Plants

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The national flower of Zimbabwe, the Glory Lily, is also found in Queensland where it’s more famously known as a noxious weed that’s highly poisonous to humans. JohnSkewes/Flickr

Little shop of horrors: the Australian plants that can kill you

It's not just Australia's animals that can be deadly, there are plenty of dangerous plants too.
Kisses aren’t the only magic that happens under Australian mistletoe. Margaret Donald/Flickr

Mistletoe: the kiss of life for healthy forests

In many parts of the world, Christmas and mistletoe are inextricably intertwined. But in the natural world, mistletoe has long fascinated naturalists and scientists.
Yew only live twice … Willie Angus

Can trees really change sex?

The oldest tree in the UK is flirting with a sex change after 5,000 years. The question is whether it will it go the whole hog, or this is just a passing fancy.
Photosynthesis is crucial to the ability of plants to convert sunlight into energy. N i c o l a/Flickr

PM’s Prize for Science for revealing nature’s solar power

Distinguished Professor Graham Farquhar has received this year's Prime Minister's Prize for Science for his pioneering research into photosynthesis.
Rivers in many agriculturally significant areas of Australia could lose water as the landscape grows greener. Kerry Raymond/Wikimedia Commons

River flows drop as carbon dioxide creates thirstier plants

Rising carbon dioxide levels are making plants grow faster, sucking up more water and reducing river flows in many agriculturally important areas of Australia, according to new research.
Astronaut Cady Coleman harvests one of our plants on Space Shuttle Columbia. NASA

Taking plants off planet – how do they grow in zero gravity?

Plants on the International Space Station must figure out how to grow in a completely novel environment. Their adaptability hints at how they'll react to changes here on Earth – or in future space outposts.
A bumble bee foraging for nectar and pollen at a turtlehead plant that produces the compound catalpol, which reduced bee parasite load. Leif Richardson

Flower pharmacies help bees fight parasites

Search for information on ‘self-medication,’ and you’ll likely find descriptions of the myriad ways that we humans use drugs to solve problems. In fact, the consumption of biologically active molecules…
Understanding microbial activity in rhizosphere – the critical zone where plant roots, microbes and minerals interface – is critical to promoting plant health. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Tapping the ‘plant microbiome’ to improve farming and plant health

People are increasingly aware of the link between the trillions of microbes that live within our bodies and human health. Studies have found that a healthy population of bacteria, or a microbiome, in a…
Plants use photosynthesis to build molecules and energy they can use. By copying plants, humans can make cleaner fuels. Ranjit Bhatnagar/Flickr

To shift away from fossil fuels, we need to copy plants

Most of the energy that fuels our lives comes from plants. Whether it is a fossil fuel that was formed hundreds of millions of years ago or the food we eat, all carbon-borne energy has its ultimate origins…

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