Melburnians admire the first primrose to arrive in the colony, transported by a Wardian case, in Edward Hopley’s A Primrose from England, circa 1855.
Bendigo Art Gallery, Gift of Mr and Mrs Leonard Lansell 1964.
A wood and glass case invented in the early 19th-century transformed the movement of plants around the world. In Melbourne, several thousand people greeted a primrose on its arrival from England.
Sanpaper fig header.
Sandpaper figs are the swiss army knife of Australian flora.
The Bunya pine is a unique and majestic Australian tree that commands respect.
A shepherd with his flock in the Netherlands.
Humans have long been trying differentiate themselves from the rest of the biological world. Is it because we're superior, or just insecure?
Flowers above, traps below.
Venus flytrap plants have 'traps' that snap shut on insect prey. But they also rely on insects for pollination. New research suggests how the plant avoids eating its allies.
Mueller came to Australia in the mid 19th century - and gave women a rare opportunity to be involved in science.
We often focus on the “science” part of citizen science. The “citizen” is important as well. It reminds us that we are part of something greater than ourselves, with a duty to generations to come.
Detail from Rachel Ruysch, Still life with flowers in a glass vase, 1716, oil on canvas, 48.5 x 39.5 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
During her lifetime, the paintings of Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch sold for higher prices than those of Rembrandt. Why, then, have her talents not been more widely acknowledged in the centuries since?
Though not this obvious from the outside, plants are keeping time.
Precisely calibrated timekeepers are found in organisms from all domains of life. Biologists are studying how they influence plant/pathogen interactions – what they learn could lead to human medicines.
Ferns are a very old group of plants that came along more than 200 million years before the dinosaurs walked the earth.
Marcella Cheng/The Conversation
Ferns came along more than 200 million years before the dinosaurs walked the Earth. They were food for plant-eating dinosaurs and they're really great survivors. Heather, age 8, wants to know more.
Spend many months attached to the ISS and see how well you grow.
If you want to live on Mars, you're going to need to grow food. Seeds are naturally equipped to handle challenging Earth environments, but how well can they survive what they'll encounter off-planet?
Plants make proteins based on whatever genetic material you give them.
Carl Davies, CSIRO
Inserting a random DNA mishmash into a plant or bacterium directs it to make a novel protein. Sifting through the resulting molecules, researchers may find ones have medical or agricultural uses.
Peacock butterfly (Inachis io) photographed at Thésée-la-Romaine, France.
Daniel Jolivet / Flickr
The caterpillar and the butterfly: two forms, a single individual? A biologist and a philosopher explore this paradox.
It was all the apple’s fault: we’ve been fascinated by poisoned fruit for a long time.
Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678), The Fall of Man, via Wikimedia Commons
Plants produce toxic fruit for everything from deterring fungi to causing constipation.
Specimens in herbaria include “pickled” plants in pots (shown here), dried specimens and fruits or seeds preserved whole.
Ainsley Calladine, State Herbarium of South Australia
Australia's herbaria are a priceless repository, holding around 8 million samples that map historical and current distributions of native and introduced plant species in Australia.
A valuable harvest.
American ginseng, a slow-growing native plant long used in traditional medicine, was abundant in colonial times. Now illegal harvesting and other stresses are pushing it close to extinction.
Genetic techniques can help make pollen useful for cracking criminal cases.
Karen L. Bell
Pollen is all around us, is extremely durable and can provide clues about where someone's been. A new genetic technique will make it easier to use pollen evidence in criminal investigations.
The biggest issue is still getting the kids to eat them.
When botany and linguistics collide: pumpkins are fruits and there's technically no such thing as a vegetable. But try telling that to a five-year-old and see how far you get.
If a plant grows and no botanist is around to classify it…
Traditional botanists are in decline, but this isn't the end of plant science.
New research from the University of Geneva is helping us understand how plants protect themselves from the sun.
Our modern crops need some help in the immunity department.
Andy / Andrew Fogg
Modern agriculture is synonymous with monoculture. That lack of diversity is bad news for plants' natural immune defenses. Researchers are figuring out how to help plants fend off microbes – without pesticides.