Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Lesson in the Stranger Things about Plants. Celebrating the Weird and Wacky Wonders of the Plant Kingdom, Experts Christina Harrison and Lauren Gardiner Explore Some of the More Outlandish Facts about Plants in Their New Book, Bizarre Botany. HANNAH STEPHENSON Finds out More

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Lesson in the Stranger Things about Plants. Celebrating the Weird and Wacky Wonders of the Plant Kingdom, Experts Christina Harrison and Lauren Gardiner Explore Some of the More Outlandish Facts about Plants in Their New Book, Bizarre Botany. HANNAH STEPHENSON Finds out More

Article excerpt

Byline: HANNAH STEPHENSON

DID you know that poison dart frogs raise their young in tank bromeliads high up in the rainforest canopy? Or that juniper wood once fuelled illicit whisky distilleries? These and a plethora of other amazing facts - which plants are the tallest and smallest, the smelliest and deadliest - have been collated by Christina Harrison, a specialist in plant ecology and garden history, and Lauren Gardiner, a research fellow at Kew, for their latest book, Bizarre Botany, an A to Z revealing some of the quirkiest stories about plants.

"We are fascinated by plants, but we are also Honeybees fans of excited by how many unusual and fantastic new plant stories we hear all the time, from bizarre uses of plants to discoveries of strange new interactions between plants and animals, insects or fungi," the authors explain.

Here are 10 of their findings - test your green-fingered relatives on their knowledge of flora and fauna on New Year's Day.

BULBS can alleviate dementia.

1 Extract of some species of snowdrop and daffodil contain galantamine, which has been shown to help nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other, thus relieving some symptoms of dementia.

2 THE Ginkgo biloba tree, commonly known as the maidenhair tree, is extraordinarily resistant to forces that would kill most other plants.

are caffeine. Six such trees grow around a mile from the centre of Hiroshima, Japan, having survived the 1945 atomic bombing.

At that distance from ground zero, almost everything else living died instantly, but the burnt trees survived, re-grew and are still growing today.

Fancy a coffee? 3 Surprisingly, honeybees also like caffeine.

Some plants like the coffee plant and citrus species have a dash of caffeine in their nectar to help honeybees remember their flower as a good source of nectar and to encourage the bees to keep coming back.

4 PLANTS can be masters of disguise. Dracula orchids that grow in the cloud forests of Ecuador lure in fruit flies as pollinators by pretending to be mushrooms.

Their petals resemble a mushroom and they also emit a mushroomy scent.

5 KNOW which plants were used in the Egyptian art of embalming? Tutankhamun is thought to have been embalmed in the traditional way - washed and oiled, then wrapped in layers of linen bandages made from the flax plant, among which were placed juniper berries.

Once the body was mummified, fresh floral garlands were draped over it, featuring olive and date palm leaves, pomegranate and willow leaves, cornflower and chamomile. …

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