This is a high-speed video of a crocus flower unfolding.
Pieter van de Koppel from the Netherlands made the video.
This video says about itself:
12 Feb 2013
This Valentine’s Day, Americans will spend .5 billion on approximately 220 million flowers, most of which are roses grown in Colombia and Ecuador. The billion dollar flower industry in Colombia, in fact, employs over 100,000 workers.
Unfortunately, the truth about this booming market is that working conditions on flower farms are often far from rosy (pun intended). Many workers find themselves stricken with asthma from inhaling fuel and pesticide fumes; work seven days a week; and rarely receive vacation or overtime. Access to medical care and educational opportunities are also scarce–a harsh reality for those who need it the most.
The good news is that you can still give that special someone a bouquet of beautiful red roses this Valentine’s Day AND support the farmers and workers that grew them. Fair Trade Certified™ flowers are a great way to celebrate this 700-year-old holiday—a way to share the love with folks at home and give special thanks to farmers and workers abroad.
Take the case of Ana Salome Sivinta, a 25-year-old woman who works among 175 employees at Jardines Piaveri, a Fair Trade flower estate in Ecuador. Prior to working at Piaveri, Ana worked at a broccoli farm where she had no benefits–not even those required by Ecuadorian law. She had no job or labor protections, no access to healthcare, was not paid minimum wage, and did not earn overtime for extra hours worked at the farm.
Ana’s life changed significantly after she began working at a Fair Trade estate. She now has access to medical care, enjoys 21 vacation days a year, can afford to see a dentist, earns higher wages, and is also able to borrow money through a loan program made possible by the Fair Trade Community Development Premium.
With this additional income, Ana was able to buy a small plot of land and build her own home. She also purchased a washing machine, and can now spend less time washing clothes in the river and more time at home with her family and friends.
When we asked Ana what message she would like to send to American consumers this Valentine’s Day, she replied:
“I would ask that they continue buying Fair Trade flowers, because with that income the families that work on the certified farm can improve our standard of living and can provide a better future for our children.” — Ana Salome Sivinta, Jardines Piaveri flower estate
A gift of Fair Trade flowers also supports women’s empowerment, and education for workers and their families. Meet María Carmelina Chimborazo Guamangalle, a 22-year-old single mother who came to the AGROCOEX estate in Ecuador after working for years on a conventional flower farm.
In addition to feeling that she is valued as both a woman and a worker, Fair Trade makes it easier for María to balance her job with parenthood. She now has access to things like transportation subsidies, child care services and monthly incentive bonuses to further support her family. Student grants made possible by Fair Trade Premiums also helped María complete her secondary education; she now aspires to grow her leadership role at the farm. “I want to see this company grow, and I want to grow within this company,” said María.
María is deeply proud of her work at AGROCOEX, and believes that Fair Trade has played an important role not only in her own life, but in the future life of her child.
“I live today, and for tomorrow I see better days for myself and my little daughter.” – María Carmelina Chimborazo Guamangalle, AGROCOEX flower estate
We cannot think of a better message to share with you this Valentine’s Day. By giving the gift of Fair Trade Certified flowers to your loved ones at home, you’re also showing support for women like María and Ana who are working hard for a better tomorrow. So go forth, and share the love.
By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:
Blooming flower industry exploits Colombian and Kenyan workers
Friday 14th February 2014
War on Want research finds women toiling for half the living wage in unsafe conditions
Valentine’s Day is the most lucrative date in the flower retailers’ calendar yet workers in developing countries are risking their health and toiling for a pittance supplying British supermarkets.
Bouquets are sold for vastly inflated prices but research by anti-poverty charity War on Want has found the mainly female workforce in Colombia and Kenya supplying those flowers continues to slave for as little as half the living wage.
Workers also suffer problems such as disabling repetitive strain injuries and miscarriages through exposure to toxic pesticides, the charity said.
Supermarkets sell around 70 per cent of all the flowers bought in Britain — the highest proportion in Europe.
While many British firms have adopted voluntary standards for their suppliers, these are still failing to protect the health and safety of workers or ensure basic workers’ rights.
War on Want believes government regulation is necessary to introduce binding legislation to hold companies to account for the impacts in their supply chains.
It argues that workers supplying multinational companies in Britain should have the right to redress in this country and the ability to seek compensation for damage to their health or loss of earnings as the result of actions of British companies and their suppliers.
The charity is calling for the establishment of a supermarket watchdog to tackle abuses by British firms and their suppliers.
War on Want spokesman Paul Collins said: “Millions of people buying Valentine’s Day roses for their loved ones will be shocked to learn that many workers supplying them face poor pay and conditions.
“It is nothing less than a disgrace that company bosses are piling up profits while Kenyans on flower farms struggle to feed themselves and their families, and live in slum housing. British corporate leaders must ensure a living wage and decent conditions for them.”
Mr Collins added that with London Fashion week due to begin today, “we urge shoppers not only to press retailers on flower workers’ treatment, but on the need to guarantee a living wage and good, safe conditions for those who make our clothes or supply fruit, tea and wine sold in UK stores.”
This video is called How to fold a poinsettia flower, origami.
But … are the originals on which the paper copies are based, really flowers?
From eNature Blog in the USA:
Are Christmas Poinsettias Really Flowers—Or Something Else?
Posted on Monday, December 02, 2013 by eNature
Poinsettias seem to be everywhere during the holiday season— schools, homes, offices and everywhere in between.
But how many of us have seen a poinsettia in the wild? And what’s a plant doing blooming right as winter is beginning?
Just where did this plant come from?
What Exactly Is A Poinsettia?
It’s lot more than just a pretty flower (more on that below). In the wild, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a shrub or small tree, ranging in height from 2 to as high as 16 feet. Originally a native of Mexico, the plant has been introduced throughout the temperate regions of the world and there are now over 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettia.
It’s Not A Red Flower
The colored parts of a poinsettia that make it so noticeable are actually not flower petals, but colored leaves known as bracts. Measuring 3 to 6 inches in length, bracts are most often brilliant red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, or white. A poinsettia’s flowers are grouped within the small yellow structures, known as cyathia, found in the center of each leaf bunch. The plant’s distinctive colorful bracts are thought to have evolved as an alternative to bright flowers as a means to attract pollinators.
The process that produces color in the bracts is known as photoperiodism—poinsettias require darkness for 12 hours at a time for at least 5 days in a row to change color. The long nights of the Northern Hemisphere this time of year bring color to the poinsettia’s bracts and are most likely what led to the poinsettia and its bright colors being associated with the Christmas holidays.
The Secret Of A Good-looking Poinsettia
Until about 20 years ago, the companies of the Ecke family in Encinitas, CA used a proprietary growing process to dominate the US market for poinsettia, supplying over 80% of all poinsettias sold in the U.S.
The Eckes grafted two varieties of poinsettia together to create the familiar, densely-leaved, bushy plants that we’ve come to know. These carefully cultivated plants have a much more marketable appearance than the plant’s sparser and more open natural appearance. In the early 1990’s the secret of the Ecke’s grafting process got out and many competitors, primarily outside the US have arisen since.
Are Poinsettias Poisonous?
Much like with mistletoe, many folks believe that poinsettia is poisonous if ingested. And as with mistletoe, the data suggest that such concerns are mostly likely highly overblown. While some sensitive individuals may notice an allergic reaction to the plant’s sap or oils, the the poinsettia’s toxicity is relatively mild. An American Journal of Emergency Medicine study of 22,793 cases reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers noted no fatalities from poinsettia ingestion and reported that almost all poinsettia exposures were accidental and usually didn’t result in any type of medical treatment.
That said, children who ingest the plant should be observed and treated for poisoning symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea, at home if they do arise. If there’s any doubt, parents should call their local poison control center and follow the advice given.
Do you have poinsettias in your home or garden? Or do you use other plants to mark the season?
We’re always interested in your stories.
This video from New Zealand is about how kakapo are released into the wild.
From Wildlife Extra:
Flightless parrots & burrowing bats helping to save rare parasitic Hades flower
October 2012. Ancient dung from a cave in the South Island of New Zealand has revealed a previously unsuspected relationship between two of the country’s most unusual threatened species.
Fossilised kakapo dung (coprolites) contained large amounts of pollen of a rare parasitic plant, Dactylanthus (commonly known as “wood rose” or “Hades flower”), which lives underground and has no roots or leaves itself. Researchers from the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide and Landcare Research and the Department of Conservation in New Zealand report the discovery today in the journal Conservation Biology.
Short tailed bat
The musky sweet smell of the dactylanthus flower attracts the only remaining known native pollinator, the endangered New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat, which forages extensively on the forest floor.
Kakapo are extinct from mainland New Zealand and their recent introduction to the island sanctuary of Hauturu/Little Barrier Island, where dactylanthus still survives, has re-united the two species for the first time in potentially a century.
“This is an important example of an apparent tight co-evolutionary relationship between threatened endemic species – the plant and burrowing bat – simply representing ‘the last men standing’,” said ACAD DirectorProfessor Alan Cooper.
“The coprolites suggest that kakapo may have served as pollinators, probably along with other species, which is critical for conservation – and reveal the extent of the ecosystem links which have been broken.”
Lead researcher Dr Jamie Wood, from Landcare Research in New Zealand, said: “Coprolites are one of the only ways to reconstruct important pre-human ecological relationships, such as pollination and seed dispersal, which must be restored to conserve these species over the long term.”
The team is funded by a New Zealand Marsden grant to study the pre-human ecosystem using preserved coprolites from caves and rockshelters across New Zealand.
Dr Janet Wilmhurst from Landcare Research said: “Dactylanthus is now restricted to around 4% of its pre-human range, due to forest clearance, predation by introduced mammals and a lack of pollinators and seed dispersers. Scattered populations only survive in the central North Island.”
This video from the USA says about itself:
Celebrated Afghani Singer Finds Asylum Restoring Native Plants at Stagecoach Vineyard
Some mornings, master gardener Isshan Momman sits above the Napa Valley fog line, beside the acacia trees and watches the golden eagles fly across Stagecoach Vineyards as he thinks about God, his music and his escape from Afghanistan. Momman is one of 60,000 Afghan refugees living in California.
Dr. Jan Krupp recruited Momman, the rebab-playing, songwriting godsend with the green thumb who is now replanting over 2,000 native holly-leaf ceanothus among a 1108 acres plot of vineyard land, dirt and rock known as Stagecoach Vineyard.
But once upon a time, Momman produced, composed and sang Pashto music for Afghanistan TV.
By Kate Clark:
Afghanistan is particularly rich in flowering plants. This may be counter-intuitive, given how relatively dry the country is, but there are far more species and sub-species here than, for example, in damper central Europe which is much more favourable for plant growth. 4500 flowering plants have been identified so far in Afghanistan and many more, it is believed, are yet to be found and named.
A particularly high proportion of those plants, 30 per cent – are endemic, ie they are found nowhere else in the world. By way of comparison, the British Isles has only a handful of endemic species out of about 1700 flowering plants. Unlike Britain, where each new ice age tended to wipe the land clean of species, Afghanistan’s valleys acted as refuges for plants. That allowed them, over millions of years, to evolve into a multiplicity of new species, specially adapted to very local conditions. As Breckle and Rafiqpoor point out, this is evidence of the ‘major importance of the Afghan/Central Asiatic area as a very old and major centre of development and evolution in flowering plants, at all levels, family, genus, species.’ (The same pattern is true for Afghanistan’s fauna – which has more species of vertebrates than Europe does.)
In Afghanistan, the old geology and wide diversity of habitats has also contributed to diversity. Habitats range from the high mountains of the north-east which rise to 7000m to the deserts of Helmand at about 500m: there are alpine meadows, some dense forests, although rapidly receding due to logging and fire wood collection, pistachio and juniper woodland, and steppes and arid deserts and even sub-tropical semi-deserts.
The result is startling biodiversity. There are more than 600 species of legumes/pea family, including the spiny cushion plants (Astragulus) so typical of much of the Afghan landscape with 380 endemic species; there are more than 500 Compositae/daisy family, including 144 types of thistle alone, 93 of which are endemic to Afghanistan; also, 225 species of the Cruciferae/cabbage family. Then there is the Labiatae/mint family with 205 species, including more than 40 species of cat mint (Nepeta), 24 of clary (Salvia), as well as thyme (Thymus), mint (Mentha) and marjoram (Origanum). Other families producing spectacle and beauty are the lillies (Liliaceae) with 156 species, including 15 species of tulips and 65 of onions and the irises (Iridaceae), with more than 30 species.
Let us hope that not too many of those plants will die because of bombs exploding or tanks riding over them. And that not too many of the trees will be cut down as Afghan people, desperately poor because of the war, see no alternative to them as fuel.
From DISCOVER Magazine:
After 32,000 Years, an Ice Age Flower Blooms Again
Permafrost is like nature’s freezer.
by Eric A. Powell
Deep in the frozen tundra of northeastern Siberia, a squirrel buried fruits some 32,000 years ago from a plant that bore white flowers. This winter a team of Russian scientists announced that they had unearthed the fruit and brought tissue from it back to life. The fruits are about 30,000 years older than the Israeli date palm seed that previously held the record as the oldest tissue to give life to healthy plants.
The researchers were studying ancient soil composition in an exposed Siberian riverbank in 1995 when they discovered the first of 70 fossilized Ice Age squirrel burrows, some of which stored up to 800,000 seeds and fruits. Permafrost had preserved tissue from one species—a narrow-leafed campion plant—exceptionally well, so researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences recently decided to culture the cells to see if they would grow. Team leader Svetlana Yashina re-created Siberian conditions in the lab and watched as the refrigerated tissue sprouted buds that developed into 36 flowering plants within weeks.
This summer Yashina’s team plans to revisit the tundra to search for even older burrows and seeds.
The flowering plant of this article is Silene stenophylla.
This is a Victoria amazonica time-lapse video.
Why have the Leiden leaves shrunk?
Research showed that there was too much iron in the water. People throw coins in the water to help the hothouses financially. Euro coins, which replaced earlier Dutch coins, of 5, 2 and 1 cents have copper and steel. In water, these coins rust.
Nymphaea thermarum is the world’s smallest water lily. It nearly became extinct. Now, some are in the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands.