! Today I thought we would explore why this is?
Why are plants green?
Plants are green because their cells contain chloroplasts which have the pigment chlorophyll. This pigment absorbs deep-blue and red light, so that the rest of the sunlight spectrum is being reflected, causing the plant to look green.
What other plant colours can you get?
Think of a colour any colour, you can almost definitely find a plant that colour! Often the colours are found in the flowers but some plants have different coloured leaves too!
Why do plants have different colours?
Often the colours are an adaptation to attract different pollinators. The colours come from different chemicals that absorb different wavelengths of light leaving different colours behind!
Hope you feel like you’ve learnt something a little different this Wednesday! See you on Sunday!
Hello and welcome to Day 24 of BEDA, the end is in sight! Today I’m bringing you one of my favorite plants in the whole world. Fun fact when I go to Kew I always make a trip to the carnivorous plants room because they are just that cool! It is of course the Venus Fly Trap.
Size: Plants are built with a rosette of four to seven leaves. Each stem reaches a maximum size of about three to ten centimeters. The longer leaves with robust traps are usually formed after flowering. Flytraps that have more than seven leaves are colonies formed by rosettes that have divided beneath the ground.
Habitat: Bogs and wet savannah, or areas are nutrient poor. Its actually only native to North and South Carolina in the US. However it has been transplanted to several locations across the world.
Conservation: The species are currently classed as vulnerable in the IUCN red list. In North Carolina there is a law stating that the removal of naturally growing venus fly traps are is a felony.
The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:
The coolest thing about venus fly traps is of course there carnivorous capabilities. The venus fly trap is adapted to living in poor nutrient soils because it gains nutrients from the insects. The leaves have very sensitive adapted trigger hairs that when they feel pressure the movement is activated. This then closes the two leaves together and the poor insect is trapped. Digestive enzymes are then released which then turns the insect into a kind of mush and the plant can then obtain the nutrients. It’s a bit gory but I find it so cool! I’m sure that says alot about me in some way!
Normally the plants I’ve looked at in the poisons collection have had relatively unassuming names. However, the blister bush goes for the more direct approach. This is a plant native to south Africa and grows in partially shady areas on medium to high altitudes. It’s leaves look a little like parsley but the shrub itself can grow up to 2 and a half metres tall.
As the name suggests the blister bush can cause blisters but it does it in a slightly unusual way. The surface of the plants leaves are covered with a cocktail of different chemicals. If you were to walk past it and brush these leaves you wouldn’t feel anything untoward at all. However as soon as the area that touched the leaves is exposed to any UV light thats where the problem starts. The chemicals cause a phototoxic reaction which causes blistering and severe itching. It can be extremely gruesome and from reports it can be extremely painful. Some reports have said that it can be like a bad sunburn.
In terms of treatment there are a few methods to counteract the plants defenses. Firstly being obviously not to touch it and to wear clothing that covers the skin. Secondly is that if you have touched the plant to wash the area immediately, cover it in sun tan lotion and then cover the area to prevent the phototoxic reaction. Thirdly, if the blisters have developed to wash them regularly and to keep covered. Once the itching and weeping of the blisters subsides you can uncover them to let them heal.
Either way I’d stay well away from this rather unassuming plant!
“Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman”
Fairyology Episode 7
Hello and welcome to the first of four fairy fridays! Today we’re taking on the fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk. Lets first take a little run through this little tale! Once upon a time there was a woman and her son Jack. They lived on a small farm but were struggling with money. So the woman told her son to go and sell the cow they had. Instead he returns with three magic beans. Jacks mother was not best pleased about the sale. Jack planted a bean and went to sleep. The next day there was a giant beanstalk. Jack then climbed up the beanstalk to find a giants castle filled with gold, but it also had a white hen (that laid golden eggs) and a harp. Jack took the white hen and harp home as well as all the gold he could carry. His mother was ecstatic but then the giant came calling. Jack quickly chopped down the beanstalk and the giant fell and died! Then Jack his mother, the hen and the harp lived happily ever after (1).
So the beanstalk appeared overnight and it grew right into the heavens. Although I know of no plant to grow overnight there are some very speedy plants. So what could the beanstalk be? Well I have a couple of theories!
Theory 1: Bamboo
I’ve written before about the wonders of bamboo which you can check out here. One of its features is that bamboo is incredibly fast growing! It can grown up to 5 foot a year. Its also an incredibly strong plant that would allow the perfect climbing frame for Jack to climb up (2).
Theory 2: Mile a minute Vine
As the name suggests this plant grows really fast. Otherwise known as Polygonum baldshuanicum can grow up to 13 feet in a year! The only issue is that it can be a little flimsy but this does make it believable for Jack to be able to cut it down quickly!
Theory 3: Royal Empress Tree
I had to include one tree and this one grows incredibly fast. It can grow up to 80 ft tall and has massive leaves which would be perfect stepping stones for Jack.(4)
Let me know what you think the beanstalk was on my twitter and I’ll see you all tomorrow!
(1) = http://www.dltk-teach.com/rhymes/beanstalk/story.htm
(3) = http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plant_finder/plant_pages/313.shtml
(4) = https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/details?plantid=1388
Another month has flown by, as they always do! I’m really excited for spring to finally roll around. So to celebrate that my species of the month is actually a genus! Commonly known as the snowdrop! This genus actually has 20 species and have been cultivated to produce giant snowdrops and even yellow ones! The traditional snowdrop as we know it has the scientific name of Galanthus nivalis.
Size: 7-15cm tall. Natural snowdrops only have one flowerhead growing on one stem.
Habitat: Woodland areas and damp areas
Some species of snowdrop are under threat in there natural habitats due to habitat destruction, illegal collecting and climate change. Some species have regulation in their trade under CITES.
The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:
The snowdrop is often considered to be a wildflower in the UK but they weren’t recorded as growing wild until the 1770s and the snowdrop plant may be said to look like three drops of milk hanging from a stem. This accounts for the Latin name Galanthus which means “milk-white flowers”.
I was rereading a book given to me over Christmas called “50 plants that changed the course of history” by Bill Laws. He wrote about bamboo, now I have studied biology for a number of years now and I’ve watched a few presentations on the wonders of bamboo. However I’ve never written anything much about bamboo myself. Well all that is going to change! Here are 5 things that I find completely bamboozling (fantastic word) about bamboo.
Hope you’ve enjoyed todays slightly shorter blog! Also a quick thanks to the new followers here on ThatBiologist, your support means alot! Til next time!
Last time, it’s here if you didn’t read it, I spoke about animal cells. So this time it seemed only right to talk about plant cells. Are they really all that different from there animal counter parts? Let’s find out! As always if you’re feeling lazy I’ve put my 5 highlights at the end!
There are a number of different ways plant cells are different from animal cells. Firstly plant cells have a cell wall. This is outside of the cell membrane that provides protection and structure, it’s made of predominately cellulose. This leads on to another difference and that is shape, plant cells have a more rigid rectangular shape compared to animal cells, which tend to be more varied. Plant cells also contain one central large vacuole, animal cells have smaller vacuoles that are more doted around. The other main difference is plant cells contain chloroplasts which are essential for the process of photosynthesis.
Both animal and plant cells contain a lot of the same organelles. Such as the nucleus, mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum. This will be the topic of the next mini wiki!
Yes, there are loads of specialised plant cells performing all sorts of different functions for plants to exist. Some plant cells synthesise and store organic products, while others help to transport nutrients throughout the plant for example root hair cells. Specialised plant cells combine to form specialised tissues like phloem and xylem.
Bailey, R. (2016). Plant Cell. Available: http://biology.about.com/od/cellbiology/ss/plant-cell.htm. Last accessed 11 July 2016.
Boundless. “Vascular Tissue: Xylem and Phloem.” Boundless Biology. Boundless, 26 May. 2016. Retrieved 11 Jul. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/biology/textbooks/boundless-biology-textbook/seedless-plants-25/seedless-vascular-plants-157/vascular-tissue-xylem-and-phloem-614-11834/
Diffen. (2016). Plant Cell vs Animal Cell. Available: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Animal_Cell_vs_Plant_Cell. Last accessed 11 July 2016.