Articles on Plants

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Need a handkerchief? Num LP Photo/Shutterstock

Why do onions make you cry?

Like many plants, onions have defenses to ward off creatures that may want to eat them. Their secret weapon is a kind of natural tear gas.
A mast year can be a squirrel’s dream come true. Editor77/Shutterstock.com

Tons of acorns? It must be a mast year

Masting is what biologists call the pattern of trees for miles around synchronizing to all produce lots of seeds – or very few. Why and how do they get on schedule?
The talamanca hummingbird, or admirable hummingbird, is found in Costa Rica and Panama. Milan Zygmunt/Shutterstock.com

Not all genes are necessary for survival – these species dropped extra genetic baggage

How many genes do you really need? Are there any that we can lose? Researchers are now identifying species that have streamlined their genome to adapt to a particular lifestyle.
Pulses of light followed by extended dark periods might help make indoor agricultural production more sustainable. DutchScenery/Shutterstock.com

Micro-naps for plants: Flicking the lights on and off can save energy without hurting indoor agriculture harvests

Indoor plant factories have high energy costs since LEDs replace the sunlight outdoor plants get for free. Scientists found a way to dial back how much light is needed by breaking it into tiny bursts.
Matchstick banksia (Banksia cuneate). There are only about 500 of these plants left in the wild at 11 different sites, with much of its habitat having been historically cleared for agriculture. Andrew Crawford/Threatened Species Hub

Undocumented plant extinctions are a big problem in Australia – here’s why they go unnoticed

A recent global survey found almost 600 plants have gone extinct. And this figure is likely to be an underestimate.
The short answer is that leaves fall off trees when they aren’t doing their job any more. Emily Nunell/The Conversation CC-NY-BD

Curious Kids: why do leaves fall off trees?

Leaves fall off trees when they aren’t doing their job any more. If there isn’t enough water, the leaf can be damaged and stop working.

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