biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow Not Only Seeds Get Dispersed By Wind

Not Only Seeds Get Dispersed By Wind

Animals get blown off course as well

Everybody knows at least one plant whose seeds are dispersed by the wind: the dandelion. Its seeds and those of thistles as well look like little umbrellas with a tuft of fine and flimsy hairs at the top that catch the wind. Willow trees also produce seeds that are transported by the wind and the wing- or propeller-like seeds of the sycamore (also known as the planetree Platanus occidentalis) are familiar to most people. However, the wind disperses not just seeds (and pollen, of course), but also animals. —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow Pine needles

Pine Needles

Pine needles are not quite as needless as some think: they’re edible!

It’s quite amazing what people can do to turn certain plants or their parts and products into something insipid or savory (note: I am not saying that it has to be delicious). Especially in times of deprivation human inventiveness has produced amazing results, think about acorn coffee or acorn bread, or using the inner bark of birch trees to eat or making deadly poisonous cycad seeds palatable or cooking food with fresh pine tree needles. But why aren’t such kinds of uses more common – at least with regard to human gastronomy? There are after all always some animals that seem to relish what’s pretty awkward to handle digestively by humans. —>—>

Plants that Live on Plants – no, actually “live off” plants

Are plants that live on other plants parasites? Not really, right? Especially in the tropics, you can hardly find a tree on which there isn’t a growth of another kind of plant ranging from tiny mosses via larger ferns to proper seed-bearing species. However, such ‘epiphytes’ (as these species that are using a bigger individual as a support to grow on are called) may only weaken their host by being too numerous or by becoming too heavy. They can also affect their host by intercepting some rain water and shadowing some of the host plant’s leaves and/or by providing shelter to insects and other arthropods that can be foes as well as friends. However, as long as they do not sink their own roots into the host plant’s body, they are not removing anything from their host. And that’s different in species belonging to the genus Viscum, commonly known as the “mistletoe”. —>—>