The mighty oak tree is an invader from the North, like the sometimes fearsome Vikings commemorated in Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’. North American oaks trees evolved first in the temperate zone, diversified into red and white oak groups, and then moved south into Mexico. There, oak species diversified further, with more than 150 extant species … More The White & Red Oaks From the North
This is a re-post of a piece I wrote for the All Under One Leaf, the blog of the UK Plant Science Federation in August 2016. It is reposted here with permission. A flowering world There are around 369,000 known flowering plant species on Earth today, by far the most numerous group of plants living … More How Does a Flower Come to be?
It was Carl Sagan’s birthday last week as well as a major election in the US that needs some perspective. And it is clear that science will need more advocacy and storytelling than ever on our pale blue dot, the only home we have ever known. Getting to Green Aroudn 3.7 billion (3,700,000,000) years ago, … More The Long Green View.
Picture a flower now, in your head. What do you see? Say it out loud even, or describe it in your mind (or in the comments below before reading on- honor system, I trust you). Picture a flower now, in your head. What do you see? Say it out loud even, or describe it in … More An Alien Flower?
Go for the sun. It’s a prime directive for most plants on Earth. Gather enough light to drive carbon dioxide, an atmospheric gas, into sugars to fuel growth. The rest of the needed ingredients to build a plant come from underground and the roots. To build more roots, however, photosynthesis has to happen. Go for … More Reach For The Sun.
As you add condiments to your burgers, hot dogs, etc. at a summer barbecue, take a minute to reflect on where they come from. Most are plant products. And a recent study published in PNAS tells the story about how humans wound up with mustard. As life got going, it started to fill new niches … More Cutting the Evolutionary Mustard.
Flowering Flowering is a killer application of the natural world. There are 300,000 extant species of flowering plants, dwarfing any other type of plant. There are only several thousand species of other types of plants (about 15,000 mosses exist today– the next most abundant group of plants). To say flowers are an evolutionary success story … More Flowering time and genetic memory.