Bad with Plants? This High-Tech Flower Pot Can Keep Any Plant Alive

If you’ve always wanted to grow plants but aren’t blessed with a green thumb, the ‘Parrot Pot’ is just the thing for you. It’s a smart pot that pretty much grows plants itself, keeping them alive no matter how badly you mess up.

Priced at $99, the Parrot Pot has sensors that measure light, moisture, temperature, and the level of fertilizer, ensuring that the plant always gets what it needs. If it finds that more light, water, or fertilizer is required, it sends the user alerts through a smartphone app called Flower Power. What’s more, it can actually water your plants for you using a pre-filled water tanks. 

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These “Walking Trees” in Ecuador Can Allegedly Move Up to 20 Meters per Year

The Socratea exorrhiza is perhaps the world’s only mobile tree. They say its complicated system of roots also serves as legs, helping the tree constantly move towards sunlight as the seasons change. Walking trees can apparently move up to 2-3 cm per day, or 20 meters per year. That may not sound like much, but it’s pretty much a marathon by tree-standards.

Rainforest guides in Latin American countries like Ecuador have been telling tourists about the amazing walking trees for decades now. The most common version of the story is that the tree slowly ‘walks’ in search of the sun by growing new roots towards the light and allowing its old roots to die. The unusual roots, split from the trunk a few feet above the ground, add to the illusion of the tree having legs.

“As the soil erodes, the tree grows new, long roots that find new and more solid ground, sometimes up to 20m,” explained Peter Vrsansky, a palaeobiologist from the Slovak Academy of Sciences who lived for a few months in the Unesco Sumaco Biosphere Reserve, about a day’s journey from Ecuador’s capital Quito.

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Nemo’s Garden – Italy’s Revolutionary Underwater Fruit and Vegetable Farm

In a bid to explore alternative methods of growing produce, an Italian company has created the world’s first underwater farm. The futuristic station – aptly named Nemo’s Garden – consists of five transparent biospheres anchored to the bottom of the sea off the coast of Savona, Italy. They’re being used to grow strawberries, basil, beans, garlic, and lettuce.

“The main target of this project is to create alternative sources of plant production in areas where environmental conditions make it difficult to grow crops through conventional farming, including lack of fresh water, fertile soils, and extreme temperature changes,” said project spokesperson Luca Gamberini. “We are trying to find an alternative and economically viable technology enabling efficient production.”

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This Ukrainian 220-Year-Old Apple Tree Has a Very Unique Way of Staying Alive

The city of Krolevets, in Ukraine’s Sumy region, is home to the world’s most unique apple garden, consisting of only one tree. Spanning 10 acres, the 220-year-old tree – known as ‘apple tree colony’ – has dozens of individually rooted trunks that constantly spring to life, making it seemingly impossible to die.

The tree seems to have worked out a brilliant survival strategy, and it looks prepared to survive for centuries to come. It started off as a regular tree, but as it aged, its branches bent so low to the ground that they started to take root as well. Every time one of the ingrown trunks dies, its branches immediately bend to the ground and take root. It had only nine trunks in 1970, but that number had doubled by 2008.

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Artist Creates Colorful Collages with Flowers and Plants

Seattle-based Bridget Beth Collins mixes her love of nature with her interest in art to create stunning collages out of colorful flower petals, leaves, twigs and whatever plant materials she can get her hands on.

Collins, gathers materials for her collages from the areas surrounding her home in Ravenna, in Seattle. She then arranges the pieces into intricate shapes, using the natural colors to create a sense of depth. Through her intrinsic understanding or color and texture, she is able to transform flower petals into feathered birds, berries into sea creatures, and leaves into human faces.

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French Botanist’s Paris Home Is a Regular Urban Jungle

French Botanist Patrick Blanc, is known as a master of vertical gardens. During his long career, he has designed hundreds of lush “green walls” that cover both the inside and outside of buildings all around the globe, but none are as impressive as the small urban jungle he calls home, on the outskirts of Paris

61-year-old Blanc makes vertical gardens by attaching metal frames to walls, covering them with PVC and rot-proof felts, and then setting up an irrigation system that dampens the felt and keeps the plants well hydrated. Since 1988, he has created hundreds of these botanical tapestries in public and private spaces around the world – including the Marithé & François Girbaud boutique in Manhattan, the Siam Paragon shopping center in Bangkok and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.

Expanding on his unique method, Blanc worked on his dream home in the outskirts of Paris, in collaboration with architect Gilles Ebersolt. But while most of his professional projects present nature through a formally elegant design, the plants in his home are a tangle of leaves with a mold-smudged ceiling. From the outside, the house doesn’t look too impressive. But once you step inside, it’s like entering a whole new world.

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Being Stung by the Gympie Gympie Tree Is the Worst Kind of Pain You Can Imagine

‘Gympie-Gympie’ is hardly the name you’d expect for a stinging-tree. It looks quite harmless too, but in reality, the Gympie-Gympie is one of the most venomous plants in the world. Commonly found in the rainforest areas of north-eastern Australia, the Moluccas and Indonesia, it is known to grow up to one to two meters in height.

In fact, the Gympie-Gympie sting is so dangerous that it has been known to kill dogs, horses and humans alike. If you’re lucky enough to survive, you  only feel excruciating pain that can last several months and reoccur for years. Even a dry specimen can inflict pain, almost a hundred years after being picked!

With the exception of its roots, every single part of the deadly tree – its heart shaped leaves, its stem and its pink/purple fruit – is covered with tiny stinging hairs shaped like hypodermic needles. You only need to lightly touch the plant to get stung, after which the hair penetrates the body and releases a painful toxin called moroidin. Sometimes, merely being in the presence of the plant and breathing the hair that it sheds into the air can cause itching, rashes, sneezing and terrible nosebleeds.

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The TomTato – A Plant That Grows Tomatoes above Ground and Potatoes Below

An extraordinary plant that produces both tomatoes and potatoes has been developed in the UK. Just one of these bad boys can grow more than 500 sweet cherry tomatoes above the ground, and a decent crop of white potatoes below. Aptly named ‘TomTato’, the plant is actually 100 percent natural, and not genetically modified as one would expect.

TomTato, a.k.a ‘veg plot in a pot’, was developed through high-tech grafting by Thompson and Morgan, a horticultural firm based in the town of Ipswich, in Suffolk, England. Although similar plants have been created in the UK before, this is the first time someone has managed to produce a commercially viable version.

According to Guy Barter of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), taste was a real problem with past varieties, but the TomTato seems to have hit the jackpot.

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Eating This Wild Herb Can Allegedly Stave Off Hunger and Thirst for Several Days

A centuries-old slimming remedy is all set to make a comeback after evidence of its use was discovered in old manuscripts during an archaeological dig. The heath pea is a long-forgotten fern-like wild Scottish plant with purple flowers that can apparently suppress hunger and thirst for weeks. Entrepreneurs are now interested in re-introducing the wonder-herb to the world as a dietary supplement that could produce drastic weight loss results.

According to botanical records, the heath pea, also known as bitter vetch, was a vital ingredient of the Highland diet up until the 18th century, when food was scarce. The pea-sized tubers of the plant were stripped off the roots, dried and ingested. Just a couple of tubers were sufficient to provide a boost of energy, and prevent thirst and hunger for days, even weeks. Entire communities are said to have lived off these tubers when crops were poor.

17th century literature also indicates that the plant helped people perform strenuous activities like working in fields. Monks used it to treat patients as early as the 14th century, and it is rumored to have made an appearance in the court of King Charles (he apparently gave it to his lovers who had a propensity for plumpness). The roots were also believed to be eaten by Julius Caesar’s soldiers in preparation for the battle of Dyrrhachium in 48 BC.

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Thriving Bottle Garden Hasn’t Been Watered in Over 40 Years

David Latimer is one of the world’s few proud owners of an entirely self-sustaining bottled garden. Looking at pictures of the lush green bottle, you’d think that growing it involved a lot of hard work. But the truth is that David hasn’t even watered it in over 40 years. It’s just been sitting under the hallway stairs in his home and it’s doing extremely well on its own.

The story of his this amazing experiment began in 1960, on Easter Sunday, when David decided that it would be fun to start a bottle garden. Since they were a bit of a craze back then, he wanted to see for himself what the fuss was all about. So out of idle curiosity, he got himself a 10-gallon globular bottle, poured some compost at the bottom and used a piece of wire to carefully lower a seedling in. Then he put in just about a quarter of a pint of water, and believe it or not, he only watered the plant once more in 1972. Never again after that. It has been alive and kicking for the past 54 years.

The plant that David placed in the bottle is an indoor variety of perennial spiderworts that also go by the Latin name of Tradescantia. The bottle itself is tightly sealed; David only needs to rotate it around often so it grows evenly towards the light. “Otherwise, it’s the definition of low-maintenance,” he said. “I’ve never pruned it, it just seems to have grown to the limits of the bottle.”

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The Amazing Orchid That Looks Like a Monkey’s Face

It’s not very hard to guess how the Monkey Orchid got its name, but ever since photos of it started circulating on the internet about a year ago, people have had a hard time believing such a flower actually exists.

As photoshoped as it may look, the Monkey Orchid actually exists, and yes, it really does match the grinning face of a very small monkey. The scientific name of this very rare flower is Dracula simia, with the first part hinting at the resemblance between its two long spurs to the fangs of Bram Stoker’s famous vampire count, and the second meaning “monkey” in Latin. It only grows in the mountainous regions of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, at an elevation of between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above sea level, but there are a few lucky collectors who have managed to grow it in “captivity”. The Monkey orchid is not season specific, and in its natural habitat it can flower at any time. As if its striking resemblance to a monkey’s face wasn’t astounding enough, this flower actually smells a lot like a ripe orange, as well. Which is kind of ironic, because with a face like that you’d expect it to smell like bananas, right?

Monkey-orchid

 

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Hooker’s Lips – The World’s Most Kissable Plant

Here’s a dumb question: if (the young) Mick Jagger was a plant, what would he be? Probably Psychotria Elata, commonly known as Hooker Lips or the Hot Lips Plant for the shape of its bright red bracts that resemble two luscious lips.

This weird plant might look like the work of a photo editing software, but I can assure you those kissable lips are all natural. Found in the tropical rain forests of Central and South American countries like Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador, the Psychotria Elatra plant has apparently evolved into its current shape to attract pollinators including hummingbirds and butterflies. Affectionately known as Hooker’s Lips, this extraordinary flower has unfortunately become endangered due to uncontrolled deforestation in the above-mentioned countries. So if you’ve ever wanted to plant a kiss on Mother Nature, find yourself a Hot Lips plant and do it while you still can. The bracts are only kissable for a short while, before they spread open to reveal the plant’s flowers.

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Touch-Me-Not – A Plant That Clearly Doesn’t Like to Be Touched

I first heard about the Touch-Me-Not plant from my mother’s stories of her childhood. There were plenty of these where she grew up, and she had fun playing with them. But no matter how much she described the plant to me, I never could quite imagine how the phenomenon worked. Now, thanks to the internet, I can see it for myself ,on video.

The Mimosa Pudica (derived from Latin for shy), commonly known as the Touch-Me-Not, is very true to its name. It obviously doesn’t like to be touched, because running a finger along the leaf simply causes it to fold inwards. I’m not sure if touch really bothers the plant, but the phenomenon is very beautiful to look at. The exact reason for this peculiar behavior of the Touch-Me-Not is also unknown, but it is believed the plant uses this feature to thwart predators. The closing leaves supposedly scare them away. Apart from the stimulus of human touch, the leaves also close during night time. The plant has its origins in South and Central America, but it is actually found all around the world.

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The Miniature World of the Holiday Train Show, in New York

The New York Botanical Garden has put up a new  Holiday Train Show, which has been attracting several visitors. Held in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the show isn’t very far from the entrance to the garden. The display does feature some trains, but the real attractions are the models of famous buildings made entirely from plants.

The miniature trains weave around the lush plants and flowers, and replicas of the Empire State Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, TWA Terminal at JFK and a few other buildings that are made entirely of plant parts. What’s special about these models is that they aren’t exact replicas of the structures themselves. Rather, artists have tried to capture the defining characteristics of these buildings. Creator Paul Busse, along with his team of artists gathers the material from woodlands around their studio situated in Kentucky, making an effort not to disturb the natural environment. The 100% natural models are created from plant material, with acorn chimney tops and magnolia leaf roofs. The reproduction of Washington Irving’s home has pink orchids surrounding it, one of the branches wrapped like a vine around the entrance. Small plants and flowers are used to depict trees and bushes on a perfectly manicured front lawn.

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Seven Flora and Fauna that Can Only Be Found in the Everglades

The Everglades is home to many unique plant and animal species, mostly because it’s the farthest-north tropical environment in the world. It is the only true tropical forest in the northern hemisphere. The flora and fauna found in the Everglades are without peer.

Fauna

Florida Panther & Florida Black Bear – This entry gets two, since you’re not likely to see either of them. Both species are critically endangered, so count yourself lucky if you see the slight frame and tan fur of the Florida Panther, or hear the inquisitive snuffling of the Florida Black Bear. Well, count yourself lucky, back away slowly, and hope the animal isn’t hungry.

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