Tree grows out of drainpipe

A tree discovered a way to thrive in an urban environment by squeezing through a multi-story drainpipe.

via Gfycat

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Close up video shows how Venus flytraps work

Close-up photography in this BBC video shows how a Venus flytrap works. We see a fly, tempted by the Venus flytrap's nectar, alight on a trap. As the fly sucks up the tasty bait, it brushes against one of the trap's six hairs. This sets off an internal timer in the flytrap. If a second hair is disturbed within 20 seconds, the trap snaps shut.

Image: YouTube/BBC Read the rest

Giant Hogweed infestation in Virginia -- plant causes burns, blindness

An invasive plant species with an appropriately unappealing name, giant hogweed, has been found growing in Virginia. If its clear sap gets on your skin, exposure to sunlight can cause 3rd degree burns, even years after contact. If the sap gets in your eyes, you could go blind.

From USA Today:

Officials in Isle of Wight County, in eastern Virginia near Norfolk and Newport News, posted a warning on Facebook about the invasive plant, which can grow to almost 15 feet.

The Virginia Department of Transportation also reported sightings of the Giant Hogweed in nearby Middlesex County and in Shenandoah County, which is part of the department's Staunton region, according to Richmond TV station WRIC.

See also: New York man fights to keep his giant hogweed plants

Image: 70023venus2009/Flickr Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

(Thanks, Akimbo_NOT!) Read the rest

I visited an amazing cactus nursery

I'm often asked why I like living in Los Angeles. I tell them it's because LA has a never-ending supply of hidden pockets of wonder. On Saturday I accidentally discovered a wonder-pocket in Reseda, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. It's called California Nursery Specialties. It's 1.5 acres of greenhouses filled with 100,000 cacti and other succulent plants. Ranging in size from the tip of my pinky to over 20 feet, the bizarrely shaped and colored plants look like they came from another planet.

The owner, David Bernstein, told me that he started his business forty years ago doing a high school project on desert plants. He sells his plants to other nurseries but opens his doors to the public on weekends. As I spent an hour walking from greenhouse to greenhouse, marveling at the diversity of plants, I experienced a growing sense of awe and joy for life. This is a special place. I didn't get to see everything (I was picking up an order of 30 Christmas tamales from a woman who sells them out of her house a mile away) but I plan to go back with Carla and my daughters. (It is very easy to get poked by cacti, so I don't recommend bringing toddlers or dogs.) I bought a few tiny cacti and I'm going to 3D print some containers for them.

"This is one of the last vestiges of the San Fernando Valley's agricultural roots," Dave said as I snapped his photo.

California Nursery Specialties Open Saturdays & Sundays 11am - 6pm (winter 11am - 5pm)

Location and Directions The Reseda facility is located at 19420 Saticoy, Reseda, CA 91335, 2 ½ miles north of Hwy 101. Read the rest

17 flowers that look like something else

Here's a gallery of flowers, mainly orchids, that look like monkeys, Darth Vader, naked men, human lips, dancing girls, laughing bumble bees, swaddled babies, parrots, human skulls, flying ducks, tiger heads, happy aliens, angels, doves, ballerinas, egrets, and moths.

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New orchid species features the face of Satan

Best orchid species ever: Telipogon diabolicus!

From EurekAlert:

Discovered by Dr Marta Kolanowska and Prof Dariusz Szlachetko, both affiliated with University of Gdansk, Poland, together with Dr Ramiro Medina Trejo, Colombia, the new orchid grows a stem measuring between 5.5 - 9 cm in height.

With its only known habitat restricted to a single population spread across a dwarf montane forest at the border between departments Putumayo and Nariño, southern Colombia, the devilish orchid is assigned as a Critically Endangered species in the IUCN Red List.

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The Botanical Treasury celebrates 40 of the world's most fascinating plants

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The Botanical Treasury: Celebrating 40 of the Most Fascinating Plants through Historical Art and Manuscripts

by Christopher Mills (editor)

University of Chicago Press

2016, 176 pages, 8.5 x 11 x 1.6 inches (softcover in clamshell box)

$33 Buy a copy on Amazon

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England has just come out with a sumptuous collection of “40 of the world’s most fascinating plants.” What makes them the “most fascinating”? For some it’s their appearance or structure, for others it might be their medicinal properties or economic impact. But from the bizarre-looking banksia to the quinine-packed cinchona to the functional bottle gourd, what they all have in common is a fascinating story.

The Botanical Treasury, which comes in a richly textured cloth-covered box along with 40 reproduced frameable prints, devotes four pages to each plant. Each entry includes an interesting tale pertaining to the plant along with copies of historical drawings, photos, letters, maps, journal entries and newspaper clippings. Most of the stories are about the naturalists and explorers who hunted for and studied these plants, but the book also celebrates the plants themselves, highlighting their unique features, uses, and capabilities. This makes a gem of a gift for any botanical nerd.

– Carla Sinclair Read the rest

Slo-mo video of potato cannon shooting watermelon

Truculence and bellicosity in the vegetable kingdom, slowed down for your viewing pleasure. Read the rest

Peeling a thick layer of ivy from a building

"The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines." – Frank Lloyd Wright Read the rest

Dangerous plant that can make you go blind spotted in Michigan

Giant hogweed was introduced to the United States from Asia in 1917 as an ornamental plant. Pretty as it may be, it is more dangerous than poison ivy and can cause blindness if its sap finds its way into your eyes. It has recently been spotted growing along a road in Calhoun County, southwest Michigan. The county health department has warned people to "be cautious." Read the rest

Greedy plant eats over 6,000 insects an hour

"Dripping with nectar, the pitcher plant attracts thousands of hungry termites. But as soon as the bugs start eating, they begin to slip on the sugary liquid and tumble inside the plant."

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Now it's a felony to poach Venus Flytraps in North Carolina

The Venus Flytrap is my favorite plant. It looks extremely cool, eats hideous flies, and has a great name. The state of North Carolina also admires the Venus Flytrap, and will throw any creep who poaches one into prison for up to 25 months. Read the rest