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Botanical Record-Breakers

Wayne's Word


Noteworthy Plants



Biology 101



Botanical Record-Breakers
Amazing Trivia About Plants
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Plant & Animal Cells

Diversity of Flowering Plants

Major Botanical Divisions

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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
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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.

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Botanical Record-Breakers


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

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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.

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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
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Plate Tectonics & Continental Drift Fossils Of Ancient Plants In The Wester U. The largest tree. The greatest authenticated age of a giant sequoia. 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).Botanical Record-Breakers Million-Year-Old Bacterium From A Primary Salt Crystal. All North American plantings of this splendid tree are living descendants of trees only known from the orient. 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. They once formed great forests in this region 150. cultivated by people in temple gardens for countless generations. The World's Most Massive Living Thing P rior to the discovery of ancient bristlecone pines and creosote bush rings.S. named General Sherman.htm (6 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .000 board feet of file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. 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. 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.200 years. 2. was nearly 3. It has been estimated to contain over 600.000 centuries ago. 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. the world's record for longevity went to the magnificent giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) of the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Although it may fall short of the world's oldest. 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." Nature 407: 897-900. the giant sequoia has the undisputed record for the world's most massive living thing.

10 diesel-electric train locomotives. In fact. With a diameter of 50 feet (15 m).htm (7 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . or 25 average-sized military battle tanks. the trunk of this spectacular tree is literally the size of a house. By way of comparison. this is roughly equivalent to 15 adult blue whales. Mexico.Botanical Record-Breakers timber. larger than the General Sherman giant sequoia. enough to build 120 average-sized houses.500 to 2.000 years old. 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. A nother conifer species called the Montezuma bald cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) occasionally grows into a huge tree. but botanists now consider it to be a youngster of only 1. S ome flowering trees such as the African baobab (Adansonia digitata featured in file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. This gigantic tree was once thought to be 10. it is one of the most massive of all living things with a trunk circumference of 140 feet (43 m). The trunk of General Sherman alone weighs nearly 1400 tons.000 years. One enormous specimen of this tree grows in the churchyard of Santa Maria de Tule near Oaxaca. Sequoiadendron giganteum in King's Canyon National Park. Called "El Gigante" by the locals.

Alexander the Great reportedly camped with an army of 7. Other trees of the tropical rain forest. [Photo by Paul Armstrong] file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.000 soldiers under such a fig tree.Botanical Record-Breakers the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy--Part II").htm (8 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . 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. A South African baobab tree (Adansonia digitata). such as the kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) of Central and South America.000 gallons of water weighing 100 tons. One large baobab trunk can store 25. with 1000 pillar-like prop roots supporting massive limbs that cover four acres. but do not grow as tall. one of the most massive flowering plants. also develop huge buttressed trunks.000 gallons of water weighing 100 tons. The enormous trunk may exceed 100 feet (30 m) in circumference and store 25. The Indian banyan also has the record for the world's largest (spreading) tree crown.

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"). above-ground mushrooms covering more than a thousand acres of forest soil. Right: A massive strangler fig (Ficus cotinifolia) in Yucatan with numerous vinelike. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The decayed trunk of the host tree is still visible inside the strangler's web of fused aerial roots.htm (9 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . French Polynesia. aerial roots growing from the limbs. Some mycorrhizal associations can be enormous. Another Armillaria in Washington was recently found to consist of a subterranean mycelial network with erect. Some scientists speculate that it was spawned by a single spore thousands of years ago. The trunks in foreground are large aerial prop roots from the enormous tree in the distance.Botanical Record-Breakers Left: A large Indian banyan (Ficus bengalensis) at the Gauguin Botanical Garden in Tahiti. 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. Some of the roots have fused (anastomosed) into massive pillars.

6. the mycelium of some Armillaria species may extend through the soil for hundreds of acres. as in the 1400 ton General Sherman? See: Soil Fungi--World's Largest Organisms file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (10 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .000 ton stand of genetically identical quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. As a mycorrhizal forest fungus. See The Wayne's Word Fungus Article T hese fungal monstrosities are rivaled in total size and mass by a 106 acre.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. Any discussion of massive clonal colonies should also include the conjoined polyps of coral reefs.000 years or more. The age of this giant clone has been estimated at 10. the question still remains: Do these clonal colonies qualify as a single individual. and has literally climbed over mountains and across meadows. However. The aspen clone is connected (in part) by a common root system.

1993. References: 1. where new adventitious stems arise from a gigantic spreading root system.C. Suckering is a common method of asexual reproduction in the willow family (Salicaceae). Grant.htm (11 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . and M. 2. it is quite likely that some of the root systems have broken away.Botanical Record-Breakers Aspen Clone: World's Heaviest Living Organism? An aspen clone in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah is composed of 47.B. this monstrous clone is the same sex." Discover: 83-88. Mitton. Since the aspen is a dioecious species (with separate male and female individuals in the population). M. so that some of the trees are no longer directly connected to the clone. in this case all males.C. but they all arose from a genetically identical root system. 1996. with a total weight of 6 million kilograms (6. but they still share a common genome. J. "Genetic Variation and the Natural History of Quaking Aspen. The above-ground stems appear to be separate trees. Grant. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. willows (Salix) and aspen. which includes cottonwoods (Populus).000 stems of genetically identical aspen trees (Populus tremuloides). "The Trembling Giant." BioScience 461: 25-31. Like the creosote bush clones in the White Mountains of California. The clone has developed asexually by suckering.500 tons).

1977). At least a dozen species of flowering trees called "ironwoods" hold the title of world's heaviest wood. but the tallest tree known to be standing at present is 322 feet (98 m). This is not surprising since flowering plants have colonized practically every conceivable habitat on earth. The pure cell wall material has a specific file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. making it the tallest (or perhaps longest) dead tree. According to the monograph on Eucalyptus by Stan Kelly (Volume 1 of Eucalypts. regnans 18 feet (5. regnans exceeding 400 feet (122 m) have never been substantiated by a qualified surveyor. regnans well over 300 feet (91 m) tall have been measured. the tallest living redwood on record stands 367 feet (112 m). In 1872. 5. 4. 62 feet (19 m) taller than the Statue of Liberty. For thousands of years these enormous clonal populations have been spreading across meadows and mountain slopes. a fallen E. The California redwoods are rivaled in size by the amazing flowering Australian tree (Eucalyptus regnans).Botanical Record-Breakers Aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) commonly reproduce asexually by suckering (adventitious stems). In some regions of western North America.htm (12 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Wood is composed of dead cells of a tree trunk. heavily lignified cells with little or no air spaces in the cell cavities (lumens). The record for the tallest tree of all time has been debated by botanists for centuries. Some amazing claims for towering Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and E. The World's Tallest Tree T he world's record for the tallest tree goes to another cone-bearing tree native to California. The weight of wood is essentially due to the cellulose and lignin in the cell walls of billions of cells. particularly the inner xylem tissue when the bark is removed. trees of E. Ironwoods all have wood with very dense.5 m) in diameter and 435 feet (132 m) tall was reported by William Ferguson. and many of the trees actually share a common root system. entire forest populations (stands) may be genetically identical. 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. the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). In fact.

5 (i. This is rather doubtful since the specific gravity of pure cell wall material is 1.] By way of contrast. In fact." owing to the medicinal properties of the sweet-smelling resin. The name lignum vitae means "wood of life. The World's Hardest & Heaviest Woods Table Of The Hardest & Heaviest Ironwoods 6. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The World's Smallest Flowering Plant T here are approximately 230. ironwoods with specific gravities greater than 1. minute rootless plants that float at the surface of quiet streams and ponds.0.49. 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. with a specific gravity of 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. Under certain conditions it actually wears better than iron.11. and samples of Olea laurifolia I have tested only weighed in at about 1.5. 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. without any cellular structure). But the undisputed world's smallest flowering plants belong to the genus Wolffia. Since pure water has a specific gravity of 1.0 will sink in water.Botanical Record-Breakers gravity of about 1.4.htm (13 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . 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.000 species of described flowering plants in the world. cork bark from the European cork oak (Quercus suber) has a specific gravity of 0.e. the highly-prized wood was used for end grain thrust blocks which lined the propeller shafts of steamships.19.24.37. Certainly one of the world's heaviest and hardest ironwoods is the Caribbean tree called lignum vitae (Guaiacum officinale). and the heaviest and hardest ironwoods approach 1.

Botanical Record-Breakers E ach plant is shaped like a microscopic green football with a flat top. or the equally minute Australian species W. It is difficult to say which is the smaller of the two. An average individual plant is 0. and 5. Successive Orders Of Magnitude: Galaxy To A Proton W olffia plants also produce the world's smallest flower. or 1040 power larger than the water molecule. 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. 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. or the approximate weight of 2-3 grains of table salt. angusta. globosa.6 mm long (1/42 of an inch) and 0. I f a water molecule is represented by 100.3 mm wide (1/85th of an inch). globosa may be slightly smaller. It weighs about 150 micrograms (1/190. then a wolffia plant is about 1020 power larger than the water molecule. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.000 of an ounce). The earth is about 1020 power larger than a wolffia plant. An average individual plant of the Asian species W. is small enough to pass through the eye of an ordinary sewing needle. One plant is 165. but perhaps W.000 times shorter than the tallest Australian eucalyptus (Eucalyptus regnans) and seven trillion times lighter than the most massive giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum).htm (14 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .

The width of one plant body is the same as a single strand of sewing thread. It is rivaled in size only by the Asian species W. The distinctive dorsal margin is clearly visible on one of the plants. globosa.htm (15 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . making this one of the smallest species of wolffia. 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.

htm (16 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . 1999) discusses a remarkable new species of sulfur bacteria from the greenish ooze of ocean sediment off the coast of Namibia in southwestern Africa. 1999 issue of Science). a giant bacterial cell or a microscopic flowering plant. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. or sulfur pearl of Namibia. Germany (see the April 16. 155 (April 17. Travis in Science News Vol. The spherical bacteria have diameters ranging from 0.000 to 40. This is certainly the case with Wolffia globosa. A single sperm cell from Zamia roezlii. The new species is named Thiomargarita namibiensis. 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). it actually has minute guard cells and stomata on its upper (dorsal) surface. roughly the size of a printed period or the size of an average grain of table salt (NaCl). In fact.000 cilia at one end. When light shines on the bacterial cells.1 to 0. Sulfur bacteria oxidize sulfur compounds to produce their energy-rich ATP molecules. the bacteria are visible to the naked eye. definitely within the size range of some species of Wolffia.75 mm. Because of their size and light-reflecting properties. But who would ever believe that a multicellular flowering plant could be as small as one prokaryotic bacterial cell. It consists of several spiral bands of 20. The bacteria were discovered in sediment samples by Heide Schulz of the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen. The pulsating beat of these cilia may help to propel the sperm through the pollen tube on its journey to fertilize the egg.Botanical Record-Breakers Wolffia The Size Of A Bacterial Cell Wolffia The Size Of A Cycad Sperm A recent article by J. And although it is the ultimate in reduction of a flowering plant. it is almost as large as one entire wolffia plant. they are truly wonders of the world. is about 0. an interesting cycad endemic to rain forests of Colombia.4 mm in length and is visible to the unaided eye. Any way you look at these amazing records. they glisten white from light reflecting off sulfur inside them (see the image above).

This bizarre plant lives inside climbing vines of the tropical rain forest. 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. In the southeastern United States there are records of wolffia plants being carried by a tornado. In fact. and they have been reported in the water of melted hailstones. concave stigma) and one stamen. The length of one entire plant is less than one millimeter (1/25th of an inch). By way of comparison. tucked neatly under the duck's bodies during flight. Tiny wolffia plants are commonly dispersed on the feet of water fowl. it is sometimes called the "stinking corpse lily.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." Wolffia borealis: Dorsal view of budding flowering plant next to the tip of a sewing needle.htm (17 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . the world's largest flower is produced by a parasitic plant (Rafflesia arnoldiii) native to the Malay Archipelago. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The floral cavity contains a single pistil (with a circular.9 m) in diameter and weighing up to 20 pounds. Like a gigantic erupting pimple.

The individual flower stalk may be over 30 feet (9 m) tall. The flowers are protogynous. the talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera) of India has the largest inflorescence of any plant. Florida. with the stigma becoming receptive before the anther matures and sheds pollen. This enormous flower stalk is rivaled by some species of Agave.Botanical Record-Breakers Lateral view of flowering Wolffia borealis showing the dorsal floral cavity containing one anther-bearing stamen and one pistil (gynoecium). The Bolivian bromeliad. The entire flowering plant is only one millimeter (1/25th of an inch) in length. Puya raimondii produces one of the largest flower clusters or inflorescences.000 white blossoms. Director of Plant Collections at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables. It weighs approximately 200 micrograms (roughly 1/150. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Hubbuch.000 of an ounce). a slender (short) style and a circular. A daughter plant protrudes from a funnel-like budding pouch at the basal end.htm (18 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . concave stigma. bearing more than 8. The pistil has a seed-bearing ovary. According to Charles E. The huge inflorescence may be 10 meters (over 30 feet) tall with millions of flowers.

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. although this record is not as yet recognized in the Guinness Book. The World's Smallest & Largest Fruit W olffia also produces the world's smallest fruit. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (19 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . It is roughly five billion times lighter than a 900 pound squash.000 of an ounce). Each one-seeded fruit is about the size of a cuboidal grain of ordinary table salt (0.3 mm long) and weighs about 70 micrograms (1/400.

In fact. One year later at the "gourd olympics" in Port Elgin. a 1993 record-breaking pumpkin weighed in at 836 pounds and a giant squash tipped the scales at just over 700 pounds. and was indeed the world's largest fruit (at least according to contests sponsored by the World Pumpkin Confederation). although the largest pumpkins probably come from C. NOTE: When this article was first uploaded and placed on-line in the spring of 1996. Ontario. maxima.000 pound barrier where no pumpkin or squash had ever gone before.htm (20 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . a pumpkin was reported from Manchester. it must be cream-yellow to orange. New York. a pumpkin weighed in at 1140 pounds. Many pumpkins are varieties of Cucurbita pepo. Because of their small size (usually only 1-2 mm or less). In October 2002. New Hampshire with an astonishing weight of 1337 pounds. For their remarkable 1. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. the official newsletter of the World Pumpkin Confederation. the pumpkin once again regained its title of the world's largest fruit. thin-walled fruit is technically called a utricle. 1996 at the official World Pumpkin Confederation weigh-in at Clarence. bladderlike. fruits of the duckweed family are seldom seen. The small. A ccording to Cucurbits.Botanical Record-Breakers Fruits of the duckweed family (Lemnaceae). on that fateful day of October 5. globosa. There have been other unofficial records for pumpkins exceeding 900 pounds. but it also broke the 1. Not only did a record-breaking pumpkin beat its 900 pound squash rival of 1994. Ohio in October 2000. 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. Two of the smallest are the Australian W. In another pumpkin contest held at Canfield. But finally. it appeared that the squash had clearly beaten its long-time rival. angusta (shown in photo) and the Asian W. the pumpkin. To enter your prize pumpkin in the official World Pumpkin Confederation Annual Weigh-Off. they are truly grains of table salt measuring only 0.000 dollars.061 pound mammoth pumpkin. if it is green to gray or mottled in color it must be entered as a squash. the reign of the pumpkin was broken by a 900 pound squash. the one-seeded fruits of Wolffia species are the undisputed smallest fruits on earth.3 mm on a side. the lucky growers received a grand prize of 50. however.

a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). this tree is grown throughout the tropics for its pulpy.9 m) and weigh up to 75 pounds (34 kg). 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.htm (21 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . thus making them the largest tree-bearing fruits on earth. jackfruits may reach nearly three feet (0. edible fruit. Native to the Indo-Malaysian region. Of course. 1973). According to Charles Heiser (Seed to Civilization. Jackfruit: Largest Tree-Bearing Fruit Durian: A Large. It belongs to the same genus as the famous breadfruit (A. the undisputed record for the world's largest fruit is a 1337 pound pumpkin.Botanical Record-Breakers The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) produces massive seed-bearing fruits on its branches. altilis).

such as the sugar pine (P. The largest cones are three feet (0.5 m) long. The heavy cones of Coulter pine with talon-like. Other pines. Of all the more than 100 species of pines in the world. 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. The woody. gigas).Botanical Record-Breakers Left: The world's largest been pods come from woody vines or lianas of the genus (Entada).9 m) long and weigh up to 95 pounds (45 kg). They may be up to 14 inches (36 cm) long and weigh more than 10 pounds (4.htm (22 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The largest species is called the sea heart (E. lambertiana) have longer cones. The undisputed world's largest seed cones are produced by tropical cycads. California's coulter pine (Pinus coulteri) has one of the largest pine cones on earth. this is one of the most massive cones. curved scales are definitely a hazard to anyone standing or sleeping under a cone-laden limb.5 kg). and the pods may be 5 feet (1. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Right: Although technically not a fruit. They are native to the rain forests of the Old and New World tropics. but they have flimsy cone scales and do not weigh as much.

" The fresh green pods (and dried black seed capsules) were important items in the cultures of many Indian tribes of the southwestern United States. Multiclawed forms have also also selected by native Americans because the horns split into 3-4 claws. The pulsating beat of these cilia may help to propel the sperm through the pollen tube on its journey to fertilize the egg. Plants and Planet (1974). 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. 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. parviflora var.000 to 40. but some of the largest are from the North American devil's claw (Proboscidea). it is almost as large as one entire wolffia plant! It consists of several spiral bands of 20. white-seeded cultivar P. Plate Tectonics & Continental Drift 8. A single sperm cell from Zamia roezlii. parviflora ssp. They provide durability and file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. In fact. The devil's claw fruit is technically a drupaceous capsule with a woody inner part surrounded by a fleshy layer.000 cilia at one end. and are still used to this day for food and in basketry. Sea Heart: World's Longest Bean Pod Cycads From The Time Of Jurassic Park Cycads. Each capsule contains about 40 black seeds which are gradually released when the claws split apart.4 mm in length and is visible to the unaided eye. The striking seed pods of the domesticated. There are literally hundreds of plant species with hitchhiking seed pods.Botanical Record-Breakers Cycads also have the record for the world's largest sperm. In his fascinating book. 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 long claws are soaked in water and split into leathery strands. hohokamiana have claws up to 15 inches (38 cm) long. In some areas of the southwestern United States they are a nuisance to sheep ranchers because they get entangled in the fleece.htm (23 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . is about 0. an interesting cycad endemic to rain forests of Colombia. Anthony Huxley (son of Julian Huxley) eloquently describes the hitchhiking pods as "hookers.

htm (24 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . 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. Assuming devil's claw plants existed over 600. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. such as antelope. 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.000 years ago. or an occurrence that is out of its proper time in history. deer and elk once overlapped the range of devil's claws thousands of years ago. however. bison. with the exception of introduced livestock and people (and possibly desert bighorn sheep). the Americas were rich in large mammals (such as giant ground sloths) which are now extinct. During the past one million years of the Pleistocene Epoch. hornlike fruit before is has split open. The devil's claw is also known as "unicorn plant" referring to the large.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. T he seed capsules of devil's claws are clearly adapted for hitchhiking on the hooves of large grazing animals. where the natural dispersal agent for some large seed pods are unknown.

Perhaps a more logical contender for this record are the massive subterranean yams of the genus Dioscorea. Some of the top contenders for this record are the blades of large brown algae called kelp. but not as a dessert. The World's Smallest & Largest Seed file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.htm (25 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . [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.] Remember that pumpkins and squash must be disqualified because they are seed-bearing fruits even though they may be eaten with your main entree. some of which may weigh over 120 pounds (54 kg). not to be confused with the true horseradish of the mustard family (Armoracia lapathifolia). then there are a number of possible contenders for this coveted record. 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. 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. and the tender leaves of the horseradish tree (Moringa oleifera).Botanical Record-Breakers Devil's Claws: Hitchhikers On Big Animals Wayne's Word Top 17 Hitchhiking Plants The Cocklebur: Nature's Velcro® 9. In order to reduce the size of this file and the time it takes to load.

file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. It should be noted here that the largest seed does not have the largest embryo. The world's largest seed comes from the coco-de-mer palm (Lodoicea maldivica).htm (26 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .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. In fact." A single seed may be 12 inches (30 cm) long. They are dispersed into the air like minute dust particles or single-celled spores.9 m) in circumference and weigh 40 pounds (18 kg). this enormous seed is often called the "double coconut. palm seeds are mostly composed of endosperm tissue and generally have relatively small embryos (see photo link below). Although it belongs to a different genus from true coconut palms (Cocos). native to the Seychelles Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. eventually coming to rest in the upper canopy of rain forest trees. nearly three feet (0.

file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. there are practically no food reserves. In order to germinate under natural conditions. therefore. or it may retain its mycorrizal relationship throughout its life. Mustard family (Brassicaceae): Black mustard (Brassica nigra). Since the seeds have no endosperm and underdeveloped embryos. wolffia seeds are not as small as orchid seeds. During early stages of development. similar to bacterial and fungal cultures. Wolffia certainly has the record for smallest fruits which are not much larger than grains of ordinary table salt (NaCl). Poppy family (Papaveraceae): Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum).Botanical Record-Breakers Small seeds. It absorbs carbohydrates and minerals from its fungal host. Duckweed family (Lemnaceae): Watermeal (Wolffia angusta). which in turn absorbs these vital nutrients from the roots of nearby forest trees. the orchids have the record for smallest seeds. Orchid family (Orchidaceae): Coral-root orchid (Corallorhiza maculata). Orchid seeds are also grown under aseptic conditions in nutrient agar.htm (27 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . the fungus supplies critical nutrients to the orchid seedling. a one-seeded fruit called a utricle. The above coral-root orchid seed (Corallorhiza) grows into a nonphotosynthetic mycotrophic wildflower. Later the orchid may become fully independent. they must establish a symbiotic relationship with a compatible mycorrhizal fungus. The single seed inside is almost as large as the fruit. Without any doubt. The seeds of some species are no larger than fungal spores and occur in a loose cellular sheath.

The resolving power for an unaided human eye with 20-20 vision is about 0. During early stages of development. there are unusual bacterial cells that are larger than this orchid seed. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. like a sterile (axenic) culture of bacteria or fungal spores. In a laboratory. the fungus supplies critical nutrients to the orchid seedling. eventually coming to rest in the upper canopy of rain forest trees. this seed is barely visible to the naked eye. there are practically no food reserves. Later the orchid may become fully independent. The seeds of some species are no larger than fungal spores and occur in a loose cellular sheath. they must establish a symbiotic relationship with a compatible mycorrhizal soil fungus. which in turn absorbs these vital nutrients from the roots of nearby forest trees.1 mm. One seed capsule from a single flower may contain up to four million seeds. Certain epiphytic orchids of the tropical rain forest produce the world's smallest seeds weighing only 35 millionths of an ounce. The individual seed is only about 0. In fact. The above coral-root orchid seed (Corallorhiza) grows into a nonphotosynthetic mycotrophic wildflower that is completely dependent on its mycorrhizal fungus. the orchid absorbs carbohydrates and minerals from its fungal partner. They are dispersed into the air like minute dust particles or single-celled spores. undifferentiated embryo. With its cellular sheath (seed coat) removed. or it may retain its mycorrhizal relationship throughout its life. orchid seeds can be grown in nutrient agar.htm (28 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Since the seeds have no endosperm and a minute. Throughout its life. In order to germinate under natural conditions.Botanical Record-Breakers Microscopic view of the seed of a coral-root orcid (Corallorhiza maculata).2 mm in diameter.

The seeds are dispersed into the wind like dust particles. so millions of seeds are released to increase the odds.Botanical Record-Breakers The seed pod (capsule) of an unknown orchid containing many thousands of minute seeds. excelsa) has slightly smaller seeds. Each seed is enclosed in a cellular sheath (seed coat) resembling a short. the probability of an orchid seed finding a suitable place for germination and a compatible fungal partner are unlikely. Since the cotyledons are part of the embryo. Seeds of M. this species is certainly a strong contender for the record of world's largest seed. In Costa Rica.R. The seeds float in ocean current with their two large cotyledons connected or separate. 1976). Another species (M.htm (29 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . the two cotyledons comprise most of the seed. a large tree that grows in tidal marshlands and estuaries along the Pacific coast of tropical America. oleifera may be up to 7 inches (18 cm) long and up to 5 inches (8 cm) wide. In nature. this tree often forms nearly pure stands just behind the mangrove swamps. the record for the largest seed embryo goes to Mora oleifera (Fabaceae). silky hair. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Gunn (World Guide To Tropical Drift Seeds and Fruits. Dried cotyledons washed up on beaches superficially resemble the shells of a bivalve mollusk. Like other exalbuminous legume seeds. 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.

a palm native to Thailand with a leaf up to 4 meters long that is completely undivided. The raffia palm (Raphia regalis) of tropical Africa has huge pinnate leaves up to 80 feet (24 m) long. The golf ball-sized fruits of Manicaria palms. 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. this is perhaps the largest embryo of any seed. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.Botanical Record-Breakers Seed of Mora oleifera showing the two large cotyledons. a palm native to Madagascar with a leaf up to 5 meters in length that is divided only once at the tip. The seeds float in ocean water with their two large cotyledons connected or separate. according to Chuck Hubbuch of Fairchild Tropical Garden. The leaves of the Amazonian palm (Manicaria saccifera) are nearly 30 feet (8 m) long." commonly wash ashore on beaches throughout the Caribbean and southern Florida. palms also have the record for the largest leaves. called "sea coconuts. Florida. and have been listed by some authors as the longest undivided leaf of any plant. and Johannesteijsmannia altifrons. the leaf is typically divided shallowly at the tip and is not truly entire.htm (30 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Dried cotyledons that wash ashore on beaches superficially resemble the shells of a bivalve mollusk. Coral Gables. Since the cotyledons are technically part of the embryo. Mora oleifera is a large tree that grows in tidal marshlands along the Pacific coast of tropical America. There are two additional candidates for the record of longest undivided leaf: Marojejya darianii. However.

including whirling like a helicopter. 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. Like the coconut (Cocos nucifera). file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Airborne seeds have several ingenious methods of flying through the air. and floating like miniature parachutes with tufts of fine hairs. seed-bearing endocarp surrounded by a husk composed of a thin mesocarp and a smooth. Of all the types of "helicopter seeds.Botanical Record-Breakers Provocative Seed Provocative seed and immature fruits of the Seychelles Island Palm (Lodoicea maldivica)." those of Gyrocarpus are the most remarkable.htm (31 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . gliding. the seed is enclosed by a thick. The complete fruit (drupe) contains of an enormous. woody endocarp. outer exocarp. 11. This is truly the largest seed produced by any plant on earth.

Florida 33256 USA A ny discussion of large airborne seeds would not be complete without mentioning the quipo tree (Cavanillesia platanifolia). Miami. produces one of the largest winged seeds up to 5 inches (13 cm) wide inside a large. The football-sized gourds hang from a vine high in the forest canopy. gliders and kites. Although the seeds vary in shape. streamlined seed reportedly inspired the wing design of some early aircraft. each packed with hundreds of winged seeds.O. This large. Box 560483. carpeting the ground beneath the huge canopy of this striking tropical tree.htm (32 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . this seed-bearing structure is the actual fruit. a massive rain forest tree in the bombax family (Bombacaeae) native to Panama. some of the most symmetrical ones superficially resemble the shape of the "flying wing" aircraft or a modern Stealth Bomber. Although it is large. native to the Sunda Islands of the Malay Archipelago. club-shaped gourd. A lsomitra is one of the most unusual members of the diverse gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). The enormous winged fruits of the quipo tree flutter through the air. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Seed courtesy of The Cucurbit Network P. The seeds have two papery wing membranes and become airborne like a glider when released from the fruit.Botanical Record-Breakers T he climbing gourd (Alsomitra macrocarpa). and not an individual seed as in Alsomitra.

such as sea beans (Mucuna) and sea hearts (Entada) have probably floated longer distances in the sea. Some widespread drift seeds. This scenario is precisely what happens to countless drift seeds and fruits. a remarkable rain forest tree in the bombax family (Bombacaceae) with huge winged fruits.htm (33 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . This massive tree is native to Panama. a remarkable flotilla of flowering plants that travel the oceans of the world. The world's record for the longest distance traveled is difficult to determine. In addition to long ocean voyages. most of these drift seeds have pantropical distributions and their precise point of origin cannot be determined. The Longest Distance Traveled By A Drift Seed I magine floating helplessly in the open sea. the sea heart file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The Diverse Gourd Family (Cucurbitaceae The Wind Dispersal of Seeds & Fruits 12. Eventually you might drift ashore on the beach of a tropical island or distant continent. thousands of miles from land.Botanical Record-Breakers The quipo tree (Cavanillesia platanifolia). your destination at the mercy of the wind and currents. however.

000 miles. the Mary's been is known from Wotho Atoll in the Marshall Islands to the beaches of Norway. woody seed coat and internal air cavities enable this remarkable seed to drift for years at sea. from Central America to beaches of Norway. B ut there is one drift seed with a very limited point of origin called the "Mary's bean" (Merremia discoidesperma). Named after the Virgin Mary. The Mary's bean (Merremia discoidesperma) is certainly one of the most elusive and interesting of all drift seeds in fact and fiction. According to the world authority on drift seeds. a total distance of more than 15.htm (34 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . it is also called the crucifixion bean because of a distinctive cross etched on one side. this is the widest documented drift range for any seed or fruit. Gunn (World Guide To Tropical Drift Seeds and Fruits. 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. 1976). Charles R. 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. As an ocean drift seed.Botanical Record-Breakers (Entada gigas) also produced the longest bean pod of any member of the legume family (Fabaceae).

Under ideal conditions a single plant of the Indian species Wolffia microscopica may reproduce vegetatively by budding every 30 hours. To help in the dispersal process.] Population Growth For Biology Students Population Growth Of Wolffia By Budding See: The World's Smallest Flowering Plant 14. the parasitic pine mistletoe Arceuthobium can forcibly eject its seeds. [Of course. [Note: Bacteria are the fastest dividing cells in the world. The fuzzy brown spike of a common cattail Typha latifolia may contain a million tiny seeds. Some plants produce astronomical numbers of seeds and spores in a single season. Some tropical orchids may produce more than a million seeds per flower. 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. 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.Botanical Record-Breakers 13. The seeds can travel high into the atmosphere and may cross entire mountain ranges before settling down in a distant march. each with a tuft of hairs that carries them into the wind like a miniature parachute. This astronomical number of bacteria (one followed by 650 zeros) far exceeds the number of electrons in some models of the universe. The small fruits of this truly amazing plant literally fire their tiny.htm (35 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . One minute plant could theoretically give rise to one nonillion plants (one followed by 30 zeros) in about four months. 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 World's Fastest Reproducing Plants W olffia plants also have the fastest population growth rate of any seed plant. with a spherical volume roughly equivalent to the size of the earth. It has been estimated that if one bacterium divided every 20 minutes and all the offspring lived and reproduced at the same rate. thus increasing the odds of their tiny airborne progeny finding another suitable substrate high in the rain forest canopy where sunlight is available. you must remember that this fantastic projected number of bacteria is preposterous. Starting with one basketball-sized puffball fungus (Calvatea gigantea). They can easily be felt as they strike tender parts of your body. [Note: This is an file:///C|/wayne/ww0601.

one of the most astonishing plants in the world. For some of these traps the actual method of insect decomposition involves digestive enzymes produced by the plant and bacterial decay within the trap. those with passive traps and those with active traps. 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. struggling victim. where an insect falls into a vase-like modified leaf. Other well-known passive traps are the "flypaper" or adhesive traps of sundews (Drosera) and butterworts (Pinguicula). a rapid plant movement takes place as an integral part of the trapping process. and has been clocked at 18 inches a day. the leaves are covered with sticky. The Pacific giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) may grow up to 150 feet (46 m) or more in length. A classic passive trap is the "pitfall trap" of pitcher plants (Darlingtonia and Sarracenia). they could extend for nearly a mile.0002 miles per hour.htm (36 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The record for total growth in length after a period of time may go to a species of marine algae. gland-tipped hairs (Drosera) or a sticky (viscid) layer of mucilage (Pinguicula) which entangle the hopeless. Bamboo: Remarkable Giant Grasses Photos Of Major Algae Divisions Imbibition: The Power Of Plants 15. In both of these unrelated genera.9 m) a day have been recorded--an astonishing 0. When triggered by an insect. I n active traps.] Growth increments of three feet (0. It might be only 50 feet (15 m) in three months.Botanical Record-Breakers unsubstantiated report. and the hapless victim ultimately drowns in a pool of digestive enzymes at the bottom. 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. Carnivorous plants may be subdivided into 2 major groups. Downward-pointing hairs on the slippery walls prevent the insect from crawling out. the leaf blade folds closed along its midrib bringing the two halves together. 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. Only when one hair is touched twice or two hairs are touched in file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Probably the best known active trap is the Venus' flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). Touching one hair will not trigger the closing mechanism.

This little submersed aquatic plant has one of nature's most precise and delicate traps. The action of this remarkable mechanism involves a rapid loss of turgor pressure within the leaf cells on the upper side of the leaf. This causes the walls to squeeze inward and explains their slightly concave appearance. a partial vacuum is produced inside the bladder and the pressure on the outside becomes greater than inside. Some authorities consider these finely divided branchlets to be modified leaves. The door hangs down from the top of the entrance like a garage door. The flattened.Botanical Record-Breakers succession will the leaf blade fold closed. Thousands of minute bladders are attached to feathery submersed branchlets by tiny stalks. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Support tissue and a mucilage coating around the door frame helps to seal the door and prevent water from entering the bladder. The door opening is surrounded by several bristly hairs that resemble the antennae of a tiny crustacean or insect. Numerous. thus trapping the insect like bars in a jail cell. As a result. At one end is an opening and a flap of tissue which forms the door. and the plant gets a supplemental source of nitrogen.htm (37 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . except it opens inward. Digestive enzymes from glands on the leaf surface break down the proteins of the imprisoned victim. A fringe of stiff hairs around the edge of the blade become interlocked (intermeshed) when the blade folds closed. and certainly the most rapid. tiny glands inside the bladder absorb most of the internal water and expel it on the outside. T he only carnivorous plant with a true "trapdoor" is the remarkable bladderwort (Utricularia). This strategy generally prevents an inanimate object (such as a pebble or small stick) from activating the trap. pear-shaped bladders range in diameter from 2 millimeters (the size of a pinhead) to about 4 millimeters (the size of a BB).

but like a door that opens inwardly. When a minute aquatic organism touches or hits one of these extremely sensitive hairs. slightly larger than the head of an ordinary straight pin. when the bladder trap is filled with water. underwater view of the slender branchlets of a bladderwort plant (Utricularia vulgaris) bearing tiny. legs. This breaks the watertight seal and. The entire bladder is about 2 mm across. the hair acts as a lever. The tail. multiplying the force of impact and bending or distorting the very pliable door. it cannot be pushed open from the inside.Botanical Record-Breakers Left: A microscopic. since the bladder contains a partial vacuum.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). T he airtight door of a bladderwort trap is hinged to allow easy entry as it swings inwardly. pear-shaped bladders. the hapless victim is sucked in. Special trigger hairs near the lower free edge of the door cause it to open. roughly the speed of a daylight camera shutter setting. the door cannot be forced open from within. and antennae of the copepod are clearly visible. The whole trapping process occurs within 15 to 20 milliseconds (about 1/60 of a second). Bladder extracts from some species of bladderworts indicate that enzymes secreted by the plant may be involved in the digestion process. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Note the bristly hairs at the entrance to the bladder traps (red arrow). a minute crustacean related to a shrimp.

If you happen to be a small insect. ricin is 6. your method of contact with the plant. the most insidious plant toxins affecting people are lectins. 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. extremely poisonous proteins including ricin from the seeds of castor bean (Ricinus communis) and abrin from the seeds of rosary bean (Abrus precatorius). It has been estimated that gram for gram.htm (39 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Of course.000 times more poisonous than rattlesnake venom. With the exception of certain pathogenic bacteria. then a Venus fly-trap or a related carnivorous plant might be your most dangerous (and last) botanical encounter.000 times more poisonous than cyanide and 12. and the laws of probability. their degree of toxicity depends on how they are administered.Botanical Record-Breakers See Wayne's Word Article About Carnivorous Plants 16. 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.

and aflatoxin (Aspergillus parasiticus). and file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. See Ribosomes In An Animal Cell I n 1978. Without protein synthesis at the ribosomes. a cell cannot maintain itself and soon dies. the beautiful designs on the seeds exhibit infinite genetic variation. 1998). particularly ticks engorged with blood. The small structure on the end of each seed is a caruncle. tropical. On some plants the fruits are green. along with anthrax (Bacillus anthracis). some airports hand-inspected umbrellas packed in carry-on luggage. 1998). a Bulgarian dissident. Georgi Markov. Like the faces and fingerprints of people. Right: The many "faces" of castor bean seeds.htm (40 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . was assassinated in London after being pricked by a ricin-tipped umbrella. Drugs.Botanical Record-Breakers Left: Castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) showing large.500 ribosomes per minute and kill the cell. botulism toxin (Clostridium botulinum). UN investigator teams (UNSCOM) discovered that Iraq was purifying ricin for possible use in biological warfare. perfringens). Ricin causes a slow and painful death through blood poisoning and a breakdown of the circulatory system. palmately-lobed leaf and cluster of spiny red fruits. F ollowing the Gulf War. The seeds superficially resemble the bodies of ticks. 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. thus altering its molecular structure and function. gas gangrene (C. Even before the tragic terrorist plane crashes into the Trade Center Twin Towers in New York. A ccording to the Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals. From: Facts on File News Services (13 Feb. 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. One of the two protein subunits of ricin (RTA) is a deadly enzyme that removes purines (such as adenine) from ribosomal RNA. There is no known antidote for ricin poisoning. From: Facts on File News Services (23 Jan.

A fascinating article on botulism appeared in Scientific American. Glycosides & Terpenes file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. Of course. and this heating would undoubtedly denature the toxic proteinaceous lectins inside. 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. Brightly colored rosary beans are commonly strung for seed jewelry in Mexico and Central America. one thoroughly masticated seed of rosary bean (Abrus precatorius) can cause fatal poisoning. They are often made into bracelets and earrings in Central America. the chance of being struck by lightning is actually greater than winning the California Lottery. April.] Pod and striking seeds of rosary bean (Abrus precatorius). However. the undisputed record for the deadliest natural toxin goes to the anaerobic bacterium of spoiled food (Clostridium botulinum). arsenic and snake venoms).Botanical Record-Breakers Biologicals. [In fact. So deadly is the toxin (even deadlier than strychnine. Sometimes the seeds are boiled in order to facilitate the piercing of their hard seed coats. 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. 1968.htm (41 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . One ounce could theoretically kill 30 million tons of living matter and one pound could kill the entire human population. 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.

The fleshy stem segments of many species of cactus are heavily armed with sharp spines. acetylcholine and 5-hydroxytryptamine. the spiny stem segments are easily detached and are quickly transferred to your body appendages. The slender shaft of the trichome is composed of silica. including histamine. beveled tip similar to a hypodermic needle. A related species (genus Traga) injects a painful crystal of calcium oxalate into your skin. The spine shaft of some species. Mala mujer (Cnidoscolus angustidens) is a Mexican roadside plant covered with stinging hairs. glistening hairs (called trichomes) readily penetrate your skin and release some very irritating chemicals into your epidermal layer. Some tropical nettles can be absolutely excruciating and cause numbness that may persist for weeks.htm (42 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . acetylcholine and 5-hydroxytryptamine. To make matters worse. When you try to remove the spine. I would say that the most painful botanical experiences include close encounters with jumping cholla cactus. you pull against these scales which catch on your flesh. such as jumping cholla (Opuntia bigelovii) are covered with microscopic overlapping scales all lying in the same direction. The stinging toxin from this species of nettle is a combination of chemicals. bulbous base is injected into the skin tissue. 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. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. including histamine. the sharp. The trichomes of true nettles in the genera Urtica and Urera inject your skin with several stinging chemicals. stinging hairs of "mala mujer" and poison oak. Like nettles. and the rounded apex breaks off with the slightest touch creating a sharp. The hollow trichome readily penetrates the skin and toxin from the enlarged. This nucleated cell is embedded in a pedestal-like base composed of smaller epidermal cells. T he stinging hair of the common North American nettle (Urtica dioica) is actually a sharp-pointed cell called a trichome.Botanical Record-Breakers 17.

perfectly preserved in nature's transparent tomb. Severe cases may require hospitalization. Jet is a black mineral similar to hardened coal. New Guinea. especially if droplets of urushiol have been inhaled in the smoke from burning poison oak. Vegetable ivory is a hemicellulose polymer that comprises the endosperm of some palm seeds. or precious and semiprecious stones. itching rash develops. shiny pieces of coral. With a hardness and luster of true ivory. Contact with the sap of poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and the closely related poison ivy and poison sumac causes a miserable. The Ultimate & Most Painful Hitchhikers Stinging Trichomes Of Cnidoscolus angustidens Poison Oak: More Than Just Scratching The Surface 18. Amber is the fossilized resin of ancient forests that thrived millions of years ago.Botanical Record-Breakers T here are reports of the incapacitation and death of horses from the Australian bush nettle Dendrocnide moroides. neighboring skin tissue is also destroyed and a blistering. plastic-like polymer. The Most Valuable Botanical Jewels M ost people think of natural jewelry as pearls. There are unconfirmed reports of human fatalities from a nettle called "devil-leaf" (Laportea or Dendrocnide) in Papua. But there are botanical gems that rival some of these minerals in value and beauty. it can be polished and used in jewely. 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. durable. The urushiol readily penetrates the skin where it is ultimately destroyed by killer T-cells through a very complicated cell-mediated immune response. allergic reaction with the body's immune system. Fluid oozes from blood vessels and lymphatics (edema) and cell death and necrosis (breakdown) of skin tissue occurs. In general.htm (43 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . polished and set in gold or silver. During the destruction of urushiol. the resins are literally metamorphosed into a hard. Often the amber contains insects and spiders 30 to 50 million years old (or older). formed by the carbonization of ancient conifer file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. During the fossilization process. 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). The chemical mechanism responsible for the extreme pain from contact with these tree nettles is apparently different from North American nettles.

Botanical Record-Breakers forests buried beneath the sea. It takes a high polish and makes beautiful pendants and necklaces. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. only the alleged pearl was on display. In fact. and concluded that they were the pearls of giant clams of the genus Tridacna. Unfortunately. or whether they are calcareous concretions from giant clams. several botany textbooks flatly state that coconut pearls are a hoax because proof of their existence is totally unfounded. But of all these "botanical jewels. Like the pearls of oysters and giant clams. 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). or a myth that has been perpetuated for centuries. the Dutch zoologist A. It was discovered on Celebes Island in the Java Sea and presented to Dr. with no record or photos of the original coconut from where it came. Reyne studied the structure of 70 so-called coconut pearls in public and private collections. The famous "Maharajah Coconut Pearl" was on display at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in Coral Gables.htm (44 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] ." certainly the rarest is the legendary "coconut pearl" that occasionally forms inside a coconut (Cocos nucifera). it is a shiny calcareous sphere. David Fairchild in 1940. Florida during the 1990s. In 1939." There is considerable disagreement among botanists as to whether coconut pearls actually exist. the legendary "coconut pearl.

Coconuts were later introduced into the Americas by these early traders.Botanical Record-Breakers The famous "Maharajah coconut pearl" sitting in the shell of a coconut. This alleged botanical jewel was on display at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in the city of Coral Gables. 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. coconut pearls come from "blind coconuts. they all belong to either of two major types known as niu kafa and niu vai. 1989). The center of origin for ocean-dispersed coconuts appears to be the Indo-Malaysian region. Portuguese and Spanish traders introduced the coconut into West Africa after 1500. Although there are many varieties of coconuts. According to R.htm (45 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Florida. and this abnormal situation may in some unknown way be related to the formation of a stone. They called it "coco" from the Portuguese or Spanish slang word for monkey face. fibrous hair (husk). supposedly because of the eye pattern on the endocarp and the brown. Without a germination pore the embryonic growth within the hard-shelled nut is supposedly retarded. up to six inches in diameter. See The Ocean Dispersal Of Wild Niu Kafa Coconuts A ccording to a display at the Fairchild Tropical Garden. with a small egg-shaped nut surrounded by an file:///C|/wayne/ww0601." so called because the inner nut or endocarp does not have the three characteristic "eyes" (germination pores) of a typical coconut. angular fruit. Sokolov (Natural History Oct. The niu kafa type have an elongate. "Cocos" may be traced to the three germination pores on the endocarp layer surrounding the seed.

Harries (Botanical Review Vol. 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. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. 1978). 44. wild-type coconut. up to ten inches in diameter.Botanical Record-Breakers unusually thick husk. naturally-evolved. The niu vai type was derived by domestic selection for increased endosperm ("meat" and "milk") and is widely dispersed and cultivated by humans. According to Hugh C. coconut palms probably originated on tropical islands of the Indo-Malaysian region. disseminated by floating. the niu kafa type represents the ancestral. with a larger spherical nut inside a thin husk.htm (46 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Niu vai coconuts have a larger more spherical fruit.

The hard inner layer (endocarp) contains the actual seed composed of a minute embryo and food storage tissue (endosperm). This mass of tissue is called the "coconut apple" and is essentially the functional cotyledon of the seed. During germination. This stage of the endosperm development is called "spoon meat.htm (47 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .] It dissolves and absorbs the nutrient-rich endosperm tissue to supply the developing shoot with sugars and minerals. Just inside the functional germination pore is a minute embryo embedded in the endosperm tissue. one functional pore and two plugged pores.] 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 white color has been altered in order to clearly differentiate it from the endosperm. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601." 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 endosperm is the coconut "meat" which is dried and sold as "copra. Eventualy. "Coir" fibers are derived from the fibrous mesocarp.Botanical Record-Breakers Sprouting fruit of a coconut Cocos nucifera. The saturated fat called "coconut oil" is derived from the meaty endosperm. The coconut "apple" is rich in sugars and is a sweet delicacy in tropical countries." The coconut "water" is multinucleate liquid endosperm inside green coconuts that has not developed into solid tissue composed of cells. typical of the palm family (Arecaceae). the developing palm becomes self sufficient. a spongy mass develps from the base of the embryo and fills the seed cavity. [In "blind coconuts" all three pores are plugged. The endocarp has three germination pores. as its leaves produce sugars through photosynthesis and its roots absorb minerals from the soil. Before the liquid endosperm forms a solid "meat" it is jellylike and may be eaten with a spoon.

fibrous husk (mesocarp) that surrounds the endocarp has been removed. 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. 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. Apparently Fairchild did not have that actual "blind coconut" from which the pearl was derived. woody layer that makes up the inner part of the fruit wall. The alleged coconut "pearl" apparently develops where the embryo is located. cylindrical embryo (A) embedded in the fleshy meat or endosperm (B). 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").htm (48 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . The wall of the endocarp (C) is a hard. It was published in 1943 by Charles Scribner's Sons.Botanical Record-Breakers Close-up view through the inside of a coconut seed showing a small. New York." file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. The thick.

000 U. because it may be impossible to prove its authenticity. Formerly. From the limited available information so far. The odds of finding one in a coconut is certainly less than one in a million." Please Click On This Link 20. The Most Complex Plant-Insect Relationship file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. the alleged "pearls" appear to be calcareous. According to biochemist Abraham D. Disclaimer: Authenticity Of Coconut Pearls If You Are Considering The Purchase Of One Of These Plant "Gems. often mounted in jeweled settings of gold and silver.htm (49 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .Botanical Record-Breakers T he alleged coconut pearl is certainly one of the most interesting of all "botanical gemstones. Krikorian (Principes Vol. it would take roughly 80 years to go through a million coconuts.S. See The Remarkable Grass Known As Bamboo I t is difficult to place a monetary value on a coconut pearl. dollars in December of 2003. 26. if you cracked open and thoroughly examined one coconut every 15 minutes during a normal eight hour work day. its exact chemical composition has remained an enigma because researchers are reluctant to damage one during an assay. In his classic six-volume work entitled Herbarium Amboinense (1741-1750). The alleged coconut pearl illustrated at the following link was priced at $60. who has studied the writings of the distinguished 17th century naturalist Georg Eberhard Rumphius. all "blind" coconuts belonged to the Radja and were not the property of those who found them." In fact. they do not appear to be the same chemical composition as vegetable ivory or the siliceous stones that form inside bamboo stems. See An Alleged Coconut Pearl That Is For Sale 19. Rumphius described and illustrated exquisite coconut pearls owned by Malaysian dynasties. To put it another way. suggesting that they may be slowly dissolving. 1982). Rumphius reported that coconut stones readily lose their luster when boiled in a weak acid solution of vinegar or lemon juice. Apparently poreless (blind) coconuts bring high prices in the Orient and are only found in the collections of the wealthy Radjas and merchants.

flower-bearing structures called syconia. Each tiny flower consists of a five-parted calyx and an ovary with a long style. the ovary of this type of flower contains a seed rather than a wasp (assuming it is pollinated). "in-house" population of symbiotic wasps. fleshy. The syconium is lined on the inside with hundreds of tiny. S yconia of California wasp-pollinated "Calimyrna figs" contain only female flowers and must be pollinated in order to ripen.000 species of figs. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. what we typically associate with a fig "fruit" is actually an inside-out flower cluster (inflorescence) called a syconium. and they all have their own pollinator wasp species that only enters their syconia through a small opening to pollinate the female flowers inside. mostly distributed throughout tropical regions of the world. At one end is a small opening called an ostiole. 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). This remarkable floral dimorphism is how the fig tree produces seeds while still maintaining its vital. the seed-producing. Male and female fig wasps are borne inside hollow. Without pollination Calimyrna syconia fail to ripen and drop from the branches. and the wasps develop from eggs laid inside the ovaries of the short-style female flowers (one egg per flower). In a strict botanical sense.Botanical Record-Breakers T he most complex and truly extraordinary method of insect pollination occurs in fig trees of genus Ficus. but in all other fig species (referred to as dioecious or gynodioecious). pollen-bearing male flowers and seed-bearing female flowers. male flowers and the long and short-style female flowers occur in the same bisexual syconium. Following pollination and fertilization the ovaries develop into minute one-seeded drupelets with a hard inner layer (endocarp) surrounding the seed. The seed-bearing drupelets produce the superior nutty flavor and crunch. In about half of the fig species (referred to as monoecious). long-style female flowers only occur in unisexual syconia on female trees.htm (50 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . There are approximately 1. Since wasp eggs are not laid in the long-style flowers.

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. It is functionally male because it produces pollen. Her ovipositor is not long enough to penetrate the ovaries of these flowers so she does not deposit an egg. 2.htm (51 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . Ficus carica has 2 sexual forms. Caprifig trees are monoecious with separate male (staminate) flowers and short-style female (pistillate) flowers within the syconia. the "male" caprifig and the female tree (edible fig). Fig seeds develop inside the ovaries of long-style flowers since there is no larva to eat them. Since a hungry wasp larva occupies each ovary. Seeds develop within the ovaries of these flowers since the styles are too long for the female wasp to oviposit through. Edible Calimyrna fig syconia contain only long-style female flowers.Botanical Record-Breakers Syconia Of The Calimyrna Fig (Ficus carica): 1.

ravaging insects and browsing mammals eat the leaves and branches. slowing the growth of the acacias and allowing fast-growing. Symbiotic ants have taken over this vital defense role. protecting the acacia from hungry herbivores and pruning away competing plants.htm (52 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .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. The ants live inside inflated thorns at the base of leaves. competing vegetation to shade them out. 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. Without bitter alkaloids. sweet-smelling structure that file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. 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. The World's Largest Stinking Blossoms A typical flower may be stereotyped as a colorful.

some of the most remarkable are known as "carrion flowers. and the reward for their pollination service is a carbohydrate-rich. file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. there are many notable exceptions. and produce inconspicuous flowers with copious airborne or water-dispersed pollen. spore-laden. often with a dense covering of hair." showy blossoms with the stench of rotting flesh. But of all the exceptions to the typical flower stereotype. While the above scenario fits the majority of flowering plants. carrion flowers simulate the odor of a rotting carcass and attract carrion beetles and a variety of flies including blowflies. carrion flowers also entice flesh and fecal-loving insects to visit their stinking blossoms. A variety of insects find the showy petals and fragrance irresistible. sugary nectar secretion from the flower. flesh flies and midges. Not only do these flowers smell like a dead animal. Like the putrid. Unlike the fragrant blossoms that attract bees. Some plants rely on wind or water for pollination.Botanical Record-Breakers attracts insects.htm (53 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] . stinking fungi that also attract blow flies. butterflies and moths. but their petals are typically flesh-colored. They belong to a variety of different and unrelated plant families. and include some of the largest and most bizarre flowers on earth.

The infamous stinking corpse lily (Rafflesia arnoldii). See Article About Stinking Flowers See The Wayne's Word Fungus Article file:///C|/wayne/ww0601. It belongs to the Rafflesiaceae.htm (54 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .Botanical Record-Breakers Left: The largest and most bizarre of all stinking flowers is the Malaysian corpse flower or titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum). and occasionally breaks through the bark as a huge bud that expands into an enormous blossom 3 feet (0. a member of the arum family Araceae. Right: Another Amorphophallus titanum near the end of its gigantic leaf stage.9 m) across and weighing an astonishing 25 pounds (11 kg). unisexual flowers crowded together. This remarkable Malaysian/Indonesian endoparasite lives completely within its host vine. That record goes to yet another stinking flower Rafflesia arnoldii. The withered compound leaf is supported by ties to the shadecloth ceiling framework. it is technically not the world's largest flower. a strange family of endoparasitic plants that live inside their host shrub or vine. The erect spadix is actually an inflorescence composed of many. Although this blossom may reach eight feet (24 m) in height. small . the world's largest flower.

they do make fascinating highlights for biology and botany lectures. Most of these records will probably remain obscure trivia. Although they may never make the book buyer's best seller list.htm (55 of 56) [12/19/2003 8:37:28 AM] .Botanical Record-Breakers T here are literally hundreds of other botanical record-breakers. 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. the list of categories is only limited by one's imagination. hidden away in the bewildering maze of botanical literature. 22. and help to keep students in the last row from falling asleep.

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] .