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  • cemetery excavation
  • fungi network
  • Pteris vittata ferns
Your search has returned 651 articles:
  • News

    People may have smoked marijuana in rituals 2,500 years ago in western China

    Mourners gathered at a cemetery in what’s now western China around 2,500 years ago to inhale fumes of burning cannabis plants that wafted from small wooden containers. High levels of the psychoactive compound THC in those ignited plants, also known as marijuana, would have induced altered states of consciousness. 

    Evidence of this practice comes from Jirzankal Cemetery in Central Asia’s...

    06/12/2019 - 14:01 Archaeology, Plants
  • News

    Some fungi trade phosphorus with plants like savvy stockbrokers

    Some stringy fungi are tough negotiators, trading nutrients shrewdly with plants.

    An advance in tracking the nutrient phosphorus has revealed new details of ancient trading networks between fungi and plants. Some fungal species grow what are called arbuscular mycorrhizal connections underground, reaching intimately into plant roots. These fungi pull phosphorus from the soil and trade it...

    06/10/2019 - 10:00 Fungi, Plants, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    How one fern hoards toxic arsenic in its fronds and doesn’t die

    The Chinese brake fern looks unassuming. But Pteris vittata has a superpower: It sucks up arsenic, tucks the toxic metal away in its fronds and lives to tell the tale.

    No other plants or animals are known to match its ability to hoard the heavy metal. Now researchers have identified three genes essential to how the fern accumulates arsenic, according to a study in the May 20 Current...

    06/04/2019 - 09:00 Pollution, Ecosystems, Plants
  • News

    Some plants use hairy roots and acid to access nutrients in rock

    No soil? No problem. Some herbaceous shrubs living on rocky mountains in Brazil use roots equipped with fine hairs and acids to dissolve rocks and extract the key nutrient phosphorus. The discovery, published in the May Functional Ecology, helps explain how a variety of plants can survive in impoverished environments.

    “While most people tend to view nutrient-poor environments as less...

    05/22/2019 - 07:00 Plants, Ecology
  • News

    How allergens in pollen help plants do more than make you sneeze

    “Are plants trying to kill us?” allergy sufferers often ask Deborah Devis.

    A plant molecular geneticist at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus in Australia, Devis should know the answer better than most. She is chugging through the last few months of a Ph.D. that involves predicting how grasses use pollen proteins that make people sneeze, wheeze and weep for days on end.

    What...

    05/19/2019 - 08:00 Health, Plants, Immune Science
  • News in Brief

    An ancient pouch reveals the hallucinogen stash of an Andes shaman

    A leather bag stuffed with ritual items, found high in the Andes Mountains, has yielded rare clues to South American shamans’ hallucinatory visions around 1,000 years ago.

    One artifact in the radiocarbon-dated bag, a pouch stitched out of three fox snouts, contains chemical traces of five mind-altering substances obtained from at least three plants, say bioarchaeologist Melanie Miller of...

    05/06/2019 - 15:00 Archaeology, Plants
  • Feature

    Climate change made the Arctic greener. Now parts of it are turning brown.

    The Chugach people of southern Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula have picked berries for generations. Tart blueberries and sweet, raspberry-like salmonberries — an Alaska favorite — are baked into pies and boiled into jams. But in the summer of 2009, the bushes stayed brown and the berries never came. 

    For three more years, harvests failed. “It hit the communities very hard,” says Nathan Lojewski...

    04/11/2019 - 07:00 Climate, Ecosystems, Plants
  • News

    A major crop pest can make tomato plants lie to their neighbors

    Don’t blame the tomato. Tiny pests called silverleaf whiteflies can make a tomato plant spread deceptive scents that leave its neighbors vulnerable to attach.

    Sap-sucking Bemisia tabaci, an invasive menace to a wide range of crops, are definitely insects. Yet when they attack a tomato plant, prompting a silent shriek of scents, the plant starts smelling as if bacteria or fungi have...

    04/04/2019 - 06:00 Plants, Animals, Agriculture
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers have questions about Ultima Thule, thirsty plants and vitamin D

    Which way is up?

    Initial observations of the Kuiper Belt object MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule, suggested it had a snowmanlike shape. Ultima Thule’s two lobes are connected by a narrow neck that appears brighter than the rest of the space rock’s surface, Lisa Grossman reported in “New Horizons shows Ultima Thule looks like a snowman, or maybe BB-8” (SN: 2/2/19, p. 7). 

    “The photo of...

    03/07/2019 - 06:00 Astronomy, Plants, Health
  • It's Alive

    Shutdown aside, Joshua trees live an odd life

    A year when vandals trashed a Joshua tree in a national park during a U.S. government shutdown is a good time to talk about what’s so unusual about these iconic plants.

    The trees’ chubby branches ending in rosettes of pointy green leaves add a touch of Dr. Seuss to the Mojave Desert in the U.S. Southwest. Its two species belong to the same family as agave and, believe it or not,...

    02/06/2019 - 08:00 Plants, Conservation, Science & Society