Topic: Plants

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πŸ”— Crown shyness

πŸ”— Agriculture πŸ”— Plants πŸ”— Forestry

Crown shyness (also canopy disengagement, canopy shyness, or intercrown spacing) is a phenomenon observed in some tree species, in which the crowns of fully stocked trees do not touch each other, forming a canopy with channel-like gaps. The phenomenon is most prevalent among trees of the same species, but also occurs between trees of different species. There exist many hypotheses as to why crown shyness is an adaptive behavior, and research suggests that it might inhibit spread of leaf-eating insect larvae.

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πŸ”— Pepper X

πŸ”— Food and drink πŸ”— Plants

Pepper X is a cultivar of Capsicum chili pepper bred by Ed Currie, creator of the Carolina Reaper. As of 2023, it is the world's hottest pepper.

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πŸ”— Atomic gardening

πŸ”— Agriculture πŸ”— Food and drink πŸ”— Plants πŸ”— Horticulture and Gardening πŸ”— Genetics

Atomic gardening is a form of mutation breeding where plants are exposed to radioactive sources, typically cobalt-60, in order to generate mutations, some of which have turned out to be useful.

The practice of plant irradiation has resulted in the development of over 2000 new varieties of plants, most of which are now used in agricultural production. One example is the resistance to verticillium wilt of the "Todd's Mitcham" cultivar of peppermint which was produced from a breeding and test program at Brookhaven National Laboratory from the mid-1950s. Additionally, the Rio Star Grapefruit, developed at the Texas A&M Citrus Center in the 1970s, now accounts for over three quarters of the grapefruit produced in Texas.

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πŸ”— Dyson Tree

πŸ”— Science Fiction πŸ”— Plants

A Dyson tree is a hypothetical genetically engineered plant (perhaps resembling a tree) capable of growing inside a comet, suggested by the physicist Freeman Dyson. Plants could produce a breathable atmosphere within hollow spaces in the comet (or even within the plants themselves), utilising solar energy for photosynthesis and cometary materials for nutrients, thus providing self-sustaining habitats for humanity in the outer solar system analogous to a greenhouse in space or a shell grown by a mollusc.

A Dyson tree might consist of a few main trunk structures growing out from a comet nucleus, branching into limbs and foliage that intertwine, forming a spherical structure possibly dozens of kilometers across.

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πŸ”— Silphium: Did Greek science die out because their elite discovered The Pill?

πŸ”— Food and drink πŸ”— Plants πŸ”— Alternative medicine πŸ”— Women's Health

Silphium (also known as silphion, laserwort, or laser) was a plant that was used in classical antiquity as a seasoning, perfume, as an aphrodisiac, or as a medicine. It also was used as a contraceptive by ancient Greeks and Romans. It was the essential item of trade from the ancient North African city of Cyrene, and was so critical to the Cyrenian economy that most of their coins bore a picture of the plant. The valuable product was the plant's resin (laser, laserpicium, or lasarpicium).

Silphium was an important species in prehistory, as evidenced by the Egyptians and Knossos Minoans developing a specific glyph to represent the silphium plant. It was used widely by most ancient Mediterranean cultures; the Romans who mentioned the plant in poems or songs, considered it "worth its weight in denarii" (silver coins), or even gold. Legend said that it was a gift from the god Apollo.

The exact identity of silphium is unclear. It is commonly believed to be a now-extinct plant of the genus Ferula, perhaps a variety of "giant fennel". The still-extant plants Margotia gummifera and Ferula tingitana have been suggested as other possibilities. Another plant, asafoetida, was used as a cheaper substitute for silphium, and had similar enough qualities that Romans, including the geographer Strabo, used the same word to describe both.

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πŸ”— Cashew of Pirangi

πŸ”— Brazil πŸ”— Plants

The Cashew of Pirangi (Cajueiro de Pirangi), also called the world's largest cashew tree (maior cajueiro do mundo), is a cashew tree in Pirangi do Norte, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. In 1994, the tree entered the Guinness Book of Records. It covers an area between 7,300 square metres (1.8 acres) and 8,400 square metres (2.1 acres). Having the size of 70 normally sized cashew trees, it has a circumference of 500Β m (1,600Β ft). The vicinity of the World's Largest Cashew Tree in North Pirangi is also a main place for the sale of lace and embroidery in Rio Grande do Norte state.

The spread over a hectare of land was, unlike other trees, created by the tree's outward growth. When bent towards the ground (because of their weight), the branches tend to take new roots where they touch the ground. This may be seen in the images of the interior. It is now difficult to distinguish the initial trunk from the rest of the tree.

The tree is said to have been planted in 1888. However, based on its growth nature, "the tree is estimated to be more than a thousand years old." The tree produces over 60,000 fruits each year.

FlΓ‘vio Nogueira, Jr., the state secretary of tourism for PiauΓ­, has claimed that the Cashew of Pirangi in PiauΓ­ is, in fact, the largest tree, covering an area of 8,800 square metres (2.2 acres). That tree was studied by a laboratory from the State University of PiauΓ­.

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πŸ”— Norman Borlaug

πŸ”— United States πŸ”— Biography πŸ”— Mexico πŸ”— Biography/science and academia πŸ”— India πŸ”— Plants πŸ”— United States/Texas

Norman Ernest Borlaug (; March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009) was an American agronomist who led initiatives worldwide that contributed to the extensive increases in agricultural production termed the Green Revolution. Borlaug was awarded multiple honors for his work, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Borlaug received his B.S. in forestry in 1937 and Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942. He took up an agricultural research position in Mexico, where he developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations.

Borlaug was often called "the father of the Green Revolution", and is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. According to Jan Douglas, executive assistant to the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, the source of this number is Gregg Easterbrook's 1997 article "Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity." The article states that the "form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths." He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

Later in his life, he helped apply these methods of increasing food production in Asia and Africa.

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πŸ”— Svalbard Global Seed Vault

πŸ”— Environment πŸ”— Disaster management πŸ”— Agriculture πŸ”— Norway πŸ”— Plants πŸ”— Genetics

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norwegian: Svalbard globale frΓΈhvelv) is a secure seed bank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago. Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault is an attempt to ensure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement among the Norwegian government, the Crop Trust, and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).

The Norwegian government entirely funded the vault's approximately 45 million kr (US$8.8 million in 2008) construction. Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users; Norway and the Crop Trust pay for operational costs. Primary funding for the Trust comes from organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from various governments worldwide.

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πŸ”— The American Chestnut Tree

πŸ”— United States πŸ”— Plants

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is a large deciduous tree of the beech family native to eastern North America. The American chestnut was one of the most important forest trees throughout its range and was considered the finest chestnut tree in the world.

The species was devastated by chestnut blight, a fungal disease that came from Chinese chestnut trees introduced into North America from East Asia. It is estimated that between 3 and 4 billion American chestnut trees were destroyed in the first half of the 20th century by chestnut blight after the blight's initial discovery in North America in 1904. Very few mature specimens of the tree exist within its historical range, although many small shoots of the former live trees remain. There are hundreds of large (2 to 5Β ft diameter) American chestnuts outside its historical range, some in areas where less virulent strains of the pathogen are more common, such as the 600 to 800 large trees in Northern Michigan. The species is listed as endangered in the United States and Canada. American chestnuts are also susceptible to ink disease, particularly in the southern part of its native range. This susceptibility to ink disease may have contributed to the devastation of the species.

Several groups are attempting to create blight-resistant American chestnuts. Scientists at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry created the Darling 58 cultivar of American chestnut by inserting the oxalate oxidase gene from wheat into the genome of an American chestnut. When expressed in the cambium of the Darling 58 cultivar, oxalate oxidase detoxifies oxalic acid, resulting in a tree that still gets infected by the blight fungus but that resists girdling of the trunk and survives such infection. As of 2021, the researchers who developed this cultivar are working towards applying for government permission to make these trees available to the public. If approved, these chestnut trees would be the first genetically modified forest trees released into the wild in the United States. Cross-breeding of chestnut species represents an alternate approach to restoring the American chestnut. One approach has been cross-breeding among different partially blight-resistant American chestnuts, with the goal of developing a cultivar with high resistance. Another approach is to crossbreed American chestnuts with Chinese chestnut trees, which are moderately blight-resistant, and then to backcross with American chestnuts, with the goal of creating a cultivar with most of the genetic heritage of American but retaining the blight resistance of the Chinese chestnut.

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πŸ”— Death by Coconut

πŸ”— Death πŸ”— Plants

Coconuts falling from their trees and striking individuals can cause serious injury to the back, neck, shoulders and head, and are occasionally fatal.

Following a 1984 study on "Injuries Due to Falling Coconuts", exaggerated claims spread concerning the number of deaths by falling coconuts. Falling coconuts, according to urban legend, kill a few people a year. This legend gained momentum after the 2002 work of a noted expert on shark attacks was characterized as saying that falling coconuts kill 150 people each year worldwide. This statistic has often been contrasted with the number of shark-caused deaths per year, which is around five.

Concern about the risk of fatality due to falling coconuts led local officials in Queensland, Australia, to remove coconut trees from beaches in 2002. One newspaper dubbed coconuts "the killer fruit". Historical reports of actual death by coconut nonetheless date back to the 1770s.

Another way to "die by coconut" is to suffer sudden cardiac death as a result of hyperkalemia, after consuming moderate to large quantities of coconut water, due to the high levels of potassium in coconut water.

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