A wonderful drug that hides itself when you touch it on the island of Tana

Would a rose by any other name not smell as sweet? Well roses and many other flowers do have a smell we and many pollinators like bees find attractive, but not all flowers are so pleasant. In fact, some are quite revolting. The aptly named “corpse flower”, or titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) smells like it sounds – like rotting meat. Many plants use this strategy to attract insect pollinators that would find decaying flesh attractive, such as flies and carrion beetles. In addition to it’s notable fragrance, the titan arum also boasts the largest unbranched flower in the plant kingdom.

Welwitschia are just youngsters compared to some Great Basin bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva. These gnarly old timers are found in the high deserts of the California White Mountains, and the oldest recorded living individual is a staggering 5066 years old! This tree would have germinated sometime around when Sumerians first started using cuneiform, meaning it has been alive for pretty much all of recorded human history. The exact location of this tree, as well as those of several other ancient bristlecones, are actually kept secret to protect them.

You know what isn’t usually the target of herbivores? Rocks. To avoid being eaten, some members of the Aizoaceae family of succulent plants have evolved to look like rocks and pebbles. These “living stones” are native to southern Africa.

The plant kingdom exhibits an amazingly diverse array of innovations that have allowed our photosynthesizing friends to thrive all around the world. Here’s a quick look at some of the cool things plants can do!

Did you know that the precursor of aspirin was originally derived from the perennial herb meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)? People have been using plant extracts as medicine since antiquity, and the discoveries keep rolling in. One of the most potent anti-cancer agents in use today is paclitaxel, originally derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree (Taxus brevifolia).

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