This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Amazing Trivia About Plants
Note: This is an image-laden page that takes a while to load, but the wait is well worth it.
Plant & Animal Cells
Diversity of Flowering Plants
Major Botanical Divisions
If you have difficulty loading this page, try the PDF version: Click PDF Icon To Read Page In Acrobat Reader. See Text In Arial Font Like In A Book. View Exam Off-Line: Right Click On PDF Icon To Save Target File To Your Computer. Click Here To Download Latest Acrobat Reader. Follow The Instructions For Your Computer.
Table Of Contents:
1. The World's Oldest Living Thing 2. The World's Oldest Living Fossil 3. The World's Most Massive Living Thing 4. The World's Tallest Tree 5. The World's Hardest & Heaviest Wood 6. The World's Smallest Flowering Plant 7. The World's Smallest And Largest Fruit 8. The World's Largest Hitchhiking Fruit 9. The World's Largest Vegetable 10. The World's Smallest And Largest Seed 11. The World's Largest Flying Seed 12. Longest Distance Traveled By Drift Seed 13. World's Fastest Reproducing Plants 14. The World's Fastest Growing Plants 15. The Fastest Trapdoor On A Plant 16. The World's Deadliest Plants 17. Most Painful Botanical Encounters 18. World's Most Valuable Plant Jewels 19. Dislaimer: Authenticity Of Coconut Pearls 20. Most Complex Plant-Insect Relationship 21. The World's Largest Stinking Flowers 22. Plant & Animal Adaptation Hyperlinks
file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (1 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM]
23. Go To Diversity Of Flowering Plants
he old adage, "records are made to be broken," certainly applies to plants. Each
year gardeners from throughout the world compete with their largest tomatoes and squash, largest potatoes and turnips, largest orchids, tallest sunflowers and dozens of other superlative categories. Authenticated records of their prized fruits, vegetables and blossoms appear in the latest editions of the Guinness Book Of World Records. But of all the botanical records, the most remarkable come from wild plants growing in their natural habitats. These "contestants" compete in a vast natural arena known as the world ecosystem or biosphere. Although most of these astonishing plants are listed in the Guinness Book, several have never been rightfully acknowledged. 1. The World's Oldest Living Thing
p until the late 1970's, the oldest living thing was thought to be a bristlecone pine
(Pinus longaeva), living for nearly 5,000 years high in the White Mountains of California and the Snake Range of eastern Nevada. Then, Dr. Frank Vasek of the University of California at Riverside investigated the strange, circular growth patterns of a flowering shrub called creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) in the Mojave Desert. Dr. Vasek proved that each giant ring of shrubs came from its own ancestral shrub that once grew from the center of the ring. The interesting circular growth pattern can be explained by examining sections of creosote bush stumps (stem crowns) at the base of the shrubs.
file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (2 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM]
he original stem crown splits
and fragments into sections. As the segments continue to grow outwardly (away from the center) they produce new branches along their outer edge.
ver thousands of years the center wood dies and rots away, leaving a barren area
surrounded by a circular ring of shrubs. One of the oldest shrub rings is 50 feet (15 m) in diameter. It has been estimated that it started from a seed nearly 12,000 years ago. During its lifetime the last major period of glaciation in North America (Wisconsin Glaciation) came to an end, the great Egyptian and Mayan pyramids were built, the first human walked on the moon, routine satellites and manned spaceships orbited the earth...and the shrub is still living.
Mojave Desert creosote bush (Larrea tridentata).
See Diversity Of Flowering Plants
file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (3 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM]
ince the creosote bush stump (crown) splits vegetatively into genetically identical
fragments, these sections could technically be referred to as clones. The clone scenario opens up a whole new category for the world's oldest living thing. For example, forests of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in North America cover hundreds of acres. In one dense stand covering more than 100 acres, researchers discovered that all the trees were essentially genetically identical and shared a common root system. This massive clonal colony has spread across meadows and mountain slopes for many centuries. Another massive and very ancient plant clone in North America is the huckleberry (Gaylussacia brachycera), a member of the heath family (Ericaceae). According to the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (1997), a rare and endangered shrub of the protea family (Proteaceae) called King's Holly (Lomatia tasmanica) may be the oldest plant clone in the world. The plants appear to be sterile triploids incapable of producing flowers and viable seeds. The clonal thickets reproduce vegetatively by root suckering and have been estimated to be at least 43,000 years old. Fossil leaves found in a late Pleistocene deposit may be genetically identical to present-day plants.
any crustose rock lichens spend most of their lives in a desiccated state and have
extremely slow annual growth rates. On massive domes and rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, large colonies of the lime-green map lichen (Rhizocarpon geographicum), ashy gray Aspicilia cinerea, and orange Caloplaca saxicola may be thousands of years old. In fact, the colorful chartreuse rock lichen Acarospora chlorophana may only grow a few millimeters in a century. One has only to gaze at the spectacular panoramas of glacier-carved granite throughout the Sierra Nevada to appreciate the magnitude of growth and the great age of some of these lichen colonies.
file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (4 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM]
Left: Spectacular granite domes of Yosemite National Park in California's rugged Sierra Nevada are blackened by colonies of the crustose rock lichen Lecidea atrobrunnea. Close-up view of a hand lens and Lecidea atrobrunnea, a common crustose lichen throughout granite peaks and domes of the Sierra Nevada. The photo was taken at the summit Polly Dome, the highest dome in Yosemite National Park.
Desert Varnish And Lichen Crust Lichens: Nature's Perfect Marriage
Any discussion of ancient life would be incomplete without mentioning a remarkable discovery made in a deep mine shaft near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Bacterial spores of the genus Bacillus were isolated from pockets (inclusions) in salt crystals harvested from an underground salt bed 2,000 feet (610 m) below the surface. The salt deposits were formed from an ancient sea in a geologic formation that dates back about 250 million years. What is so remarkable about these spores is that microbiologists succeeded in growing them in a laboratory. The spores have survived in a cryptobiotic state millions of years before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Another microbe extracted directly from dissolved salt crystals appears to be related to the archaebacteria that thrive in the brine of present-day salt lakes. NASA is interested in ancient salt deposits because the planet Mars and Jupiter's moon Europa once had oceans and may have similar subterranean salt formations. Space missions in search of extraterrestrial life may eventually explore these ancient salt beds. For more about this significant discovery, see the article by R.H. Vreeland, W.D. Rosenzweig and D.W. Powers (2000), "Isolation Of A 250
file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (5 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM]
was nearly 3. Although it may fall short of the world's oldest. All North American plantings of this splendid tree are living descendants of trees only known from the orient. It has been estimated to contain over 600." Nature 407: 897-900. The World's Most Massive Living Thing P rior to the discovery of ancient bristlecone pines and creosote bush rings. Even more remarkable is the fact that at a point 120 feet (36 m) in the air the trunk of General Sherman is still 17 feet (5 m) in diameter.000 board feet of file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. 2.200 years. Petrified logs of this tree have been uncovered from their ancient tomb of flood sediments and lava flows near the Columbia River Gorge of central Washington.Botanical Record-Breakers Million-Year-Old Bacterium From A Primary Salt Crystal. The largest tree.htm (6 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .S. the world's record for longevity went to the magnificent giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) of the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada.000 centuries ago. Leaf imprints of an ancestral species of Ginkgo resembling the present-day Ginkgo biloba have been found abundantly in sedimentary rocks of the Jurassic and Triassic Periods (135-210 million years ago) when dinosaurs roamed the earth. 3. is 272 feet (83 m) tall with a massive trunk 35 feet (11 m) in diameter and 109 feet (33 m) in circumference at the base. They once formed great forests in this region 150. The greatest authenticated age of a giant sequoia. named General Sherman. cultivated by people in temple gardens for countless generations. Plate Tectonics & Continental Drift Fossils Of Ancient Plants In The Wester U. See: Living Fossils At Palomar College Cycads From The Time Of Jurassic Park Ancient Plants That Lived With Dinosaurs Cycads. derived from counting annual rings on a cut stump. The Oldest Living Fossil On Earth O ne of the oldest living fossils--or plant genera that lived during ancient times and still lives on earth today is the remarkable maidenhair tree (Ginkgo). the giant sequoia has the undisputed record for the world's most massive living thing.
a single giant sequoia may contain more wood than is found on several acres of some of the finest virgin timberland in the Pacific Northwest.500 to 2. One enormous specimen of this tree grows in the churchyard of Santa Maria de Tule near Oaxaca. In fact. the trunk of this spectacular tree is literally the size of a house. enough to build 120 average-sized houses. larger than the General Sherman giant sequoia. Mexico. 10 diesel-electric train locomotives. Sequoiadendron giganteum in King's Canyon National Park. S ome flowering trees such as the African baobab (Adansonia digitata featured in file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. A nother conifer species called the Montezuma bald cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) occasionally grows into a huge tree.000 years. or 25 average-sized military battle tanks.Botanical Record-Breakers timber. By way of comparison. this is roughly equivalent to 15 adult blue whales. but botanists now consider it to be a youngster of only 1.htm (7 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . With a diameter of 50 feet (15 m). Called "El Gigante" by the locals. The trunk of General Sherman alone weighs nearly 1400 tons.000 years old. it is one of the most massive of all living things with a trunk circumference of 140 feet (43 m). This gigantic tree was once thought to be 10.
the South American ombu (Phytolacca dioica) and the Indian banyan (Ficus bengalensis) also have enormous trunks up to 100 feet (30 m) or more in circumference. also develop huge buttressed trunks.Botanical Record-Breakers the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy--Part II"). such as the kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) of Central and South America. with 1000 pillar-like prop roots supporting massive limbs that cover four acres. A South African baobab tree (Adansonia digitata). The Indian banyan also has the record for the world's largest (spreading) tree crown. one of the most massive flowering plants. Other trees of the tropical rain forest. but do not grow as tall. The enormous trunk may exceed 100 feet (30 m) in circumference and store 25. [Photo by Paul Armstrong] file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.000 soldiers under such a fig tree. Alexander the Great reportedly camped with an army of 7.000 gallons of water weighing 100 tons.htm (8 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . One large baobab trunk can store 25.000 gallons of water weighing 100 tons.
above-ground mushrooms covering more than a thousand acres of forest soil. Some scientists speculate that it was spawned by a single spore thousands of years ago. aerial roots growing from the limbs. Right: A massive strangler fig (Ficus cotinifolia) in Yucatan with numerous vinelike. French Polynesia. A single individual of Armillaria bulbosa has been discovered that permeates more than 30 acres of forest soil in northern Michigan and may be one of the world's largest living organisms.Botanical Record-Breakers Left: A large Indian banyan (Ficus bengalensis) at the Gauguin Botanical Garden in Tahiti. The trunks in foreground are large aerial prop roots from the enormous tree in the distance. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Some mycorrhizal associations can be enormous. See Strangler Figs & Banyans The South American Ombu Tree M any species of soil fungi have their hyphae intimately attached to the roots of forest trees in a symbiotic association called mycorrhizae ("fungus-roots").htm (9 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The decayed trunk of the host tree is still visible inside the strangler's web of fused aerial roots. Another Armillaria in Washington was recently found to consist of a subterranean mycelial network with erect. Some of the roots have fused (anastomosed) into massive pillars.
as in the 1400 ton General Sherman? See: Soil Fungi--World's Largest Organisms file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. See The Wayne's Word Fungus Article T hese fungal monstrosities are rivaled in total size and mass by a 106 acre. and has literally climbed over mountains and across meadows.000 ton stand of genetically identical quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. The age of this giant clone has been estimated at 10. the question still remains: Do these clonal colonies qualify as a single individual.000 years or more. Any discussion of massive clonal colonies should also include the conjoined polyps of coral reefs. However. 6. As a mycorrhizal forest fungus.Botanical Record-Breakers Mushroom fruiting bodies of the forest fungus Armillaria mellea Armillaria mellea includes a variable complex of mushrooms that are often found growing in massive clusters at the base of trees in the forest.htm (10 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . the mycelium of some Armillaria species may extend through the soil for hundreds of acres. The aspen clone is connected (in part) by a common root system.
but they all arose from a genetically identical root system. which includes cottonwoods (Populus). "The Trembling Giant. 2. and M. M. References: 1.B. Since the aspen is a dioecious species (with separate male and female individuals in the population). The above-ground stems appear to be separate trees.Botanical Record-Breakers Aspen Clone: World's Heaviest Living Organism? An aspen clone in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah is composed of 47.C. The clone has developed asexually by suckering. Like the creosote bush clones in the White Mountains of California. "Genetic Variation and the Natural History of Quaking Aspen. 1996. where new adventitious stems arise from a gigantic spreading root system. with a total weight of 6 million kilograms (6. Mitton. Suckering is a common method of asexual reproduction in the willow family (Salicaceae). Grant." Discover: 83-88. J. this monstrous clone is the same sex. in this case all males. Grant. 1993.C. but they still share a common genome. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (11 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .500 tons). it is quite likely that some of the root systems have broken away. so that some of the trees are no longer directly connected to the clone.000 stems of genetically identical aspen trees (Populus tremuloides). willows (Salix) and aspen." BioScience 461: 25-31.
but the tallest tree known to be standing at present is 322 feet (98 m). regnans well over 300 feet (91 m) tall have been measured. The record for the tallest tree of all time has been debated by botanists for centuries. The California redwoods are rivaled in size by the amazing flowering Australian tree (Eucalyptus regnans). Some amazing claims for towering Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and E. This is not surprising since flowering plants have colonized practically every conceivable habitat on earth. In 1872. At least a dozen species of flowering trees called "ironwoods" hold the title of world's heaviest wood. According to the monograph on Eucalyptus by Stan Kelly (Volume 1 of Eucalypts.Botanical Record-Breakers Aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) commonly reproduce asexually by suckering (adventitious stems). 1977). Wood is composed of dead cells of a tree trunk. particularly the inner xylem tissue when the bark is removed. The World's Tallest Tree T he world's record for the tallest tree goes to another cone-bearing tree native to California. from vast submarine meadows in oceans and bays to arid deserts and windswept alpine summits. The World's Hardest & Heaviest Wood M ost of the other remarkable plant records go to the flowering plants. and many of the trees actually share a common root system. The weight of wood is essentially due to the cellulose and lignin in the cell walls of billions of cells. In fact.5 m) in diameter and 435 feet (132 m) tall was reported by William Ferguson. Ironwoods all have wood with very dense. making it the tallest (or perhaps longest) dead tree. The pure cell wall material has a specific file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. For thousands of years these enormous clonal populations have been spreading across meadows and mountain slopes. 62 feet (19 m) taller than the Statue of Liberty. heavily lignified cells with little or no air spaces in the cell cavities (lumens). In some regions of western North America. trees of E. the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).htm (12 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . 5. entire forest populations (stands) may be genetically identical. the tallest living redwood on record stands 367 feet (112 m). regnans exceeding 400 feet (122 m) have never been substantiated by a qualified surveyor. a fallen E. 4. regnans 18 feet (5.
" owing to the medicinal properties of the sweet-smelling resin. the highly-prized wood was used for end grain thrust blocks which lined the propeller shafts of steamships.0 will sink in water.Botanical Record-Breakers gravity of about 1. But the undisputed world's smallest flowering plants belong to the genus Wolffia.5 (i. This is rather doubtful since the specific gravity of pure cell wall material is 1. and the heaviest and hardest ironwoods approach 1. Since pure water has a specific gravity of 1.4.19. The World's Hardest & Heaviest Woods Table Of The Hardest & Heaviest Ironwoods 6.49. and they range in size from diminutive alpine daisies only a few inches tall to massive eucalyptus trees in Australia over 300 feet (91 m) tall. without any cellular structure). file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. and samples of Olea laurifolia I have tested only weighed in at about 1. [Note: The Guinness Book of World Records lists the South African black ironwood (Olea laurifolia) as the heaviest wood with a specific gravity of 1. cork bark from the European cork oak (Quercus suber) has a specific gravity of 0. and the tropical American balsawood tree (Ochroma pyramidale) is one of the world's softest and lightest woods with a specific gravity of only 0. The name lignum vitae means "wood of life.24.0.5. Under certain conditions it actually wears better than iron.htm (13 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .e. minute rootless plants that float at the surface of quiet streams and ponds.37. Certainly one of the world's heaviest and hardest ironwoods is the Caribbean tree called lignum vitae (Guaiacum officinale).11. The density and high resin content of the wood make it extremely resistant to friction and abrasion and account for its remarkable self-lubrication properties. ironwoods with specific gravities greater than 1. The World's Smallest Flowering Plant T here are approximately 230. with a specific gravity of 1.000 species of described flowering plants in the world.] By way of contrast. In fact.
3 mm wide (1/85th of an inch). then a wolffia plant is about 1020 power larger than the water molecule. or the approximate weight of 2-3 grains of table salt. Successive Orders Of Magnitude: Galaxy To A Proton W olffia plants also produce the world's smallest flower. is small enough to pass through the eye of an ordinary sewing needle. An average individual plant of the Asian species W. It is difficult to say which is the smaller of the two. or the equally minute Australian species W. and 5. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. I f a water molecule is represented by 100. The earth is about 1020 power larger than a wolffia plant.000 times shorter than the tallest Australian eucalyptus (Eucalyptus regnans) and seven trillion times lighter than the most massive giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Another mind-boggling comparison is the size or volume of a single wolffia plant: roughly intermediate between a water molecule and the planet earth.000 plants could easily fit into thimble. One plant is 165. globosa may be slightly smaller.000 of an ounce). An average individual plant is 0.Botanical Record-Breakers E ach plant is shaped like a microscopic green football with a flat top. globosa.htm (14 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .6 mm long (1/42 of an inch) and 0. or 1040 power larger than the water molecule. but perhaps W. angusta. a bouquet of one dozen plants will easily fit on the head of a pin and two Wolffia angusta plants in full bloom will fit inside a small printed letter "o" on this page. It weighs about 150 micrograms (1/190.
The distinctive dorsal margin is clearly visible on one of the plants. The width of one plant body is the same as a single strand of sewing thread. See Straight Pin & Sewing Needle Used In Wayne's Word Articles file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.Botanical Record-Breakers Several individuals of Wolffia angusta placed lengthwise inside the "eye" of an ordinary sewing needle. It is rivaled in size only by the Asian species W.htm (15 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . making this one of the smallest species of wolffia. globosa.
it is almost as large as one entire wolffia plant. it actually has minute guard cells and stomata on its upper (dorsal) surface.htm (16 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . roughly the size of a printed period or the size of an average grain of table salt (NaCl). The spherical bacteria have diameters ranging from 0. they glisten white from light reflecting off sulfur inside them (see the image above). Travis in Science News Vol.75 mm. is about 0. the bacteria are visible to the naked eye. a giant bacterial cell or a microscopic flowering plant.000 to 40. The new species is named Thiomargarita namibiensis. The bacteria were discovered in sediment samples by Heide Schulz of the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen. When light shines on the bacterial cells. an interesting cycad endemic to rain forests of Colombia. they are truly wonders of the world. Germany (see the April 16.Botanical Record-Breakers Wolffia The Size Of A Bacterial Cell Wolffia The Size Of A Cycad Sperm A recent article by J. Any way you look at these amazing records. definitely within the size range of some species of Wolffia. It consists of several spiral bands of 20. But who would ever believe that a multicellular flowering plant could be as small as one prokaryotic bacterial cell. 1999 issue of Science). A single sperm cell from Zamia roezlii. or sulfur pearl of Namibia. In fact. And although it is the ultimate in reduction of a flowering plant. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. 155 (April 17. Sulfur bacteria oxidize sulfur compounds to produce their energy-rich ATP molecules.1 to 0. especially if you consider the size of a single daughter plant that has broken away from the parent plant by budding (see the images above). The pulsating beat of these cilia may help to propel the sperm through the pollen tube on its journey to fertilize the egg.000 cilia at one end. This is certainly the case with Wolffia globosa. Because of their size and light-reflecting properties.4 mm in length and is visible to the unaided eye. 1999) discusses a remarkable new species of sulfur bacteria from the greenish ooze of ocean sediment off the coast of Namibia in southwestern Africa.
In fact.Botanical Record-Breakers E ach wolffia plant produces a microscopic flower (consisting of one stamen and one pistil) inside a small cavity on the upper side of the plant body.9 m) in diameter and weighing up to 20 pounds." Wolffia borealis: Dorsal view of budding flowering plant next to the tip of a sewing needle. The floral cavity contains a single pistil (with a circular. This bizarre plant lives inside climbing vines of the tropical rain forest. the world's largest flower is produced by a parasitic plant (Rafflesia arnoldiii) native to the Malay Archipelago. a rafflesia flower bud breaks through the bark of the host vine and expands into an enormous foul-smelling blossom up to three feet (0. Tiny wolffia plants are commonly dispersed on the feet of water fowl. The length of one entire plant is less than one millimeter (1/25th of an inch). Like a gigantic erupting pimple. By way of comparison.htm (17 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . and they have been reported in the water of melted hailstones. it is sometimes called the "stinking corpse lily. tucked neatly under the duck's bodies during flight. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. In the southeastern United States there are records of wolffia plants being carried by a tornado. concave stigma) and one stamen.
file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The flowers are protogynous. A daughter plant protrudes from a funnel-like budding pouch at the basal end. The pistil has a seed-bearing ovary. The Bolivian bromeliad.Botanical Record-Breakers Lateral view of flowering Wolffia borealis showing the dorsal floral cavity containing one anther-bearing stamen and one pistil (gynoecium). Florida. The entire flowering plant is only one millimeter (1/25th of an inch) in length.000 white blossoms. According to Charles E. bearing more than 8. Hubbuch. The huge inflorescence may be 10 meters (over 30 feet) tall with millions of flowers. a slender (short) style and a circular. with the stigma becoming receptive before the anther matures and sheds pollen. Puya raimondii produces one of the largest flower clusters or inflorescences. Director of Plant Collections at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables. The individual flower stalk may be over 30 feet (9 m) tall.htm (18 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .000 of an ounce). This enormous flower stalk is rivaled by some species of Agave. concave stigma. It weighs approximately 200 micrograms (roughly 1/150. the talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera) of India has the largest inflorescence of any plant.
htm (19 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The World's Smallest & Largest Fruit W olffia also produces the world's smallest fruit. although this record is not as yet recognized in the Guinness Book. Each one-seeded fruit is about the size of a cuboidal grain of ordinary table salt (0.Botanical Record-Breakers See Photos of Different Wolffia Species See: The World's Smallest Flowering Plant Strange Duckweeds From Far Away Lands The Wayne's Word Duckweed Home Page See: The World's Largest Individual Flower 7. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. It is roughly five billion times lighter than a 900 pound squash.000 of an ounce).3 mm long) and weighs about 70 micrograms (1/400.
Ohio in October 2000. But finally. but it also broke the 1. it must be cream-yellow to orange. Many pumpkins are varieties of Cucurbita pepo. and was indeed the world's largest fruit (at least according to contests sponsored by the World Pumpkin Confederation). There have been other unofficial records for pumpkins exceeding 900 pounds.000 dollars.3 mm on a side. the pumpkin once again regained its title of the world's largest fruit. fruits of the duckweed family are seldom seen. the official newsletter of the World Pumpkin Confederation.htm (20 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . New York. Because of their small size (usually only 1-2 mm or less). 1996 at the official World Pumpkin Confederation weigh-in at Clarence. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. A ccording to Cucurbits. the one-seeded fruits of Wolffia species are the undisputed smallest fruits on earth. it appeared that the squash had clearly beaten its long-time rival. For their remarkable 1. they are truly grains of table salt measuring only 0. thin-walled fruit is technically called a utricle. NOTE: When this article was first uploaded and placed on-line in the spring of 1996. the reign of the pumpkin was broken by a 900 pound squash. maxima. the lucky growers received a grand prize of 50. a 1993 record-breaking pumpkin weighed in at 836 pounds and a giant squash tipped the scales at just over 700 pounds. Ontario. if it is green to gray or mottled in color it must be entered as a squash. Two of the smallest are the Australian W. a pumpkin was reported from Manchester. globosa.061 pound mammoth pumpkin. on that fateful day of October 5.Botanical Record-Breakers Fruits of the duckweed family (Lemnaceae). New Hampshire with an astonishing weight of 1337 pounds. The wolffia fruits were photographed in an alcohol (ethanol) solution and the salt grains have dissolved slightly resulting in rounded corners and the appearance of ice cubes. One year later at the "gourd olympics" in Port Elgin. In fact. Not only did a record-breaking pumpkin beat its 900 pound squash rival of 1994. a pumpkin weighed in at 1140 pounds. angusta (shown in photo) and the Asian W. however. bladderlike. In another pumpkin contest held at Canfield. the pumpkin.000 pound barrier where no pumpkin or squash had ever gone before. In October 2002. although the largest pumpkins probably come from C. To enter your prize pumpkin in the official World Pumpkin Confederation Annual Weigh-Off. The small.
9 m) and weigh up to 75 pounds (34 kg). jackfruits may reach nearly three feet (0. It belongs to the same genus as the famous breadfruit (A. edible fruit. 1973). According to Charles Heiser (Seed to Civilization. Jackfruit: Largest Tree-Bearing Fruit Durian: A Large.htm (21 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Native to the Indo-Malaysian region. this tree is grown throughout the tropics for its pulpy. the undisputed record for the world's largest fruit is a 1337 pound pumpkin. a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). thus making them the largest tree-bearing fruits on earth. altilis). Of course. Tree-Bearing Fruit Wild & Wonderful World Of Gourds Go To The World's Smallest Fruit Go To The World's Largest Fruit file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.Botanical Record-Breakers The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) produces massive seed-bearing fruits on its branches.
The largest cones are three feet (0. but they have flimsy cone scales and do not weigh as much. lambertiana) have longer cones. The woody. The undisputed world's largest seed cones are produced by tropical cycads. curved scales are definitely a hazard to anyone standing or sleeping under a cone-laden limb. They may be up to 14 inches (36 cm) long and weigh more than 10 pounds (4. this is one of the most massive cones.5 kg). California's coulter pine (Pinus coulteri) has one of the largest pine cones on earth.Botanical Record-Breakers Left: The world's largest been pods come from woody vines or lianas of the genus (Entada). and the pods may be 5 feet (1. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The heavy cones of Coulter pine with talon-like. heart-shaped seeds of Entada gigas are carried by torrential rains into rivers and eventually into the sea where they often drift to the shores of distant continents and islands.9 m) long and weigh up to 95 pounds (45 kg). such as the sugar pine (P.htm (22 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Right: Although technically not a fruit. They are native to the rain forests of the Old and New World tropics. Other pines. Of all the more than 100 species of pines in the world.5 m) long. gigas). The largest species is called the sea heart (E.
They are also called "elephant tusks" and readily cling to the hooves of grazing animals or your shoes if you happen to step on them.000 to 40.Botanical Record-Breakers Cycads also have the record for the world's largest sperm. In some areas of the southwestern United States they are a nuisance to sheep ranchers because they get entangled in the fleece. A single sperm cell from Zamia roezlii.000 cilia at one end. and are still used to this day for food and in basketry. an interesting cycad endemic to rain forests of Colombia. it is almost as large as one entire wolffia plant! It consists of several spiral bands of 20. There are literally hundreds of plant species with hitchhiking seed pods. Multiclawed forms have also also selected by native Americans because the horns split into 3-4 claws. In his fascinating book. Sea Heart: World's Longest Bean Pod Cycads From The Time Of Jurassic Park Cycads.htm (23 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The pulsating beat of these cilia may help to propel the sperm through the pollen tube on its journey to fertilize the egg. white-seeded cultivar P. but some of the largest are from the North American devil's claw (Proboscidea). Plants and Planet (1974). parviflora ssp. In fact. parviflora var. Plate Tectonics & Continental Drift 8. The long claws are soaked in water and split into leathery strands. The devil's claw fruit is technically a drupaceous capsule with a woody inner part surrounded by a fleshy layer." The fresh green pods (and dried black seed capsules) were important items in the cultures of many Indian tribes of the southwestern United States. Each capsule contains about 40 black seeds which are gradually released when the claws split apart. They provide durability and file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Anthony Huxley (son of Julian Huxley) eloquently describes the hitchhiking pods as "hookers. hohokamiana have claws up to 15 inches (38 cm) long. The rather sinister common name of "devil's claw" refers to the inner woody capsule which splits open at one end into two curved horns or claws.4 mm in length and is visible to the unaided eye. is about 0. The World's Largest Hitchhiking Fruit S eed-bearing fruits that cling to the bodies of animals are very effective methods of seed dispersal in the plant kingdom. The striking seed pods of the domesticated.
however. Assuming devil's claw plants existed over 600. bison. hornlike fruit before is has split open. T he seed capsules of devil's claws are clearly adapted for hitchhiking on the hooves of large grazing animals. During the past one million years of the Pleistocene Epoch. It is also possible that devil's claw dispersal by grazing mammals may be a North and South American anachronism. It is possible that the range of some large North American grazers. such as antelope. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The devil's claw is also known as "unicorn plant" referring to the large.htm (24 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . where the natural dispersal agent for some large seed pods are unknown. were some of these ancient mammals the true carriers of these hitchhiker pods? A similar anachronism occurs in the New World tropics of Central and South America. with the exception of introduced livestock and people (and possibly desert bighorn sheep). deer and elk once overlapped the range of devil's claws thousands of years ago. the Americas were rich in large mammals (such as giant ground sloths) which are now extinct. or an occurrence that is out of its proper time in history.000 years ago.Botanical Record-Breakers intricate black designs in tightly woven baskets made from sun-bleached yucca leaves (often Yucca elata). there are few native North American animals living within the present range of devil's claws that are capable of dispersing these large hitchhikers.
The World's Smallest & Largest Seed file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. then there are a number of possible contenders for this coveted record. The World's Largest Vegetable I f you define a botanical vegetable as an edible part of a plant that clearly excludes seed-bearing fruits.htm (25 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . In order to reduce the size of this file and the time it takes to load. some of which may weigh over 120 pounds (54 kg). [Note: We are not using the Webster's definition which states that a vegetable is an edible plant part typically eaten with your main entree. Some of the top contenders for this record are the blades of large brown algae called kelp. but not as a dessert. and the tender leaves of the horseradish tree (Moringa oleifera).] Remember that pumpkins and squash must be disqualified because they are seed-bearing fruits even though they may be eaten with your main entree. Perhaps a more logical contender for this record are the massive subterranean yams of the genus Dioscorea.Botanical Record-Breakers Devil's Claws: Hitchhikers On Big Animals Wayne's Word Top 17 Hitchhiking Plants The Cocklebur: Nature's Velcro® 9. not to be confused with the true horseradish of the mustard family (Armoracia lapathifolia). the "World's Largest Vegetable" section is placed on another file under the September 1996 Issue Of Noteworthy Plants: See: The World's Largest Vegetable 10.
native to the Seychelles Archipelago in the Indian Ocean.htm (26 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The world's largest seed comes from the coco-de-mer palm (Lodoicea maldivica).Botanical Record-Breakers C ertain epiphytic orchids of the tropical rain forest produce the world's smallest seeds weighing only 35 millionths of an ounce. Although it belongs to a different genus from true coconut palms (Cocos)." A single seed may be 12 inches (30 cm) long. palm seeds are mostly composed of endosperm tissue and generally have relatively small embryos (see photo link below). In fact. eventually coming to rest in the upper canopy of rain forest trees.9 m) in circumference and weigh 40 pounds (18 kg). It should be noted here that the largest seed does not have the largest embryo. They are dispersed into the air like minute dust particles or single-celled spores. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. this enormous seed is often called the "double coconut. nearly three feet (0.
The seeds of some species are no larger than fungal spores and occur in a loose cellular sheath. Duckweed family (Lemnaceae): Watermeal (Wolffia angusta). It absorbs carbohydrates and minerals from its fungal host. In order to germinate under natural conditions. the orchids have the record for smallest seeds. Orchid family (Orchidaceae): Coral-root orchid (Corallorhiza maculata). During early stages of development. the fungus supplies critical nutrients to the orchid seedling. Without any doubt. therefore.Botanical Record-Breakers Small seeds. or it may retain its mycorrizal relationship throughout its life. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Orchid seeds are also grown under aseptic conditions in nutrient agar. The single seed inside is almost as large as the fruit. wolffia seeds are not as small as orchid seeds. The above coral-root orchid seed (Corallorhiza) grows into a nonphotosynthetic mycotrophic wildflower. Mustard family (Brassicaceae): Black mustard (Brassica nigra).htm (27 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Since the seeds have no endosperm and underdeveloped embryos. Poppy family (Papaveraceae): Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Later the orchid may become fully independent. they must establish a symbiotic relationship with a compatible mycorrhizal fungus. there are practically no food reserves. Wolffia certainly has the record for smallest fruits which are not much larger than grains of ordinary table salt (NaCl). which in turn absorbs these vital nutrients from the roots of nearby forest trees. a one-seeded fruit called a utricle. similar to bacterial and fungal cultures.
The individual seed is only about 0. there are practically no food reserves.2 mm in diameter. Certain epiphytic orchids of the tropical rain forest produce the world's smallest seeds weighing only 35 millionths of an ounce. Throughout its life. undifferentiated embryo. The above coral-root orchid seed (Corallorhiza) grows into a nonphotosynthetic mycotrophic wildflower that is completely dependent on its mycorrhizal fungus. With its cellular sheath (seed coat) removed.htm (28 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. like a sterile (axenic) culture of bacteria or fungal spores. eventually coming to rest in the upper canopy of rain forest trees. Later the orchid may become fully independent. The resolving power for an unaided human eye with 20-20 vision is about 0. they must establish a symbiotic relationship with a compatible mycorrhizal soil fungus. there are unusual bacterial cells that are larger than this orchid seed. the orchid absorbs carbohydrates and minerals from its fungal partner. the fungus supplies critical nutrients to the orchid seedling.Botanical Record-Breakers Microscopic view of the seed of a coral-root orcid (Corallorhiza maculata). In order to germinate under natural conditions. They are dispersed into the air like minute dust particles or single-celled spores. During early stages of development.1 mm. Since the seeds have no endosperm and a minute. In fact. orchid seeds can be grown in nutrient agar. One seed capsule from a single flower may contain up to four million seeds. this seed is barely visible to the naked eye. which in turn absorbs these vital nutrients from the roots of nearby forest trees. In a laboratory. The seeds of some species are no larger than fungal spores and occur in a loose cellular sheath. or it may retain its mycorrhizal relationship throughout its life.
Each seed is enclosed in a cellular sheath (seed coat) resembling a short. The seeds are dispersed into the wind like dust particles. a large tree that grows in tidal marshlands and estuaries along the Pacific coast of tropical America.htm (29 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Like other exalbuminous legume seeds. 1976). file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Bacterial Cell Larger Than An Orchid Seed See Another Seed Capsule From An Orchid Table Of Relative Cell Sizes In Millimeters A ccording to C. this tree often forms nearly pure stands just behind the mangrove swamps. Dried cotyledons washed up on beaches superficially resemble the shells of a bivalve mollusk. the record for the largest seed embryo goes to Mora oleifera (Fabaceae). Gunn (World Guide To Tropical Drift Seeds and Fruits. In nature.R. silky hair. Seeds of M. excelsa) has slightly smaller seeds. The seeds float in ocean current with their two large cotyledons connected or separate. oleifera may be up to 7 inches (18 cm) long and up to 5 inches (8 cm) wide. Since the cotyledons are part of the embryo. so millions of seeds are released to increase the odds. the probability of an orchid seed finding a suitable place for germination and a compatible fungal partner are unlikely. Another species (M.Botanical Record-Breakers The seed pod (capsule) of an unknown orchid containing many thousands of minute seeds. this species is certainly a strong contender for the record of world's largest seed. In Costa Rica. the two cotyledons comprise most of the seed.
the leaf is typically divided shallowly at the tip and is not truly entire. Dried cotyledons that wash ashore on beaches superficially resemble the shells of a bivalve mollusk. However. The raffia palm (Raphia regalis) of tropical Africa has huge pinnate leaves up to 80 feet (24 m) long. and Johannesteijsmannia altifrons. There are two additional candidates for the record of longest undivided leaf: Marojejya darianii. The golf ball-sized fruits of Manicaria palms. palms also have the record for the largest leaves. called "sea coconuts. The seeds float in ocean water with their two large cotyledons connected or separate. a palm native to Madagascar with a leaf up to 5 meters in length that is divided only once at the tip." commonly wash ashore on beaches throughout the Caribbean and southern Florida. See Cotyledons Of A Lima Bean Embryo See A Coconut Seed & Minute Embryo See Drift Seed (U) From Mora oleifera I n addition to the largest seeds. and have been listed by some authors as the longest undivided leaf of any plant. this is perhaps the largest embryo of any seed. a palm native to Thailand with a leaf up to 4 meters long that is completely undivided. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The leaves of the Amazonian palm (Manicaria saccifera) are nearly 30 feet (8 m) long. Mora oleifera is a large tree that grows in tidal marshlands along the Pacific coast of tropical America. according to Chuck Hubbuch of Fairchild Tropical Garden. Since the cotyledons are technically part of the embryo. Florida. Coral Gables.Botanical Record-Breakers Seed of Mora oleifera showing the two large cotyledons.htm (30 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .
This is truly the largest seed produced by any plant on earth." those of Gyrocarpus are the most remarkable. 11. Of all the types of "helicopter seeds. Like the coconut (Cocos nucifera). gliding. The World's Largest Flying Seed F Whirling Nut (Gyrocarpus) lying through the air is another effective adaptation for fruit and seed dispersal by plants.Botanical Record-Breakers Provocative Seed Provocative seed and immature fruits of the Seychelles Island Palm (Lodoicea maldivica).htm (31 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The complete fruit (drupe) contains of an enormous. seed-bearing endocarp surrounded by a husk composed of a thin mesocarp and a smooth. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. outer exocarp. including whirling like a helicopter. the seed is enclosed by a thick. woody endocarp. Airborne seeds have several ingenious methods of flying through the air. and floating like miniature parachutes with tufts of fine hairs.
htm (32 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .Botanical Record-Breakers T he climbing gourd (Alsomitra macrocarpa). Although it is large. some of the most symmetrical ones superficially resemble the shape of the "flying wing" aircraft or a modern Stealth Bomber. Seed courtesy of The Cucurbit Network P. gliders and kites. The football-sized gourds hang from a vine high in the forest canopy. and not an individual seed as in Alsomitra. This large. this seed-bearing structure is the actual fruit. Although the seeds vary in shape.O. The enormous winged fruits of the quipo tree flutter through the air. produces one of the largest winged seeds up to 5 inches (13 cm) wide inside a large. streamlined seed reportedly inspired the wing design of some early aircraft. Miami. The seeds have two papery wing membranes and become airborne like a glider when released from the fruit. native to the Sunda Islands of the Malay Archipelago. club-shaped gourd. Florida 33256 USA A ny discussion of large airborne seeds would not be complete without mentioning the quipo tree (Cavanillesia platanifolia). file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. carpeting the ground beneath the huge canopy of this striking tropical tree. A lsomitra is one of the most unusual members of the diverse gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Box 560483. a massive rain forest tree in the bombax family (Bombacaeae) native to Panama. each packed with hundreds of winged seeds.
Botanical Record-Breakers The quipo tree (Cavanillesia platanifolia). This scenario is precisely what happens to countless drift seeds and fruits. most of these drift seeds have pantropical distributions and their precise point of origin cannot be determined. In addition to long ocean voyages. such as sea beans (Mucuna) and sea hearts (Entada) have probably floated longer distances in the sea. thousands of miles from land. The world's record for the longest distance traveled is difficult to determine. a remarkable flotilla of flowering plants that travel the oceans of the world. The Diverse Gourd Family (Cucurbitaceae The Wind Dispersal of Seeds & Fruits 12. however. This massive tree is native to Panama. Some widespread drift seeds.htm (33 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . a remarkable rain forest tree in the bombax family (Bombacaceae) with huge winged fruits. The Longest Distance Traveled By A Drift Seed I magine floating helplessly in the open sea. your destination at the mercy of the wind and currents. the sea heart file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Eventually you might drift ashore on the beach of a tropical island or distant continent.
woody seed coat and internal air cavities enable this remarkable seed to drift for years at sea. As an ocean drift seed. 1976). B ut there is one drift seed with a very limited point of origin called the "Mary's bean" (Merremia discoidesperma). this is the widest documented drift range for any seed or fruit. the Mary's been is known from Wotho Atoll in the Marshall Islands to the beaches of Norway.htm (34 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . a total distance of more than 15. According to the world authority on drift seeds. Gunn (World Guide To Tropical Drift Seeds and Fruits. Named after the Virgin Mary. A thick. See: The Fabulous Mary's Bean Bat Pollinated Sea Beans (Mucuna) Sea Heart: World's Longest Bean Pod Sea Voyagers: Ocean Drift Seeds & Fruits file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The Mary's bean (Merremia discoidesperma) is certainly one of the most elusive and interesting of all drift seeds in fact and fiction. it is also called the crucifixion bean because of a distinctive cross etched on one side.Botanical Record-Breakers (Entada gigas) also produced the longest bean pod of any member of the legume family (Fabaceae). The unique seeds are produced by a tropical liana of the morning-glory family (Convolvulaceae) that is only known from relatively few locations in the rain forests of southern Mexico and Central America. from Central America to beaches of Norway.000 miles. Charles R.
Some plants produce astronomical numbers of seeds and spores in a single season. Under ideal conditions a single plant of the Indian species Wolffia microscopica may reproduce vegetatively by budding every 30 hours. with a spherical volume roughly equivalent to the size of the earth. each with a tuft of hairs that carries them into the wind like a miniature parachute. thus increasing the odds of their tiny airborne progeny finding another suitable substrate high in the rain forest canopy where sunlight is available. [Of course. The World's Fastest Growing Plants T he record for the fastest growth of an individual goes to a tropical species of bamboo that reportedly reaches 100 feet (30 m) in three months. This astronomical number of bacteria (one followed by 650 zeros) far exceeds the number of electrons in some models of the universe. the parasitic pine mistletoe Arceuthobium can forcibly eject its seeds. Some tropical orchids may produce more than a million seeds per flower. Starting with one basketball-sized puffball fungus (Calvatea gigantea). To help in the dispersal process.htm (35 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The World's Fastest Reproducing Plants W olffia plants also have the fastest population growth rate of any seed plant. One minute plant could theoretically give rise to one nonillion plants (one followed by 30 zeros) in about four months. [Note: This is an file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The fuzzy brown spike of a common cattail Typha latifolia may contain a million tiny seeds. you must remember that this fantastic projected number of bacteria is preposterous. The small fruits of this truly amazing plant literally fire their tiny. It has been estimated that if one bacterium divided every 20 minutes and all the offspring lived and reproduced at the same rate. the total number of spores produced in just two generations could theoretically produce a volume of puffballs roughly seven times the size of the earth.] Population Growth For Biology Students Population Growth Of Wolffia By Budding See: The World's Smallest Flowering Plant 14.Botanical Record-Breakers 13. They can easily be felt as they strike tender parts of your body. [Note: Bacteria are the fastest dividing cells in the world. sticky seeds 50 feet (15 m) into the air at a remarkable speed of 55 miles per hour. in one month the bacterial colony would weigh more than the visible universe and would be expanding outwardly at the speed of light. The seeds can travel high into the atmosphere and may cross entire mountain ranges before settling down in a distant march.
In both of these unrelated genera. they could extend for nearly a mile. For some of these traps the actual method of insect decomposition involves digestive enzymes produced by the plant and bacterial decay within the trap. When triggered by an insect. gland-tipped hairs (Drosera) or a sticky (viscid) layer of mucilage (Pinguicula) which entangle the hopeless. and has been clocked at 18 inches a day. A classic passive trap is the "pitfall trap" of pitcher plants (Darlingtonia and Sarracenia). It might be only 50 feet (15 m) in three months.9 m) a day have been recorded--an astonishing 0. It has also been estimated that if all the filamentous hyphae produced in one day by a single massive soil fungus permeating acres of forest soil were laid end to end. and the hapless victim ultimately drowns in a pool of digestive enzymes at the bottom.Botanical Record-Breakers unsubstantiated report. Probably the best known active trap is the Venus' flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). struggling victim. I n active traps.] Growth increments of three feet (0. Bamboo: Remarkable Giant Grasses Photos Of Major Algae Divisions Imbibition: The Power Of Plants 15. the leaves are covered with sticky. those with passive traps and those with active traps. Carnivorous plants may be subdivided into 2 major groups. Three bristle-like hairs near the middle of the upper side of the leaf blade are sensitive to touch and cause the blade to snap shut. Only when one hair is touched twice or two hairs are touched in file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.0002 miles per hour. where an insect falls into a vase-like modified leaf. a rapid plant movement takes place as an integral part of the trapping process. Downward-pointing hairs on the slippery walls prevent the insect from crawling out. World's Fastest Trapdoor On A Plant A ny discussion of amazing plants must include the specialized carnivorous plants that trap and digest small insects and other creatures. one of the most astonishing plants in the world. The Pacific giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) may grow up to 150 feet (46 m) or more in length. The record for total growth in length after a period of time may go to a species of marine algae.htm (36 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Touching one hair will not trigger the closing mechanism. Other well-known passive traps are the "flypaper" or adhesive traps of sundews (Drosera) and butterworts (Pinguicula). the leaf blade folds closed along its midrib bringing the two halves together.
Botanical Record-Breakers succession will the leaf blade fold closed. As a result. This strategy generally prevents an inanimate object (such as a pebble or small stick) from activating the trap. This causes the walls to squeeze inward and explains their slightly concave appearance. Numerous. tiny glands inside the bladder absorb most of the internal water and expel it on the outside. Support tissue and a mucilage coating around the door frame helps to seal the door and prevent water from entering the bladder. and certainly the most rapid. a partial vacuum is produced inside the bladder and the pressure on the outside becomes greater than inside. T he only carnivorous plant with a true "trapdoor" is the remarkable bladderwort (Utricularia). Digestive enzymes from glands on the leaf surface break down the proteins of the imprisoned victim.htm (37 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . pear-shaped bladders range in diameter from 2 millimeters (the size of a pinhead) to about 4 millimeters (the size of a BB). The flattened. A fringe of stiff hairs around the edge of the blade become interlocked (intermeshed) when the blade folds closed. At one end is an opening and a flap of tissue which forms the door. This little submersed aquatic plant has one of nature's most precise and delicate traps. thus trapping the insect like bars in a jail cell. Thousands of minute bladders are attached to feathery submersed branchlets by tiny stalks. Some authorities consider these finely divided branchlets to be modified leaves. except it opens inward. The door hangs down from the top of the entrance like a garage door. The door opening is surrounded by several bristly hairs that resemble the antennae of a tiny crustacean or insect. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. and the plant gets a supplemental source of nitrogen. The action of this remarkable mechanism involves a rapid loss of turgor pressure within the leaf cells on the upper side of the leaf.
the hapless victim is sucked in.htm (38 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Right: Magnified view of a single bladder trap containing a trapped copepod (red arrow).Botanical Record-Breakers Left: A microscopic. a minute crustacean related to a shrimp. since the bladder contains a partial vacuum. When a minute aquatic organism touches or hits one of these extremely sensitive hairs. but like a door that opens inwardly. Special trigger hairs near the lower free edge of the door cause it to open. The entire bladder is about 2 mm across. underwater view of the slender branchlets of a bladderwort plant (Utricularia vulgaris) bearing tiny. and antennae of the copepod are clearly visible. the door cannot be forced open from within. The tail. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. roughly the speed of a daylight camera shutter setting. it cannot be pushed open from the inside. Bladder extracts from some species of bladderworts indicate that enzymes secreted by the plant may be involved in the digestion process. This breaks the watertight seal and. pear-shaped bladders. multiplying the force of impact and bending or distorting the very pliable door. legs. T he airtight door of a bladderwort trap is hinged to allow easy entry as it swings inwardly. when the bladder trap is filled with water. Note the bristly hairs at the entrance to the bladder traps (red arrow). the hair acts as a lever. slightly larger than the head of an ordinary straight pin. The whole trapping process occurs within 15 to 20 milliseconds (about 1/60 of a second).
their degree of toxicity depends on how they are administered.htm (39 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .000 times more poisonous than rattlesnake venom. ricin is 6. A dose of ricin weighing only two millionths of an ounce (roughly equivalent to the weight of a single grain of table salt from a salt shaker) is enough to kill a 160 pound person. It has been estimated that gram for gram. and the laws of probability. then a Venus fly-trap or a related carnivorous plant might be your most dangerous (and last) botanical encounter. the most insidious plant toxins affecting people are lectins. If you happen to be a small insect. extremely poisonous proteins including ricin from the seeds of castor bean (Ricinus communis) and abrin from the seeds of rosary bean (Abrus precatorius). Of course. your method of contact with the plant. The Deadliest Plants In The World A student once asked: "What is the most deadly plant in the world?" This question has many answers depending on who you are. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.Botanical Record-Breakers See Wayne's Word Article About Carnivorous Plants 16. With the exception of certain pathogenic bacteria.000 times more poisonous than cyanide and 12.
the beautiful designs on the seeds exhibit infinite genetic variation. The seeds superficially resemble the bodies of ticks. gas gangrene (C. palmately-lobed leaf and cluster of spiny red fruits. a cell cannot maintain itself and soon dies. and file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Right: The many "faces" of castor bean seeds. Drugs. thus altering its molecular structure and function. some airports hand-inspected umbrellas packed in carry-on luggage. UN investigator teams (UNSCOM) discovered that Iraq was purifying ricin for possible use in biological warfare. botulism toxin (Clostridium botulinum). From: Facts on File News Services (13 Feb. Like the faces and fingerprints of people. a Bulgarian dissident. tropical. From: Facts on File News Services (23 Jan. There is no known antidote for ricin poisoning. 1998). along with anthrax (Bacillus anthracis). 1998).htm (40 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . One of the two protein subunits of ricin (RTA) is a deadly enzyme that removes purines (such as adenine) from ribosomal RNA. A ccording to the Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals. R icin from castor beans is a potent cytotoxic protein that is lethal to eukaryotic cells by inactivating the vital organelle sites of protein synthesis called ribosomes. Without protein synthesis at the ribosomes.Botanical Record-Breakers Left: Castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) showing large. On some plants the fruits are green. Even before the tragic terrorist plane crashes into the Trade Center Twin Towers in New York. Georgi Markov. F ollowing the Gulf War. perfringens). See Ribosomes In An Animal Cell I n 1978. Ricin causes a slow and painful death through blood poisoning and a breakdown of the circulatory system. was assassinated in London after being pricked by a ricin-tipped umbrella.500 ribosomes per minute and kill the cell. and aflatoxin (Aspergillus parasiticus). Just one single ricin molecule that enters the cytosol of a cell (the semifluid medium between the nucleus and plasma membrane) can inactivate over 1. particularly ticks engorged with blood. The small structure on the end of each seed is a caruncle.
However. A fascinating article on botulism appeared in Scientific American. So deadly is the toxin (even deadlier than strychnine. arsenic and snake venoms). See Article About The Castor Bean Shrub See Article About Seeds Used For Jewelry Plant Alkaloids That Can Make You Loco Photos Of Some Alkaloid Producing Plants Medical Alkaloids. Sometimes the seeds are boiled in order to facilitate the piercing of their hard seed coats. [In fact. 1968. Of course.] Pod and striking seeds of rosary bean (Abrus precatorius). the undisputed record for the deadliest natural toxin goes to the anaerobic bacterium of spoiled food (Clostridium botulinum). one thoroughly masticated seed of rosary bean (Abrus precatorius) can cause fatal poisoning. that an amount equal to the weight of ink in a printed period in a textbook is enough to kill 30 adult humans. even an innocuous coconut can be a lethal weapon if you stand under a heavily laden palm. The odds of this unfortunate event is considerably greater than winning the jackpot in the California State Lottery. one of the most beautiful and deadliest seeds on earth. They are often made into bracelets and earrings in Central America. and this heating would undoubtedly denature the toxic proteinaceous lectins inside. April. Glycosides & Terpenes file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. One ounce could theoretically kill 30 million tons of living matter and one pound could kill the entire human population. Brightly colored rosary beans are commonly strung for seed jewelry in Mexico and Central America.Botanical Record-Breakers Biologicals. the chance of being struck by lightning is actually greater than winning the California Lottery.htm (41 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .
the spiny stem segments are easily detached and are quickly transferred to your body appendages. T he stinging hair of the common North American nettle (Urtica dioica) is actually a sharp-pointed cell called a trichome. The spine shaft of some species. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. such as jumping cholla (Opuntia bigelovii) are covered with microscopic overlapping scales all lying in the same direction.htm (42 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . glistening hairs (called trichomes) readily penetrate your skin and release some very irritating chemicals into your epidermal layer. This nucleated cell is embedded in a pedestal-like base composed of smaller epidermal cells. A related species (genus Traga) injects a painful crystal of calcium oxalate into your skin. Mala mujer (Cnidoscolus angustidens) is a Mexican roadside plant covered with stinging hairs. stinging hairs of "mala mujer" and poison oak. beveled tip similar to a hypodermic needle. you pull against these scales which catch on your flesh. The stinging toxin from this species of nettle is a combination of chemicals. including histamine. Some tropical nettles can be absolutely excruciating and cause numbness that may persist for weeks. When you try to remove the spine. bulbous base is injected into the skin tissue. I would say that the most painful botanical experiences include close encounters with jumping cholla cactus. acetylcholine and 5-hydroxytryptamine. Like nettles. To make matters worse. The trichomes of true nettles in the genera Urtica and Urera inject your skin with several stinging chemicals. The hollow trichome readily penetrates the skin and toxin from the enlarged. acetylcholine and 5-hydroxytryptamine. The slender shaft of the trichome is composed of silica.Botanical Record-Breakers 17. the sharp. The fleshy stem segments of many species of cactus are heavily armed with sharp spines. The Most Painful Botanical Encounters A nother category asked by an inquisitive student is "what is the most painful botanical encounter?" In my experience as a botanist. including histamine. and the rounded apex breaks off with the slightest touch creating a sharp.
shiny pieces of coral. Amber is the fossilized resin of ancient forests that thrived millions of years ago. Often the amber contains insects and spiders 30 to 50 million years old (or older). The chemical mechanism responsible for the extreme pain from contact with these tree nettles is apparently different from North American nettles. Vegetable ivory is a hemicellulose polymer that comprises the endosperm of some palm seeds. With a hardness and luster of true ivory. the resins are literally metamorphosed into a hard. formed by the carbonization of ancient conifer file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. itching rash develops. or precious and semiprecious stones. During the fossilization process. New Guinea. During the destruction of urushiol. Fluid oozes from blood vessels and lymphatics (edema) and cell death and necrosis (breakdown) of skin tissue occurs. it can be polished and used in jewely. plastic-like polymer. In general. It only takes a molecular trace of the potent poison oak allergen "urushiol" (2 micrograms or less than one millionth of an ounce) on the skin to initiate an allergic response. the Australian bush and tree nettles of the genus Dendrocnide appear to be considerably more potent than the herbaceous North American nettles (Urtica and Urera).Botanical Record-Breakers T here are reports of the incapacitation and death of horses from the Australian bush nettle Dendrocnide moroides. polished and set in gold or silver. Severe cases may require hospitalization. perfectly preserved in nature's transparent tomb. durable. The urushiol readily penetrates the skin where it is ultimately destroyed by killer T-cells through a very complicated cell-mediated immune response. especially if droplets of urushiol have been inhaled in the smoke from burning poison oak. The Most Valuable Botanical Jewels M ost people think of natural jewelry as pearls. Jet is a black mineral similar to hardened coal. The Ultimate & Most Painful Hitchhikers Stinging Trichomes Of Cnidoscolus angustidens Poison Oak: More Than Just Scratching The Surface 18. neighboring skin tissue is also destroyed and a blistering. But there are botanical gems that rival some of these minerals in value and beauty. allergic reaction with the body's immune system.htm (43 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . There are unconfirmed reports of human fatalities from a nettle called "devil-leaf" (Laportea or Dendrocnide) in Papua. Contact with the sap of poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and the closely related poison ivy and poison sumac causes a miserable.
" certainly the rarest is the legendary "coconut pearl" that occasionally forms inside a coconut (Cocos nucifera). it is a shiny calcareous sphere. the Dutch zoologist A. or whether they are calcareous concretions from giant clams. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The famous "Maharajah Coconut Pearl" was on display at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables. See Article About Vegetable Ivory From Palms See A Piece Of Jet and Anthracite Coal Compared See Article About Seeds & Fruits Used For Jewelry See Article About Amber: Nature's Transparent Tomb P robably the most remarkable of all botanical jewels is allegedly produced by the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). and concluded that they were the pearls of giant clams of the genus Tridacna. the legendary "coconut pearl. David Fairchild in 1940. Like the pearls of oysters and giant clams." There is considerable disagreement among botanists as to whether coconut pearls actually exist. Florida during the 1990s. It takes a high polish and makes beautiful pendants and necklaces.Botanical Record-Breakers forests buried beneath the sea. only the alleged pearl was on display. with no record or photos of the original coconut from where it came. or a myth that has been perpetuated for centuries. In 1939. Reyne studied the structure of 70 so-called coconut pearls in public and private collections. It was discovered on Celebes Island in the Java Sea and presented to Dr. But of all these "botanical jewels.htm (44 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Unfortunately. In fact. several botany textbooks flatly state that coconut pearls are a hoax because proof of their existence is totally unfounded.
" so called because the inner nut or endocarp does not have the three characteristic "eyes" (germination pores) of a typical coconut. See The Ocean Dispersal Of Wild Niu Kafa Coconuts A ccording to a display at the Fairchild Tropical Garden. 1989). Portuguese and Spanish traders introduced the coconut into West Africa after 1500. supposedly because of the eye pattern on the endocarp and the brown.Botanical Record-Breakers The famous "Maharajah coconut pearl" sitting in the shell of a coconut. up to six inches in diameter. coconut pearls come from "blind coconuts. angular fruit. fibrous hair (husk). According to R. They called it "coco" from the Portuguese or Spanish slang word for monkey face. This alleged botanical jewel was on display at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in the city of Coral Gables. Without a germination pore the embryonic growth within the hard-shelled nut is supposedly retarded. The niu kafa type have an elongate. Sokolov (Natural History Oct. Coconuts were later introduced into the Americas by these early traders.htm (45 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Although there are many varieties of coconuts. Florida. they all belong to either of two major types known as niu kafa and niu vai. with a small egg-shaped nut surrounded by an file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The center of origin for ocean-dispersed coconuts appears to be the Indo-Malaysian region. See An Alleged Coconut Pearl That Is For Sale See The Wayne's Word Article About Seed Jewelry T he origin of the generic name for coconut Coconut on a beach in Belize. and this abnormal situation may in some unknown way be related to the formation of a stone. "Cocos" may be traced to the three germination pores on the endocarp layer surrounding the seed.
with a larger spherical nut inside a thin husk. According to Hugh C. Based upon tertiary fossil evidence in the South Pacific (long before the voyages of ancient mariners) and convincing dispersal studies by Harries and his associates. disseminated by floating. The niu vai type was derived by domestic selection for increased endosperm ("meat" and "milk") and is widely dispersed and cultivated by humans. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.Botanical Record-Breakers unusually thick husk. the niu kafa type represents the ancestral. 1978). Niu vai coconuts have a larger more spherical fruit. 44. coconut palms probably originated on tropical islands of the Indo-Malaysian region.htm (46 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Harries (Botanical Review Vol. up to ten inches in diameter. naturally-evolved. wild-type coconut.
the developing palm becomes self sufficient.] The three pores represent three carpels. The base of the embryo (cotyledon) swells into an absorbing organ that fills the entire cavity of the seed as it digests the endosperm. The endocarp has three germination pores. one functional pore and two plugged pores. as its leaves produce sugars through photosynthesis and its roots absorb minerals from the soil. This mass of tissue is called the "coconut apple" and is essentially the functional cotyledon of the seed. This stage of the endosperm development is called "spoon meat. The saturated fat called "coconut oil" is derived from the meaty endosperm. Before the liquid endosperm forms a solid "meat" it is jellylike and may be eaten with a spoon. Eventualy.htm (47 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] ." The "coconut milk" used in many Asian recipes is made by soaking grated coconut meat in water and squeezing out the oil-rich liquid." The coconut "water" is multinucleate liquid endosperm inside green coconuts that has not developed into solid tissue composed of cells.Botanical Record-Breakers Sprouting fruit of a coconut Cocos nucifera. Just inside the functional germination pore is a minute embryo embedded in the endosperm tissue. The coconut "apple" is rich in sugars and is a sweet delicacy in tropical countries. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. typical of the palm family (Arecaceae).] It dissolves and absorbs the nutrient-rich endosperm tissue to supply the developing shoot with sugars and minerals. a spongy mass develps from the base of the embryo and fills the seed cavity. [The white color has been altered in order to clearly differentiate it from the endosperm. The hard inner layer (endocarp) contains the actual seed composed of a minute embryo and food storage tissue (endosperm). [In "blind coconuts" all three pores are plugged. The endosperm is the coconut "meat" which is dried and sold as "copra. During germination. "Coir" fibers are derived from the fibrous mesocarp.
The thick.htm (48 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . It was published in 1943 by Charles Scribner's Sons. His photo of the pearl appears on page 128A with the folowing caption: "This rare jewel is pictured about as it would be found in the white meat of a coconut near the end where the sprout comes out through the pore.Botanical Record-Breakers Close-up view through the inside of a coconut seed showing a small. woody layer that makes up the inner part of the fruit wall." file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The wall of the endocarp (C) is a hard. The base of the embryo (pointing into the coconut) swells into an absorbing organ (cotyledon) that fills the entire cavity of the seed as it digests the endosperm. New York. See The Ocean Dispersal Of Wild Niu Kafa Coconuts D avid Fairchild's original discovery of his alleged coconut pearl is described in his book Garden Islands of the Great East (Collecting Seeds From the Philippines and Netherlands India in the Junk "Chêng Ho"). The alleged coconut "pearl" apparently develops where the embryo is located. Apparently Fairchild did not have that actual "blind coconut" from which the pearl was derived. fibrous husk (mesocarp) that surrounds the endocarp has been removed. cylindrical embryo (A) embedded in the fleshy meat or endosperm (B).
because it may be impossible to prove its authenticity. if you cracked open and thoroughly examined one coconut every 15 minutes during a normal eight hour work day. The Most Complex Plant-Insect Relationship file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. 1982). Formerly. Krikorian (Principes Vol." In fact.htm (49 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . To put it another way. the alleged "pearls" appear to be calcareous. Rumphius reported that coconut stones readily lose their luster when boiled in a weak acid solution of vinegar or lemon juice. they do not appear to be the same chemical composition as vegetable ivory or the siliceous stones that form inside bamboo stems. Rumphius described and illustrated exquisite coconut pearls owned by Malaysian dynasties. it would take roughly 80 years to go through a million coconuts. Disclaimer: Authenticity Of Coconut Pearls If You Are Considering The Purchase Of One Of These Plant "Gems. The alleged coconut pearl illustrated at the following link was priced at $60. often mounted in jeweled settings of gold and silver.000 U. all "blind" coconuts belonged to the Radja and were not the property of those who found them. From the limited available information so far. its exact chemical composition has remained an enigma because researchers are reluctant to damage one during an assay. who has studied the writings of the distinguished 17th century naturalist Georg Eberhard Rumphius. dollars in December of 2003. Apparently poreless (blind) coconuts bring high prices in the Orient and are only found in the collections of the wealthy Radjas and merchants." Please Click On This Link 20.S. According to biochemist Abraham D. See The Remarkable Grass Known As Bamboo I t is difficult to place a monetary value on a coconut pearl. In his classic six-volume work entitled Herbarium Amboinense (1741-1750). suggesting that they may be slowly dissolving. See An Alleged Coconut Pearl That Is For Sale 19. 26.Botanical Record-Breakers T he alleged coconut pearl is certainly one of the most interesting of all "botanical gemstones. The odds of finding one in a coconut is certainly less than one in a million.
and they all have their own pollinator wasp species that only enters their syconia through a small opening to pollinate the female flowers inside. what we typically associate with a fig "fruit" is actually an inside-out flower cluster (inflorescence) called a syconium. "in-house" population of symbiotic wasps. S yconia of California wasp-pollinated "Calimyrna figs" contain only female flowers and must be pollinated in order to ripen. pollen-bearing male flowers and seed-bearing female flowers. Following pollination and fertilization the ovaries develop into minute one-seeded drupelets with a hard inner layer (endocarp) surrounding the seed.htm (50 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . but in all other fig species (referred to as dioecious or gynodioecious). Since wasp eggs are not laid in the long-style flowers. Male and female fig wasps are borne inside hollow. flower-bearing structures called syconia. The syconium is lined on the inside with hundreds of tiny.Botanical Record-Breakers T he most complex and truly extraordinary method of insect pollination occurs in fig trees of genus Ficus. In about half of the fig species (referred to as monoecious). male flowers and the long and short-style female flowers occur in the same bisexual syconium. the ovary of this type of flower contains a seed rather than a wasp (assuming it is pollinated). There are approximately 1.000 species of figs. Without their special symbiotic wasps the female flowers inside would not get pollinated and no seeds would be produced (a catastrophe for the fig tree). mostly distributed throughout tropical regions of the world. Each tiny flower consists of a five-parted calyx and an ovary with a long style. and the wasps develop from eggs laid inside the ovaries of the short-style female flowers (one egg per flower). The seed-bearing drupelets produce the superior nutty flavor and crunch. Without pollination Calimyrna syconia fail to ripen and drop from the branches. In a strict botanical sense. long-style female flowers only occur in unisexual syconia on female trees. the seed-producing. This remarkable floral dimorphism is how the fig tree produces seeds while still maintaining its vital. At one end is a small opening called an ostiole. fleshy. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.
Since a hungry wasp larva occupies each ovary. Caprifig trees are monoecious with separate male (staminate) flowers and short-style female (pistillate) flowers within the syconia. The caprifig syconia also contain wasp larvae inside the ovaries of female flowers because the egg-laying wasp is able to oviposit through the short styles into the ovaries of these flowers. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. fig seeds generally do not develop.htm (51 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Edible Calimyrna fig syconia contain only long-style female flowers. Her ovipositor is not long enough to penetrate the ovaries of these flowers so she does not deposit an egg. the "male" caprifig and the female tree (edible fig).Botanical Record-Breakers Syconia Of The Calimyrna Fig (Ficus carica): 1. 2. Fig seeds develop inside the ovaries of long-style flowers since there is no larva to eat them. Ficus carica has 2 sexual forms. Seeds develop within the ovaries of these flowers since the styles are too long for the female wasp to oviposit through. It is functionally male because it produces pollen.
htm (52 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . sweet-smelling structure that file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. ravaging insects and browsing mammals eat the leaves and branches. Symbiotic ants have taken over this vital defense role. The World's Largest Stinking Blossoms A typical flower may be stereotyped as a colorful. The Acacia Tree and Its Symbiotic Ant Acacia: An Enormous Genus Of Trees Yucca & Its Symbiotic Pollinator Moth The Story Of Mexican Jumping Beans 21. protecting the acacia from hungry herbivores and pruning away competing plants. The ants live inside inflated thorns at the base of leaves. Without bitter alkaloids. slowing the growth of the acacias and allowing fast-growing. Some species of Central American and African swollen-thorn acacias lack the chemical defenses of most other acacias to deal with their predators and competition.Botanical Record-Breakers Links About Figs & Fig Wasps Fig Trees Of The Holy Land Strangler Figs and Banyan Trees Evolution Of Dioecious Fig Species Ficus dammaropsis In New Guinea Amazing Fig/Fig Wasp Relationship Calimyrna Fig & Its Pollinator Wasp Summary Of Common Fig Life Cycle Cauliflory In Tropical Species Of Figs Pollination Patterns In Dioecious Figs Do Fig Wasps Induce Gall Formation? Sex Determination In The Common Fig Sexuality and Political Correctness In Figs Petrified Fig Syconium From The Cretaceous Grass Jelly From Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) Nonpollinator Fig Wasps With Long Ovipositors A nother truly remarkable relationship between a tree and an insect is the acacia and acacia ant. competing vegetation to shade them out.
and include some of the largest and most bizarre flowers on earth. sugary nectar secretion from the flower. and the reward for their pollination service is a carbohydrate-rich. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (53 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . carrion flowers also entice flesh and fecal-loving insects to visit their stinking blossoms.Botanical Record-Breakers attracts insects. spore-laden. some of the most remarkable are known as "carrion flowers. Unlike the fragrant blossoms that attract bees. but their petals are typically flesh-colored. While the above scenario fits the majority of flowering plants. Not only do these flowers smell like a dead animal. stinking fungi that also attract blow flies. butterflies and moths. carrion flowers simulate the odor of a rotting carcass and attract carrion beetles and a variety of flies including blowflies. often with a dense covering of hair." showy blossoms with the stench of rotting flesh. flesh flies and midges. Some plants rely on wind or water for pollination. A variety of insects find the showy petals and fragrance irresistible. and produce inconspicuous flowers with copious airborne or water-dispersed pollen. there are many notable exceptions. Like the putrid. They belong to a variety of different and unrelated plant families. But of all the exceptions to the typical flower stereotype.
a member of the arum family Araceae.Botanical Record-Breakers Left: The largest and most bizarre of all stinking flowers is the Malaysian corpse flower or titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum). it is technically not the world's largest flower. See Article About Stinking Flowers See The Wayne's Word Fungus Article file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. It belongs to the Rafflesiaceae. a strange family of endoparasitic plants that live inside their host shrub or vine. Although this blossom may reach eight feet (24 m) in height. small . the world's largest flower. The withered compound leaf is supported by ties to the shadecloth ceiling framework. The erect spadix is actually an inflorescence composed of many. This remarkable Malaysian/Indonesian endoparasite lives completely within its host vine. Right: Another Amorphophallus titanum near the end of its gigantic leaf stage.9 m) across and weighing an astonishing 25 pounds (11 kg). and occasionally breaks through the bark as a huge bud that expands into an enormous blossom 3 feet (0. The infamous stinking corpse lily (Rafflesia arnoldii). That record goes to yet another stinking flower Rafflesia arnoldii. unisexual flowers crowded together.htm (54 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .
the list of categories is only limited by one's imagination. and help to keep students in the last row from falling asleep. Plant & Animal Adaptation Hyperlinks Ecological Adaptations: Poison Dart Frogs Population Growth Life On Salt Lakes Pollination By Bats Life On Sand Dunes Principles Of Ecology Pollination By The Wind Hummingbird Pollination Snow Algae: Life On Ice Hitchhikers: Cockleburs Hitchhikers: Devil's Claw Hitchhikers: Most Efficient Strangler Figs And Banyans Dispersal By Ocean Currants Dispersal Of The Sandbox Tree Bat Pollination Of Sausage Tree C-4 Photosynthesis In Purslanes Rock Lichens And Desert Varnish Vegetative Structures--Mangroves CAM Photosynthesis In Succulents Fire Ecology: Ashes To Wildflowers Insect & Plant Relationships Insect-Eating Plants The Amazing Antlions The Marine Seagrasses The Yucca And Its Moth The Acacia And Its Ants Diversity In The Acacias Mexican Jumping Beans California Jumping Galls Mycotrophic Wildflowers The Datura And Its Moth Galls: Growths On Plants Eucalyptus & Lerp Insect Sexual Suicide In Animals The Truth About Cauliflory Fig Wasp Gall Controversy Calimyrna Fig And Its Wasp Pollination In Dioecious Figs Cyanobacteria & Water Ferns The Fig/Fig Wasp Relationship Sex Determination In Edible Fig Stinking Flowers Pollinated By Flies file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Most of these records will probably remain obscure trivia.Botanical Record-Breakers T here are literally hundreds of other botanical record-breakers. they do make fascinating highlights for biology and botany lectures. hidden away in the bewildering maze of botanical literature. 22.htm (55 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Although they may never make the book buyer's best seller list.
Botanical Record-Breakers Return To WAYNE'S WORD Home Page Return To NOTEWORTHY PLANTS Page Go To Biology GEE WHIZ TRIVIA Page Go To The LEMNACEAE ON-LINE Page file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (56 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.