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    1st course: Seagrass ****

    What’s the one dietary fact everybody knows about sharks? Correct, they eat human beings – as graphically shown in the creature feature film sensation of 1975, the movie Jaws (and its various good, bad, and indifferent sequels…). As so-called apex predators, sharks are famously considered to be carnivorous, but, that’s not necessarily so. Samantha Leigh […] More

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    Food, glorious food! ***, ****

    Plants provide animals [and it is acknowledged that the following listing is somewhat human-biased] with many things: e.g. medicines; building materials; oxygen; useful chemicals (e.g. dyes such as madder, essential oils for aromatherapy, and the natural pesticide pyrethrin); fuel to heat our homes or move our motor cars; fibres (e.g. cotton and jute); ‘recreational’ drugs […] More

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    Wood-wide web wins world-renowned writing award

    The Overstory by Richard Powers, 2018. William Heinemann. As a would-be botanical educator who’s reviewed a lot of botany texts over the years, I don’t really have time to review – or just read – ‘novels’. But, having been impressed with the intelligent-plant-based science fictionesque novel Semiosis last year, and hearing that Richard Powers’ new […] More

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    Mammoth news: Bees help plants

    What! That’s news?? Surely everybody knows that many plants are pollinated by bees? Hopefully, yes, but this item is not about that well-known plant-insect association. OK, but does it feature mammoths? No, but it does have an elephantine dimension. Having laboured long and hard to plant and grow crops – to feed the family, and […] More

  • Diagram of fungus types
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    How fungi oxygenated the Earth

    Now that’s an eye-catching headline, isn’t it? The thought of mushrooms and toadstools – that famously don’t produce oxygen, unlike green plants with their oxygenic photosynthesis – adding oxygen to the planet’s atmosphere. What? How? Tell me more… Well, and as you probably suspect, it’s not direct activity of the fungi that generates the oxygen, […] More

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    The hyperactive heavy metal band

    It has been said that humans try to understand plants for two reasons: Either to kill them better – e.g. if they are considered to be weeds that compete for resources with our crop plants – or to exploit them for human advantage. In the latter category using plants to clean up the mess that […] More

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