The Secret Power of Mint

The Secret Power of Mint Chocolate. Ice cream. Cookies. Coffee. Tea. Chewing gum. They can all feature mint flavorings. In the 21st century, where delectable chemistry can produce seemingly unending concoctions, it’s easy to forget that many of our seasonings and spices are plants, not just artificial flavors. Even chocolate, which can be quite delicious mixed with […]

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Mortal Flower That Perishes Like All That Is Pure

Mortal Flower That Perishes Like All That Is Pure One of life’s great small pleasures is the glory that emerges from translating proper native names into other languages. Sometimes we garner a euphonious moniker with a plain strict translation. For example, Katahdin is a musical name that means “Great Mountain.” While Maine’s High Point certainty is a

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Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? / Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!  –Lydia Maria Child, “Over the River and Through the Wood” We continue a tradition of exploring plants and animals associated with Thanksgiving, after investigating wild turkeys, cranberry sauce, and maize. Though cranberry sauce contains some sweetness, most people do not consume it

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The Corpse Flower

The Corpse Flower Today’s featured object is chock full of interesting and bizarre tidbits. We’ll start with a sentence you probably never thought you’d read: anthophiles worldwide flock to the smell of corpses. Fret not, it’s not human bodies attracting plant lovers, just a scent similar to the one that might emanate from dead bodies. 

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Sakura If one should ask you concerning the spirit of a true Japanese, point to the wild cherry blossom shining in the morning sun. –Motoori Norinaga, Shikishima no Uta  Since at least the 8th century, people in Japan have practiced hanami, which translates literally to “flower viewing.” The flower in question is the sakura, also known as

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Maize Many myths surround the first Thanksgiving celebration in the United States. The gathering most commonly cited as the inaugural festival happened in October 1621. For three days, 53 Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony dined with 90 Wampanoags to revel in gratitude for a bountiful harvest. For many people, today’s traditional Thanksgiving meal centers around items

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Plants Can Hear

Plants Can Hear As humans, we are experts at anthropomorphology. We easily identify aspects in other organisms that match our own. For example, we understand the eyes of animals, which appear largely similar to our peepers, provide the critters with sight. In art, a long tradition of attributing human traits to non-human entities has provided

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It’s All Mustard

It’s All Mustard   Today, we connotatively view mustard as a yellow condiment we might slather on sandwiches. It’s easy to forget that delicious spread comes from the seeds of plants known as mustards. In the grand genealogical tree, mustard plants fall into the Brassicaceae family. This demarcation not only includes mustards but also cabbages

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Poseidon’s Ribbon Weed: The World’s Largest Plant

Poseidon’s Ribbon Weed: The World’s Largest Plant On the western flank of Australia, 500 miles north of Perth, the ocean meets the continent in a jagged puzzle piece that resembles two disembodied legs. This spot is known as Shark Bay. UNESCO declared Shark Bay a World Heritage Site in 1991. They cited the bay’s enormous

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