This plant drives its own robot

Elowan is a "plant-robot hybrid" that uses its own bio-electromechanical signaling to drive itself around toward light sources. From an explanation by researcher Harpreet Sareen and his colleagues at the MIT Media Lab:

In this experimental setup, electrodes are inserted into the regions of interest (stems and ground, leaf and ground). The weak signals are then amplified and sent to the robot to trigger movements to respective directions.

Such symbiotic interplay with the artificial could be extended further with exogenous extensions that provide nutrition, growth frameworks, and new defense mechanisms.

Elowan: A plant-robot hybrid Read the rest

Fantastic time-lapse of house plants "falling asleep"

Darryl Cheng posted this fantastic video below on his Instagram account @houseplantjournal. The entrancing time-lapse video shows the light- and temperature-induced Nyctinastic movement ("sleep" movement) of his oxalis and maranta plants.

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I'm pleased to bring you this collab between HPJ and @angusandceleste - showing two of my favourite daily movers: oxalis and maranta. - The oxalis is wearing the latest from @angusandceleste - a Hand-thrown Boulder Pot, complete with matching wire stand. - I've teamed with Angus & Celeste to give you $10 off when you use the code: HOUSEPLANTJOURNAL at checkout ($50 minimum purchase) ~ ~ #angusandceleste #styleathome #oxalis #oxalistriangularis #plantdaddy #containerplants #plantsarefriends #plantdaddy #timelapse #livingwithplants #plantaddict #plantobsession #plantsathome #instaplant #planttherapy #houseplants #indoorplants #oddlysatisfying

A post shared by Darryl Cheng (@houseplantjournal) on Oct 27, 2018 at 7:57am PDT

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Trippy timelapse of two plants over a 24-hour period

Watch as two houseplants, and Oxalis and a Maranta, move throughout a 24-hour period in this cool timelapse video by Instagrammers houseplantjournal.

Watch it in its entirety here.

If you liked that one, watch this from a few years ago. It shows a plant come back to life after watering it:

(Geekologie) Read the rest

Liverworts contain psychoactive cannabinoid

A new molecular study shows that a compound called perrotetinene in certain species of liverworts is actually a psychoactive cannabanoid. From Science News:

A group of Japanese scientists in 1994 discovered perrotetinene in liverworts, but the new study is the strongest evidence yet that the compound is a psychoactive cannabinoid. Previously, cannabis was the only plant known to produce such cannabinoids....

After mapping perrotetinene’s molecular structure, the researchers created a synthetic version and tested it on mice. The team tracked the animals’ pain response, body temperature and movement — measures of the compound’s psychoactivity. The results suggested that perrotetinene may be slightly less psychoactive than THC, says study coauthor Jürg Gertsch, a biochemist at the University of Bern in Switzerland. The liverwort compound may also have fewer negative side effects such as memory loss and loss of coordination, he says.

"Uncovering the psychoactivity of a cannabinoid from liverworts associated with a legal high" (Science Advances)

illustration: "Hepaticae" from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur, 1904 Read the rest

Hypnotic video of 3D-printed plant forms undulating underwater

Hydrophytes are 3D-printed multimaterial forms that explore the possibilities for engineered plants of the future. Read the rest

Watch indoor plants sway from a breeze half a world away

Artist David Bowen (previously) has produced a new video of his expanded tele-present wind project, where indoor plants in Spain are moved by an outdoor plant buffeted by winds in Minnesota. Read the rest

Beautiful gardens in the back of Japanese mini pickup trucks

The Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors' Kei Truck Garden Contest challenges people to transform the beds of their miniature pickup trucks into lovely mobile gardens. From Spoon & Tamago:

Other than using the kei truck there are very few limitations and landscapers have incorporated everything from benches and aquariums to elements of lighting into their designs. Judges then rank the entries based on planning, expression, design, execution and environment.

See more here.

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How to make Worm Tea

Over at Popular Science, Jim Shaw, proprietor of Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, posted his recipe for Worm Tea, an organic liquid fertilizer and insecticide. The key ingredient is three pounds of castings, also known as worm shit. Shaw writes:

Collect 2 to 3 pounds of castings (or buy them from us). Next, pack them in a porous cloth, such as a burlap bag or even a pillowcase, to make a jumbo tea bag. Then dunk the bag in 2 to 3 gallons of lukewarm water, and soak it overnight. Finally, squeeze the bag; you just brewed your own worm tea.

Spray the Worm Tea on the plants or pour it at the stem. For best results, don't drink it.

"How to brew worm tea" (Popular Science) Read the rest

Why tumbleweeds tumble

Recently, Carla posted about tumbleweeds invading Victorville, California leading to numerous 911 calls. Why do tumbleweeds tumble though? To make more tumbleweeds of course. From KQED's Deep Look:

Starting in late fall, (tumblweeds) dry out and die, their seeds nestled between prickly dried leaves. Gusts of wind easily break dead tumbleweeds from their roots. A microscopic layer of cells at the base of the plant — called the abscission layer — makes a clean break possible and the plants roll away, spreading their seeds. When the rains come, an embryo coiled up inside each seed sprouts.

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Tomato plants can detect an imminent animal attack

Tomato plants can detect the telltale sign of nearby snails -- slime -- and release an enzyme that deters those and other pests before they even touch the leaves, according to new research. The defense mechanism also keeps caterpillars from munching on the plants. From Scientific American:

“None of the plants were ever actually attacked,” says University of Wisconsin-Madison ecologist John Orrock. “We just gave them cues that suggested an attack was coming, and that was enough to trigger big changes in their chemistry...”

The research was comprehensive, (adds UC Davis plant communications expert Richard Karban who was not involved in the study), but he wonders how the tomato plants detected chemicals in snail slime that never actually touched them.

“That's the million-dollar question,” Orrock says. He hopes future research will tease out the mechanisms that enable plants to perceive these relatively distant cues.

“That's the million-dollar question,” Orrock says. He hopes future research will tease out the mechanisms that enable plants to perceive these relatively distant cues.

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Analysis of North America's weeds reveal the crops, trade, and cuisine of early indigenous people

Cornell archaeobotanist Natalie Mueller harvests "weeds" from across North America, seeking the remnants of "lost crops," the plants cultivated by the people who lived here 2,000 years ago.

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Researchers infuse plants with chemicals to glow for hours

MIT researchers have figured out how to infuse common plants like watercress and arugula with luciferase, the chemical that makes fireflies glow. The process make the plants emit a dim glow for up to four hours.

Via MIT:

Previous efforts to create light-emitting plants have relied on genetically engineering plants to express the gene for luciferase, but this is a laborious process that yields extremely dim light. Those studies were performed on tobacco plants and Arabidopsis thaliana, which are commonly used for plant genetic studies. However, the method developed by Strano’s lab could be used on any type of plant. So far, they have demonstrated it with arugula, kale, and spinach, in addition to watercress.

For future versions of this technology, the researchers hope to develop a way to paint or spray the nanoparticles onto plant leaves, which could make it possible to transform trees and other large plants into light sources.

“Our target is to perform one treatment when the plant is a seedling or a mature plant, and have it last for the lifetime of the plant,” Strano says. “Our work very seriously opens up the doorway to streetlamps that are nothing but treated trees, and to indirect lighting around homes.”

Engineers create plants that glow (MIT) Read the rest

Watch these hypnotic transplanting machines

This nifty little device is used in a lot of larger greenhouses. Transplanting delicate seedlings used to be done by hand on long conveyor belts. One facility said it took 35 workers to do as much as the machine. Read the rest

Charming animated primer on plant communication

Illustrator Yukai Du created this lovely animation of Richard Karban's TED talk on plant communication. Read the rest

This garden can kill you

The delightful grounds of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England contain such alluring settings as the Poison Garden, home to more than 100 species of plants that are deadly to humans. Please meet the head gardener, Trevor Jones, who must wear protective gear when he's digging in the dirt.

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Michael Pollan discusses how time-lapse photography reveals the hidden life of plants

Writer Michael Pollan provides play-by-play commentary on these time-lapse videos of plants striving to reach a pole. It really does seem like the plants have a conscious intention to meet a goal. I missed this video when the New Yorker first ran it in 2014. Read the rest

Native American Church members fight harassment by authorities

Editor's note: The Oklevueha Native American Church, or ONAC, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the legal freedom to observe Native American spiritual traditions. Some of these involve sacramental or medicinal use of various plants: Peyote, Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Cannabis, Mushrooms and others. I am an ONAC member. While law varies state by state, those who grow or use these plants--Native Americans, or otherwise--risk arrest, property confiscation, legal harassment, and police abuse. One of ONAC's members in California was recently arrested, and his property confiscated, shortly after local law enforcement were notified they have no right to do these things. ONAC is holding a press conference today to announce their response. —Xeni Jardin

There will be a press conference today, 2 PM at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa California, at 170 Railroad Street.

Noted Constitutional and Civil Rights Lawyer Matt Pappas will be announcing lawsuits and other legal actions against a number of Law Enforcement and County officials and entities.

These legal actions have become necessary because of repeated abuses of power and evidence of collusion by these groups to deprive members of the Native American Church of their Native Ceremonies and Sacraments by raiding their sacred grounds, confiscating their objects of worship and destroying the sacraments and medicines.

All of these items are protected under the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. These protections have repeatedly been upheld by numerous court cases around the country including the US Supreme Court, US District Courts and State Supreme Courts. Read the rest

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