2016 “How Plants Work” News Highlights – October

From Flowers That Smell Like Stressed Bees To Corn That Smells Like “Help Me!” October 2016 seemed to feature an unusual number of quirky plant news stories. For example, we previously saw an orchid that smelled like body odor, presumably to attract mosquitos. Now here’s another weird flower smell… “A …

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How Pruning Works – More New Evidence Regarding the Curious Case of Apical Dominance

Slurping Sugars The main reason for pruning plants is to stimulate the growth of axillary buds, a.k.a., lateral buds. (Please see previous post.) But why is the growth of axillary buds stimulated by cutting off the terminal (or apical) bud? The most common explanation of this is the long-known, and …

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Plant “Fountain of Youth”? – Increasing the Longevity of Plants Through Genetic Modification

Forever Young? In a previous post, we saw how some Spanish scientists genetically modified (GM) plants in the genus Pelargonium (more commonly known as geraniums) so that they don’t produce pollen. (You can view the abstract of this paper here or read a provisional copy of the complete paper via …

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How Stress Shapes Plants

To make complex organisms takes specialized cells. Animals and flowering plants require specialized cells with distinct abilities in order to accomplish higher order functions – such as vision or flowering. It’s somewhat like a symphony orchestra. The orchestra integrates different musicians playing different instruments. The characteristic sounds of the instruments …

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A New Master Plant Hormone?

What if the roots of flowering plants produced chemical signals that regulated the branching and thickening of their shoots, i.e., secondary growth? Chemical signals used by plants to regulate their development and physiology are called plant hormones. Very small amounts of these compounds, acting alone or in tandem, often elicit …

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