Questions tagged [botany]

The study of plants and plant life.

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185
votes
3answers
30k views

Why are so few foods blue?

Although blue foods exist, they're rare enough compared to other foods for food preparers to use blue plasters as a convention. The natural colour of a given food is due to pigments that have some ...
120
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4answers
5k views

Is there a reason why human eyesight and plants make use of the same wavelength of light?

The accepted range for the wavelengths of light that the human eye can detect is roughly between 400nm and 700nm. Is it a co-incidence that these wavelengths are identical to those in the ...
104
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8answers
18k views

Why do plants have green leaves and not red?

I know plants are green due to chlorophyll. Surely it would be more beneficial for plants to be red than green as by being green they reflect green light and do not absorb it even though green light ...
61
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1answer
6k views

What could cause a forest of bent trees?

While hiking on the northern Idaho-Montana border, I encountered a large area where virtually every tree is bent at the base in the downhill direction. Only the very largest and very smallest trees ...
49
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2answers
9k views

Why does cutting onion cause tears?​

When I looked on a couple of sites, I found that it is because of sulfuric acid produced by onions. But I could not find more details. What is the biochemical pathway by which onion causes tears? Also,...
45
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1answer
3k views

What is it that creates that wonderful smell after a fresh rain?

I've heard that the wonderful smell of a fresh rain is actually chemicals released from the trees and grass and other plants. What is the process that allows these chemicals to be released? What are ...
44
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3answers
2k views

How does the sensitive plant detect vibrations?

The sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica) is a remarkable little plant whose characteristic feature is its ability to droop its leaves when disturbed: Apparently, this ability to droop rests on the cells ...
42
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4answers
18k views

Do plants produce any heat?

Many plants (e.g. roses, palms) can be protected from frost during the winter if shielded with an appropriate coat that can be bought in garden shops. Do plants produce any heat that can be kept ...
40
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4answers
11k views

Why would a plant evolve to produce an addictive chemical?

It seems kind of anti-productive in terms of survival for a plant to produce an addictive chemical as that plant will constantly be sought after by animals that ingest it. In this instance, I'm ...
39
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1answer
21k views

Why does a coconut have exactly three “holes”?

Why do coconuts have exactly three "holes", as seen in this picture? A theory says: As coconut is a sibling of palm, somehow long time ago, three palms were in a same husk. Based on evolution theory, ...
34
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3answers
10k views

Do trees really get a large share of their mass from the carbon in the air?

I remember hearing that trees and other plants actually obtain a large amount of their mass from the carbon floating in the air, not the ground beneath them. Does the makeup of air actually contain ...
34
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1answer
3k views

Ripening bananas artificially: What is the biological theory behind?

I am a resident of the tropical island of Sri Lanka, and we have a strange traditional method to ripen our banana harvest quickly. What we do is this: We dig a pit in earth that is enough to put the ...
32
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3answers
7k views

Can plants suffer from CO2 poisoning?

Is there a point where too much CO2 is bad for a plant? Basically when there is too much CO2 in the air can a plant get sick? Since plants photosynthesize and need CO2 to generate glucose and store ...
31
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4answers
7k views

How do trees manage to grow equally in all directions?

I was walking down a road with these beautifully huge trees when this question occurred to me. Large trees with many thick branches have to grow equally in all directions, or they would tip over. Is ...
31
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1answer
8k views

How long will a vegetable live for after being harvested?

I understand this might depend on the types of vegetables, but is there an average or studied specifics? Does it die immediately? Is there a way to precisely diagnose death in plants? If so, what are ...
29
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1answer
2k views

Do trees age on a microscopic level?

Most animals age via at least two mechinisms: at a "macroscopic" level, basically wear and tear to the point where (on evolutionary time scales) it's more genetically advantageous to optimize for ...
28
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2answers
2k views

Do plant-animal cross races exist?

Plants and animals have the following distinct properties: Plants live from solar energy by photosynthesis, they use solar energy to make sugar and oxygen out of carbon dioxide, which gives them ...
27
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3answers
6k views

Is a walnut a nut or a drupe?

We've been learning about fruits (and the various categories thereof) in class; among them we have the nut and the drupe. My textbook differentiates between those terms as: Nut: It is a single-...
27
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the lowest pressure at which plants can survive?

What is the lowest pressure at which plants can survive? How the plants behave in a Martian-type atmosphere? Is there any plant that can survive such atmosphere? Can a lichen grow at Martian pressure?...
27
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1answer
6k views

Why are many fruits sour?

Many fruits (like apples, berries, citrus fruits etc.) contain high levels of organic acids, especially malic acid and citric acid. Are there any evolutionary functions of those acids in ripe fruits? ...
26
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5answers
5k views

Examples of plant families that contain species that are safe for human consumption and species that are poisonous to humans?

I am trying to make a point to someone that just because two plants share a family and one plant is safe for human consumption, it does not follow that the other plant also is safe for human ...
23
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4answers
5k views

What is the name of this red plant?

I came across this plant yesterday (14th May) and was wondering what it might be? Would anybody know the scientific name and if it's indigenous to the UK (personally I doubt it is)? The plant grows in ...
21
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2answers
2k views

Is any known plant magnetic?

Is there a plant (not a microscopic type but one that is visible to the naked eye) that has so much iron (or magnetite), cobalt, or nickel in its body that it can attract a magnet? In this case "...
21
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1answer
783 views

What is the biological age of grafted plants?

Suppose you graft a piece of an existing 'old' plant onto a host plant. Will the graft continue to grow having the same biological age as its parent? In other words, would the graft die at the same ...
20
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5answers
5k views

What determines the spiral direction of plants?

Some plants and vines spiral clockwise as they go along (right direction) and some spiral anticlockwise (left direction). What determines which direction they spiral along? At first, I believed it to ...
20
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3answers
1k views

Can plants get cancer?

I can't think of any reason why plants wouldn't be able to get cancer, but I've never heard of a plant growing a tumor. I've also never seen a plant with a noticeable abnormal growth. Can plants get ...
20
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1answer
19k views

Why do plants fruit?

This is a two-part question: What is the point of fruit if not to be eaten? It’s my understanding that organisms will adapt to survive and thrive. I understand that being eaten can spread seeds, but ...
20
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1answer
1k views

What kind of fruit is this?

Just spotted this fruit while walking to school. It's the size of a small coin.The taste is almost sour and tangy and somewhat sweet (I only tried one of them and very little of it). I admit, I've ...
19
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3answers
253 views

Where can I find historical data on world-wide ecology parameters?

I hope this is the right StackExchange forum for such a question. I'm looking for large data sets on world-wide ecology parameters, such as annual temperatures by latitude, annual rainfall, CO₂ and O₂...
19
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2answers
14k views

How does a plant grow before photosynthesis is possible?

During photosynthesis, a plant translates CO2, water and light into O2. I assume the carbon C is further used for the growing process. I wonder how the plant grows before the time where photosynthesis ...
18
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1answer
3k views

What is the name of this fruit?

I have attached a photo. I know the Nepali name for this fruit but not its common name in English and its scientific names. In Nepal we call it as 'lahare Aanp' (meaning Climber Mango). This fruit is ...
18
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2answers
8k views

How will rising carbon dioxide levels in the troposphere affect photosynthetic producers?

Much discussion has been had about the affects of climate change on plantlife, but how will rising carbon dioxide concentrations affect the photosynthetic process itself? Since CO₂ is a reagent in ...
18
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2answers
2k views

How do plant galls form?

I am curious how Gall Wasps, bacteria and other organisms induce galls to form. Specifically, what chemicals induce gall formation?
18
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2answers
6k views

Why do pink rain lilies flower only after rains, and not from being watered?

We have pink rain lilies (Zephyranthes carinata) in the garden. In my personal experience, I've found that they always flower, without exception, shortly after rains. However, there are roughly ten ...
17
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4answers
11k views

How do trees lift water higher than 10 meters?

The atmosphere pressure is 10 meters of water (approx). This means that it is impossible to lift water higher than 10 meters with vacuum or сapillary action (on Earth, under normal conditions). There ...
17
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1answer
44k views

How can Valonia ventricosa cells get so big?

Valonia ventricosa are single-celled algae that range between one and few centimetres. In rare cases, they can reach sizes exceeding 5cm. They range from grass-green to dark green, and some are even a ...
17
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1answer
62k views

How to store vegetables in the refrigerator: In plastic bags or not?

My wife and I are having a debate similar to this one: I claim that it's better to take the fresh veggies out of the bags and put them in the crisper with humidity control because: That's what the ...
17
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3answers
3k views

Why do some trees have a life span, while some don't?

I have heard that there is no limit on the growth of trees, but then why do some trees, such as boxelders and poplars, tend to live shorter than redwoods, for example? Some advertisements for improved ...
16
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4answers
37k views

Why does the oxygen produced in the photosynthesis come from water and not carbon dioxide?

In the photosynthesis equation: $$\ce{6CO2 + 6H2O ->[sunlight] C6H12O6 + 6O2}$$ The only place where we have 6 molecules of $\ce{O2}$ is in $\ce{6CO2}$. Then it reacts with $\ce{6H2O}$ to form $\...
16
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2answers
480 views

Why was it so hard to decode the corn genome?

My teachers growing up told me it was impossible to decode the maize genome. But yet its been done. Why was decoding the genome so significant, and what made it so difficult?
16
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3answers
1k views

How deep in the soil can a seed be placed and still develop into a plant/tree?

The selected answer to How does a plant grow before photosynthesis is possible? indicates that a sprout grows beneath the soil using the food stored within the seed. Does this limited ready food ...
16
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1answer
897 views

Why are these trees leaning, but no trees around them are?

This was observed in Florida.The trees on the left have a distinct lean to them, but none of the other trees in the area are leaning, why is this? I'm not sure what other information is pertinent or ...
15
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1answer
15k views

Why can't a corn cob have 13 rows of seeds?

Every time before eating a corn, I count its lines. I would always find 12 or 14 rows of seeds, but never 13. Is there any biological/scientific reason behind this?
15
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2answers
16k views

Is this a grass cell?

I found this picture online claiming it was a grass cell. Clearly it is a cross section image but I was hoping you could tell me if this is actually grass, or something else if anything.
15
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3answers
11k views

Are there any motile plants?

There are numerous examples of sessile animals (sponges, barnacles etc.) but are there any examples of motile plants? If not, why not? Surely mobility would have conferred an evolutionary advantage to ...
15
votes
1answer
4k views

Where does moss come from?

I've been growing plants in pots for several years, and in some of my pots a patch of green moss appears and steadily grows to fill the whole surface area of the soil. But that doesn't happen in other ...
15
votes
1answer
6k views

Why are some berries poisonous?

In my understanding, the evolutional function of berries is to be eaten and pood out somewhere else, so that the seeds of the plant spread. Is this so? Then why are some berries poisonous?
15
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1answer
2k views

If plants “alternate generations” between sporophytes and gametophytes, why don't we say the same of humans?

I've been reading on Wikipedia about how plants alternate generations between a diploid sporophyte (usually the dominant part) and haploid gametophyte (in flowering plants, the pollen and ovule sacs). ...
15
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2answers
366 views

How to decide which is the correct scientific name for a particular species

To start with, I am not a person having sound knowledge in biology. When I started my search for phyto-chemicals in a particular family in the plant kingdom, I got confused. The scientific papers use ...
15
votes
3answers
690 views

Why do some fruits have a much wider range of acceptable sizes than others?

Some fruits such as pumpkins can grow to be 100 lbs. Under different conditions, the same variety of pumpkin can produce a 15 lb. fruit. Both plants are healthy, and look the same except for their ...