Which is the world's largest flower?

Rafflesia Arnoldii, or the corpse flower, is the largest individual flower on Earth. It is a species of flowering plant in the parasitic genus Rafflesia found in the rain-forests of Sumatra and Borneo. With a strong and unpleasant odour of decaying flesh, it grows to a diameter of around one metre and weighs up to 11 kilograms. The buds of these flowers are about 30 cm wide and are very large and cabbage- like, in maroon or dark brown colour.

The flower is in fact a pot with five petals with striking red-brick and spotted cream colours, which warmly welcome carrion flies that are hungry for detritus. But the plant is now facing the threat of extinction and its existence is limited to places like Sumatra, Borneo, Thailand and the Philippines, because of depredations caused by humans and its own internal biology.

In terms of survival, everything seems to be against Rafflesia. Firstly, its seeds are difficult to germinate. As a result, it sustains entirely as a parasite on just one type of vine. This is dangerous as it can't survive without the vine. Apart from this, once it has acquired its nutrition by being a parasite, the plant breaks out as a flower bud, swells up over several months, and then bursts into flower. But even after this arduous growth phase, most of the flower buds perish before blooming. Even after blooming, Rafflesia can last only a few days, and is forced to pollinate in this short period of time. But the chances of pollination are very rare as the numbers of plants are decreasing steadily.

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WHAT IS THE ENCHANTED MESA?

A butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top created by the gradual erosion of the earth around by water, wind or ice. The Enchanted Mesa is a sandstone butte in New Mexico where the Acoma tribe lived, until a heavy storm and a landslide destroyed the only access to the peak, forcing them to move elsewhere.

Enchanted Mesa is a sandstone butte in Cibola County, New Mexico, United States, about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) northeast of the pueblo of Acoma. It is called Mesa Encantada in Spanish and Katzimo or Kadzima in Keresan. Acoma tradition says that Enchanted Mesa was the home of the Acoma people until a severe storm and landslide destroyed the only approach. There are no longer any ruins on the flat top. The butte is 430 ft (130 m) high, 1,250 ft (380 m) long and only 400 ft (120 m) ft wide, at its widest. The elevation at the top is 6,643 ft (2,025 m).

In 1892, when Charles F. Lummis was visiting Acoma he listened to the old Indian governor, Martín Valle, who told the story of how the Acoma people used to live on Enchanted Mesa. Their access to the top was on the southern side where a large piece of the butte was said to have spalled off and formed a ramp, a "stone ladder", up to the top. In reality, access was by climbing a ladder in a narrow fissure. Evidence of holes carved into the sandstone on either side of the fissure can be seen, located in the horseshoe shaped bowl at the southern end. The early inhabitants had a precipitous climb up the fissure, but it assured their safety. Into these holes were placed stout lengths of wood, the 'rungs' of the ladder. Today, this is still the only means of climbing access to the top of the mesa. Their fields, and the springs that were their water source, were in the valley. In the summer, the entire village would descend into the valley to tend the crops. One afternoon a severe thunderstorm washed away the "stone ladder", leaving only sheer rock faces all the way around the butte. Legend has it that three old women and a young boy had been left in the village, but they could not get down, nor could anyone else get back to the village. A giant thunderbird swooped down and scooped up the four and carried them to the valley floor. The Acoma people abandoned Enchanted Mesa and moved to White Rock Mesa, now called Acoma.

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WHEN DID PLANTS START TO GROW ON LAND?

The first land plants appeared during the Silurian period, around 440 million years ago. These simple plants reproduced by releasing spores. Plants produced oxygen and provided food for the first land animals - amphibians. Amphibians first developed in the Devonian period, 420 million years ago, from fish whose fins evolved into limbs.

Botanists now believe that plants evolved from the algae; the development of the plant kingdom may have resulted from evolutionary changes that occurred when photosynthetic multicellular organisms invaded the continents. The earliest fossil evidence for land plants consists of isolated spores, tracheid-like tubes, and sheets of cells found in Ordovician rocks. The abundance and diversity of these fossils increase into the Silurian Period (about 443.8 million to 419.2 million years ago), where the first macroscopic (megafossil) evidence for land plants has been found. These megafossils consist of slender forking axes that are only a few centimetres long. Some of the axes terminate in sporangia that bear trilete spores (i.e., spores that divide meiotically to form a tetrad). Because a trilete mark indicates that the spores are the product of meiosis, the fertile axes may be interpreted as the sporophyte phase of the life cycle.

Fossils of this type could represent either vascular plants or bryophytes. Another possibility is that they are neither but include ancestors of vascular plants, bryophytes, or both. The earliest fossils also include at least one or more additional plant groups that became extinct early in the colonization of the land and therefore have no living descendants. By the early Devonian Period (about 419.2 million to 393.3 million years ago), some of the fossils that consist of forking axes with terminal sporangia also produced a central strand of tracheids, the specialized water-conducting cells of the xylem. Tracheids are a diagnostic feature of vascular plants and are the basis for the division name, Tracheophyta.

Credit: Britannica

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What are fruit and its types?


FRUITS



All plants produce fruits that contain their seeds. Some fruits are dry husks, but others are juicy and tasty. These attract animals, which eat them and carry the seeds in their stomachs. The tough-skinned seeds are not digested, but are scattered far away from the parent plant in the animals’ droppings, and grow into new plants. The fruits are cultivated types that have been specially bred for their size and flavour.




  1. ORANGE An orange has very soft juicy flesh contained in many segments, which are enclosed by a hard rind. Each segment usually contains a seed, or pip. An orange is technically a type of berry, which develops over the winter from the single ovary of an orange flower. Green at first, it turns orange as it swells to full size.

  2. BANANA The bananas that are cultivated in the tropics have been bred to be seedless, but the wild bananas of Southeast Asia have small fruits containing many big, hard seeds. They grow in bunches on large plants with huge leaves that sprout straight from the ground.

  3. NUTS All nuts are large seeds, which the plant has equipped with a store of concentrated plant food. This ensures that the seedlings get a good start in life. The nut is surrounded by a hard shell, which is technically a fruit, but tough and fibrous rather than soft and juicy.

  4. DURIAN To attract fruit-eating mammals, many fruits are fragrant. The Southeast Asian durian fruit is famous for its strong aroma, which some people like and others hate. Animals such as forest pigs and orang-utans seem to love both its smell and taste.

  5. GRAPES Some fruits such as grapes grow as clusters of soft, edible, thin-skinned berries. Each berry has several seeds embedded in its flesh, although many cultivated varieties of grapes are seedless. Berries are often vividly coloured to attract birds, which have excellent colour vision.

  6. PEACH The juicy flesh of a peach, plum, or cherry encloses a hard “stone” that contains a single seed. This type of fruit is called a drupe. The fleshy part is meant to be eaten, so animals spread the seeds, but some animals such as parrots can crack the stones and eat the seeds, too.

  7. BROAD BEAN The edible part of a broad bean plant is its seeds, and its fruit is the entire pod. The wild ancestors of such beans do not attract animals. Instead, their pods dry up and split open with explosive force, so the seeds shoot out and are scattered on the ground.

  8. TOMATO Not all fruits are edible. Some of the wild relatives of tomatoes are extremely poisonous. They include deadly nightshade, which is lethal to humans, although some animals can eat the berries without coming to harm. Tomatoes are also related to chilli peppers.




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How are heaviest tree are grows?


TREES



Trees are the tallest, heaviest, and oldest of all living things. The Californian giant sequoia known as General Sherman weighs approximately 6,000 tonnes - 30 times as much as the biggest animal, the blue whale. The oldest living bristlecone pine tree, which also grows in California, is nearly 5,000 years old. Yet even these ancient giants can still produce tiny seeds that grow into new trees.



LEAVES Like all green plants, trees absorb sunlight through their leaves and use its energy to turn air and water into sugar. A tree’s leaves are its food factories.



COMPOUND LEAVES Most trees have simple leaves of various shapes, but some have compound leaves, made up of many leaflets. These either sprout from a long stalk (pinnate) or fan out from a single point (palmate).



NEEDLES AND SCALES Thin leaves make food efficiently, but they are easily damaged by hot sunshine or frost. So many trees that grow in very hot or cold places have thicker, tougher needles or scales.



FRUIT The flowers of some trees turn into juicy fruits that contain seeds. If birds eat the fruit, the seeds pass through them unharmed and are scattered far away.



TREE RINGS Every year a tree adds a layer of new wood to its trunk. If the tree is cut down, each year’s growth shows as a visible ring, so the number of rings gives its age.



FLOWERS All trees produce flowers, but some may not be obvious because they do not have colourful petals. Other trees, however, such as apples, have showy flowers that attract insects.



SEEDS AND NUTS Some trees have tiny seeds, but others produce the bigger seeds we call nuts. Animals eat them, but also bury and forget them, so they grow into new trees.



CONES Coniferous trees such as pines have woody cones that contain small papery seeds. When the cones open up in the sun, the seeds fall out and blow way.



DECIDUOUS LEAVES Many trees lose their leaves in winter, and grow new ones in spring. Before they fall, the old leaves lose their green colour and turn yellow, brown or even red.



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