plants

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China's Hunger for Ginseng Is Wiping It Out in Appalachia

The lucrative root is prized by poachers looking for a quick buck

(Newser) - A gold rush of sorts is taking place in Appalachia, but this one involves the plant ginseng. As a story by Suzy Khimm at Foreign Policy lays out in fascinating detail, the root is a hot commodity in China because of its purported medicinal values, but wild ginseng is practically... More »

The Planet Is Getting Greener Thanks to Pollution

But that doesn't mean global warming is a good thing

(Newser) - Dozens of scientists were shocked to find a dramatic increase in plant life around the world over the past 33 years instead of the global-warming-related "browning" they expected to find in their analysis of satellite data, Australia's ABC reports. According to a press release , a study published Monday... More »

Shocking Number of Cacti Face Extinction

Study finds that 31% of cactus species are endangered

(Newser) - About a third of the world's cactus species are threatened with extinction, the International Union for Conservation of Nature warns in a new report. The study evaluated 1,478 species and determined that 31% are endangered due to factors such as the conversion of wilderness areas to farming and... More »

As Big Mammals Die Off, Planet Suffers a Poop Shortage

The flow of phosphorous and other nutrients has declined dramatically

(Newser) - Earth isn't just dealing with the loss of big mammals, such as elephants, whales, and rhinos. It's also faced with a dramatic reduction in their poop, which could have profound effects on the planet's ecosystems, reports Red Orbit . Researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy ... More »

Corpse Flower Stinks Up Chicago, Celebration Ensues

No, it's not Spike making Chicago Botanic Garden reek—it's Alice

(Newser) - Go ask Alice when you want to stink up the place. Unlike the dud that Spike the corpse flower turned out to be, another titan arum at the Chicago Botanic Garden came through Monday night and started blooming, emitting the plant's signature stench throughout the garden's Semitropical Greenhouse,... More »

World's '1st Flower' Dates Back 130M Years

The oldest known flowering plant, found in Spain, was aquatic

(Newser) - The world's oldest known flower dating back 130 million years is an aquatic species called Montsechia found fossilized in limestone deposits in Spain. But it wouldn't necessarily be recognized as a flower today, given it didn't boast petals or nectar-producing structures. "The fruit contains a single... More »

Michigan Warns: This Plant Can Blind You

Steer clear of the giant hogweed

(Newser) - Today's reminder that Mother Nature has the upper hand: western Michigan officials are warning the public about the possible presence of a plant that looks a bit like Queen Anne's lace—and has the ability to blind you. The Calhoun County Public Health Department says it identified and... More »

Could 'Thunder God Vine' Extract End Obesity?

Mice fed extract from Chinese plant lost weight, big-time

(Newser) - Could a Chinese plant make our lifestyle of dieting, exercise, and rampant obesity a thing of the past? Well, a new study says that mice given an extract from the plant—known as "thunder god vine"—ate as much as 80% less than their counterparts and lost 45%... More »

Poachers Threaten Existence of Venus Flytraps in Wild

It's now a felony to take them, as four men arrested in North Carolina found out

(Newser) - Four men caught skulking around a nature preserve in North Carolina earlier this month have learned all about a new state law: It's now a felony to pick a Venus flytrap in the wild. The men, ages 22 to 49, were caught with 970 of the plants and earned... More »

Female Ferns Can Turn Their Neighbors Male

Plants communicate via pheromone

(Newser) - If you're a Japanese climbing fern, your sex may be up to those living around you. That's thanks to communication between the plants involving a pheromone called gibberellin, Vox reports. Early-maturing plants, which tend to become female, start developing the pheromone, but they don't finish. Instead, these... More »

Beef: Meat Industry's Worst Eco-Offender

Raising cattle takes up 160 times as much land as plants, study finds

(Newser) - Think drive-thru cheeseburgers are cheap? Think again. What may be light on the wallet is heavy on the planet, according to a new study on the environmental costs per calorie of beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and eggs—which, combined, make up 96% of the calories Americans get via animal sources.... More »

Mysterious Mounds Attributed to New Source

Theory about soil, erosion may not be sexy, but it's convincing

(Newser) - The mystery of the mounds lives on. A mere six months after researchers said computer modeling proved pocket gophers , over the course of several hundred years of scurrying and burrowing, formed the bizarre-patterned earthen "Mima mounds" in Washington state, a new team of researchers claims that plants are in... More »

It's a Blob. It's Green Sherbet. No...

The weird Llareta plant grows in Chile's Atacama Desert

(Newser) - Hikers in the Andes Mountains could mistake it for a green blob. Or melting lime sherbet. But what seems like a weird, lumpy thing is really Llareta, a plant of the Apiaceae family that's related to fennel, carrots, and parsley, NPR reports. Two neat factoids: It's actually firm,... More »

Newly Found Plant Eats Nickel

It has big potential in green technology

(Newser) - A newly discovered plant from the Philippines has an unusual appetite—for nickel. In a press release on the find, researchers explain Rinorea niccolifera is a nickel hyperaccumulator, meaning it can absorb up to 18,000 parts per million of the metal in its leaves. That's a "normally... More »

Plants Can Do Arithmetic: Study

Leaves can calculate exactly how much starch a plant will need each night

(Newser) - How do plants survive without starving through the night when there's no sunlight to nourish them? Simple arithmetic. A study by UK scientists to be published in the journal eLife found that plants precisely calculate and adjust the amount of starch to store and consume overnight, to make sure... More »

Upside to Drought: Gorgeous Fall Leaves

Less water leads to less chlorophyll and more colors

(Newser) - The lack of rain this year could elicit a dazzling side effect in the fall: exceptionally colorful leaves. That's because below-average rainfall in the Northeast may cause trees to shut down production of a chemical called chlorophyll earlier than usual. Without it, various pigments like carotenes and xanthophyll (yellow... More »

Why Are Tomatoes Red? Blame Meteor

Dinosaur-killing impact forced the tomato into big changes, say scientists

(Newser) - Why are tomatoes red? The same reason dinosaurs were killed off, say scientists. The massive meteorite that struck Earth 60 to 70 million years ago created extremely harsh conditions that forced the evolution of the tomato into its current red and edible form, reports Phys.org . Researchers discovered this connection... More »

Farming's Future: No More Plows?

'No-till' agriculture is eco-friendly and rising in popularity

(Newser) - A transformation in farming may be under way, one that leaves plows in the dust. It's called "no-till" farming, and the AFP (via Raw Story ) catches up with the growing trend in Indiana. The idea is that a plow—or on a smaller scale, a garden shovel—... More »

32K-Year-Old Plant Brought Back to Life

Arctic plant found by Russian scientists may be oldest ever revived

(Newser) - A flower that last bloomed when saber-toothed cats roamed the Earth is once again alive and growing. Russian scientists say they've dug up remnants of a 32,000-year-old plant from Siberia's frozen wasteland and successfully cloned 36 more of them from its fruit tissue, the New York Times... More »

Thank Moss for Livable Planet

Plant may have prompted major shift in ancient climate

(Newser) - About 480 million years ago, the planet was a much hotter place—and we have moss to thank for the habitable Earth we enjoy today, research suggests. Back then, 16 times as much carbon dioxide existed in the atmosphere, scientists think. Some 20 million years later, carbon dioxide levels had... More »

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