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Not all cultivated watermelons are red. This triploid, seedless variety has sweet, yellow flesh. Bitter melon Momordica charantia that has split open, exposing several bright red seeds.

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The World's Oldest Germinated Seed. Osmunda claytoniana. Image from Wikimedia Commons. Seven Horticultural Wonders of the World. Illustration by Graphic Artist E. Dutchman's pipe Aristolochia clematitis Photo by H. Zell Wikimedia Commons.

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Giant Amazon water lily Victoria amazonicaa member of the water lily family Nyphaeaceae. Wayne's Word. Noteworthy Plants. Biology Table Of Botanical Record Breakers. Record Breakers Part I. Record Breakers Part II. Amazing Trivia About Plants. Go To Part 2. Armstrong Updated 26 January Fragmented creosote bush stem crown.

T 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. This is like an expanding tree trunk with the center wood dying and rotting away, with only the outer peripheral tissue remaining alive and producing branches. Photo from Wikimedia Commons, but photographer is not given. 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 atrobrunneaa common crustose lichen throughout granite peaks and domes of the Sierra Nevada. Left: A granite boulder covered with colonies of map lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum. This species of crustose lichen is appropriately named because the colonies resemble continents on the earth.

The thin layer of reddish iron oxide varnish on this rock surface has been etched to reveal the lighter granodiorite beneath. In some deserts of the world it takes 10, years for boulders to be completely coated with desert varnsish. Any discussion of ancient life would be incomplete without mentioning a remarkable discovery made in a deep mine shaft near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

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Bacterial spores of the genus Bacillus were isolated from pockets inclusions in salt crystals harvested from an underground salt bed 2, feet m below the surface. The salt deposits were formed from an ancient sea in a geologic formation that dates back about million years. What is so remarkable about these spores is that microbiologists succeeded in growing them in a laboratory.

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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 ificant discovery, see the article by R. Vreeland, W. Rosenzweig and D. Silene verecunda ssp. The flowers in above photo have a full-blown case of anther smut Ustilago violaceaa sexually transmitted disease that affects the anthers. This debilitating fungal disease causes the male organs anthers to blacken and shrivel, resulting in sterility and a very unsightly floral appearance.

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The brown, sooty, fungal spores are spread by insects to other flowers. Characteristic fan-shaped leaves of a living Ginkgo biloba.


It belongs to the botanical division phylum Ginkgophyta, a true gymnosperm with "naked" seeds. This is not a flowering plant, and the cherry-like "fruit" is not a fruit at all. It is a naked seed that is not enclosed in a ripened ovary or fruit, unlike all true flowering plants angiosperms. The ripened ovary fruit is composed of one or more carpels modified leaves.

The cherry blossoms are about to peak. get ready with these pictures from years past

It is easy to see that the single carpel of a milkweed Asclepias fruit called a follicle is a modified, seed-bearing leaf megasporophyll. A modern representation of the phylogeny of gymnosperms based on chloroplast DNA. Dichotomous paired sister branches clades with a common ancestor are said to be monophyletic and are more closely related.

For example, the conifer division Pinophyta Coniferophyta and ginkgo division Ginkgophyta have a common ancestor in the cycad division Cycadophyta.

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The pine family Pinaceae and a sister branch leading to six additional families have a common ancestor within the division Pinophyta. In other words, the seven major families of cone-bearing trees and shrubs all evolved from the division Pinophyta. The araucaria and podocarpus families Araucariaceae and Podocarpaceaewhich have their greatest diversity in the southern hemisphere, are monophyletic and occur side-by-side on sister clades. Chart by E. Armstrong I recently received an e-mail message from Brian Ottway of Portugal regarding the fern Osmunda claytoniana.

According to an article in the American Journal of BotanyOsmunda fronds from Triassic deposits in Antarctica are virtually identical to modern O. The fossil fern has been named O. Fossil evidence indicates that this species had a circumboreal distribution across North America, Europe and Asia. A South African baobab tree Adansonia digitataone of the most massive flowering plants. The enormous trunk may exceed feet 30 m in circumference and store 25, gallons of water weighing tons. The trunks in foreground are large aerial prop roots from the enormous tree in the distance.

Right: A massive strangler fig Ficus cotinifolia in Yucatan with numerous vinelike, aerial roots growing from the limbs. Some of the roots have fused anastomosed into massive pillars. The decayed trunk of the host tree is still visible inside the strangler's web of fused aerial roots. This is how large a Moreton Bay fig Ficus macrophylla can get in just over one century in southern California! It was planted in Glendora, California in the late s.

The enormous surface roots cover square feet 40 square meters. In its native habitat of eastern Australia, this species becomes a gigantic strangler.

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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. The mycelium of some Armillaria species may extend through the soil for hundreds of acres. An aspen clone in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah is composed of 47, stems of genetically identical aspen trees Populus tremuloideswith a total weight of 6 million kilograms 6, tons.

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Since the aspen is a dioecious species with separate male and female individuals in the populationthis monstrous clone is the same sex, in this case all males. The clone has developed asexually by suckering, where new adventitious stems arise from a gigantic spreading root system.

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Suckering is a common method of asexual reproduction in the willow family Salicaceaewhich includes cottonwoods Populuswillows Salix and aspen. The above-ground stems appear to be separate trees, but they all arose from a genetically identical root system. Like the creosote bush clones in the White Mountains of California, 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, but they still share a common genome.

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References: Grant, M. Mitton, J. Aspen trees Populus tremuloides commonly reproduce asexually by suckering adventitious stems. In some regions of western North America, entire forest populations stands may be genetically identical. For thousands of years these enormous clonal populations have been spreading across meadows and mountain slopes, and many of the trees actually share a common root system.

T here are approximatelyspecies of described flowering plants in the world, and they range in size from diminutive alpine daisies only a few inches tall to massive eucalyptus trees in Australia over feet 91 m tall. But the undisputed world's smallest flowering plants belong to the genus Wolffiaminute rootless plants that float at the surface of quiet streams and ponds.

I f a water molecule is represented by 10 0then a wolffia plant is about 10 20 power larger than the water molecule. The earth is about 10 20 power larger than a wolffia plant, or 10 40 power larger than the water molecule. W olffia plants also produce the world's smallest flower, 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. Several individuals of Wolffia angusta placed lengthwise inside the "eye" of an ordinary sewing needle.

The distinctive dorsal margin is clearly visible on one of the plants.