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

“Peyote Drummer,” photogravure, Edward Sheriff Curtis, 1927.

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

3D printed chess set where each piece holds a tiny plant

After this Bauhaus-inspired pattern from XYZ Workshop is downloaded and printed, each chess piece is designed as a mini-planter. Read the rest

Living tomato ripeness chart

Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. Read the rest

Deformed mutant daisies photographed near Fukushima nuclear disaster site in Japan

Just when you'd forgotten about all that leaked radiation.

Watch these plants explode

Violets, touch me nots, and squirting cucumbers employ an impressive ballistic seed dispersal mechanism. (Smithsonian)

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DIY: 20 easy ways to hack and improve your garden

Use a punctured water bottle to hydrate plants more efficiently. Turn a kids toy truck into a succulent planter. Spray paint chicken wire and then mold it into striking backyard decorations. With summer just weeks away, here are 20 visual ideas that will get you outdoors this weekend while creating a more efficient and beautiful garden. Read the rest

How caffeine evolved

At the New York Times, Carl Zimmer examines new research on the genomics of the Coffea canephora plant and the evolution of caffeine: Read the rest

Timelapse: Reviving Rose of Jericho plants

Beautiful video of Selaginella lepidophylla resurrected with water. (via Colossal) Read the rest

The plant disease that's threatening your chocolate stash

Chocolate frosty pod rot is not a poorly conceived cereal brand. Instead, it's a fungus that devours cocoa pods — turning them to nasty mush while still on the branch. Quietly spreading through Central America, chocolate frosty pod rot can devastate cocoa crops, wiping out entire plantations. Read the rest

Activists destroy GMO test plot

Golden Rice is a strain of rice genetically engineered to produce extra beta-carotene, part of a humanitarian effort to get more Vitamin A into the diets of people who subsist primarily on rice. The genes that produce the beta-carotene come from corn and a soil bacterium. On the legal end, the rice was developed using free technology licenses that allow the International Rice Research Institute to hand the rice out for free to subsistence farmers, and allow those farmers to save seeds and replant in subsequent years. Last week, anti-GMO activists destroyed a test plot of Golden Rice in the Philippines. Read the rest

After two months of investigation, GMO wheat mystery even more mysterious than before

Two months ago, news outlets reported that an Oregon farmer had found Roundup herbicide-resistant wheat growing in his field. He hadn't planted it. In fact, nobody sells it — Monsanto tested such wheat eight years ago, but never sought federal approval for it. So what happened? After two months of investigation, here's what we do know: It doesn't seem like GMO wheat is invading the US. Testing has yet to turn up evidence of this wheat anywhere else in the country. What we don't know: Why a research plant that never went to market would pop up in a single, unrelated field almost a decade later. Experts' best guess is some kind of mix-up, where a small amount of research seed got mislabeled and later sold. Meanwhile, Monsanto is suggesting deliberate sabotage. Read the rest

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