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A game of hide-and-seek

08 February 2021
High in the Hengduan mountains of Southwest China, the valuable herb Fritillaria delavayi commonly known as Fritillary or 梭砂贝母(suō shā bèi mǔ) in Chinese, grows. Traditionally used to treat respiratory ailments, the group of Fritillary herb (川贝 chuān bèi) can be found in Asian cough remedies. A kilogram of the plant’s bulb is valued more than SGD 600 (approx. USD480). This herb can only grow at high elevations with cold and dry conditions, making the growing conditions hard to replicate for cultivation. As a result, fritillary can only be harvested from the wild and wild populations run the risk of getting overharvested. However, researchers found that in areas where fritillary is popularly harvested, the colours of the plant have become duller, blending into the surrounding. Whereas in inaccessible areas, the colours of the herb remain vibrant. This plant may be the first threatened species where natural selection can be observed to have played a part for the species to hide from its predator – Humans. Click on the title to read more.

Newfound Species is Possibly World's Ugliest Orchid

20 January 2021
Researchers from Kew have described a new leafless orchid with mottled brown flowers that resemble a mouldy paper bag. The orchid, Gastrodia agnicellus spends most of its life hidden beneath leaf litter in the tropical forests of Madagascar. It emerges after pollination, where fruit pods grow above the leaf litter for better seed dispersal. This small orchid relies on fungi for food as it does not have any photosynthetic ability. The flower has a musky rose-like scent that intensifies under warmer temperatures to attract its pollinators. Click the title above to read more.

Interest in gardening surges amid pandemic

01 December 2020
Gardening has flourished during COVID-19. In Singapore, especially during circuit breaker period, many people who are stuck at home has picked up this new hobby to occupy their free time. Some of them have transformed a small part of their home into their own unique oasis. Nurturing these plants have helped people to relieve their stress and calm their minds. Click the title above to read more.

The Sahara Desert has millions of trees!

05 November 2020
A recent analysis of a database of satellite images using artificial intelligence revealed that there are over 1.8 billion trees and shrubs with a crown size more than 3 square metres in size across a 1.3 million square kilometre area of West Africa and Sahel. The analysis also allows scientists to determine how much carbon is stored in deserts, a factor that is not currently included when modelling for climate change related research. Click the title above to read more.

Island with the most plant species recorded

01 October 2020
More than 13, 600 plant species are recorded in New Guinea, making it the world’s richest island flora. The survey documented 19 percent more plant species than Madagascar and 22 percent more than Borneo — regions that also rank among the most biodiverse on Earth. More than two thirds of the species are only found on New Guinea. Researcher added that there is still more flora to uncover. It is estimated that over the next 50 years, botanists will add between 3,000 to 4,000 species to the list. Click the title above to read more.
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