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Questions tagged [botany]

The study of plants and plant life.

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208 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
J.G.'s user avatar
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124 votes
4 answers
7k 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 ...
Rory M's user avatar
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111 votes
9 answers
24k 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 ...
Joe Clarke's user avatar
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84 votes
2 answers
8k views

What's up with this leaf?

This cool design was "tattooed" on this leaf. I found it on the windshield of my car. What's up with it?
Jossie Calderon's user avatar
65 votes
1 answer
7k 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 ...
Mark's user avatar
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50 votes
2 answers
10k views

Why does cutting onions cause tears?​

Why does cutting onions cause tears?​ From 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 ...
superbug's user avatar
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47 votes
3 answers
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 ...
user avatar
46 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
SolarLunix's user avatar
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43 votes
4 answers
25k 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 ...
jabal's user avatar
  • 533
42 votes
4 answers
12k 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 ...
rhill45's user avatar
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38 votes
1 answer
32k 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, ...
imwenyz's user avatar
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37 votes
3 answers
14k 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 ...
Elliot Bonneville's user avatar
35 votes
7 answers
16k views

If plants benefit from carbon dioxide, why is car traffic something bad?

This is going to sound really stupid or as a joke, but... Ever since I was a little kid, I have been confused about the following: Humans need air/oxygen to breathe in order to live. Plants/trees/...
Karlin's user avatar
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35 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
sampathsris's user avatar
34 votes
2 answers
4k views

Can any animals photosynthesize?

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 ...
Steven Roose's user avatar
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34 votes
1 answer
10k 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? ...
Marta Cz-C's user avatar
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33 votes
4 answers
8k 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 ...
Amu's user avatar
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33 votes
1 answer
12k 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 ...
Hector's user avatar
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32 votes
1 answer
7k views

Are these microscopic star-like structures on a dead leaf some sort of organism? If so, which one?

I’m wondering what these star-shaped organisms are on a dead leaf I found in my backyard (Texas, USA). This was taken under my microscope at 40x magnification. They seem to be clear organisms with ...
Obama2020's user avatar
  • 423
32 votes
4 answers
6k 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?...
Anixx's user avatar
  • 3,016
31 votes
3 answers
11k 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 ...
Lenkan's user avatar
  • 313
29 votes
1 answer
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 ...
Shep's user avatar
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28 votes
3 answers
9k 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-seeded ...
paracetamol's user avatar
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26 votes
5 answers
6k 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 ...
Im_no_botanist's user avatar
24 votes
3 answers
6k 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 ...
Johnny's user avatar
  • 1,509
24 votes
6 answers
10k 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 ...
QCD_IS_GOOD's user avatar
21 votes
1 answer
23k 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 ...
Srb1313711's user avatar
21 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
AliceD's user avatar
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20 votes
2 answers
39k 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.
HBeel's user avatar
  • 419
20 votes
2 answers
9k 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 ...
Poshpaws's user avatar
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20 votes
2 answers
3k 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 "...
user avatar
20 votes
2 answers
16k 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 ...
Nikolaj-K's user avatar
  • 595
20 votes
3 answers
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 ...
Orcris's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
279 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...
Tobia's user avatar
  • 293
19 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
darksky's user avatar
  • 293
19 votes
2 answers
14k 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 ...
Fiksdal's user avatar
  • 169
18 votes
1 answer
6k 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 ...
ramro's user avatar
  • 181
18 votes
2 answers
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?
Dale's user avatar
  • 1,713
18 votes
4 answers
17k 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 ...
Suzan Cioc's user avatar
18 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
J. Musser's user avatar
  • 3,737
17 votes
2 answers
583 views

How to decipher references in natural history works of the late Renaissance and early Modernity?

Old botany books from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries (and maybe also some later ones) enumerating lists of species used to give references to their sources as abbreviations consisting of one or few ...
botaflo's user avatar
  • 358
17 votes
2 answers
3k views

Are two colors (red + blue) necessary for LED grow lights, or would either color be sufficient?

Below are some chlorophyll absorption spectra from other answers here. There is strong absorption at both the blue/violet end, and the red end of the spectrum, and presumably both of these contribute ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 5,588
17 votes
1 answer
71k 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 ...
Eternal Learner's user avatar
16 votes
4 answers
44k 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 $\...
Yuran Pereira's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
561 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?
Gabriel Fair's user avatar
  • 4,529
16 votes
1 answer
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 ...
user1306322's user avatar
  • 1,567
16 votes
1 answer
3k views

This looks like it was somebody’s home - but who?

Found this near the edge of a forest in upstate New York. It looks like the remnant of a cocoon of some kind. I would appreciate any help in identifying its original maker / occupant. I hope my ...
Floris's user avatar
  • 490
16 votes
1 answer
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). ...
Max's user avatar
  • 285
16 votes
3 answers
2k 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 ...
Everyone's user avatar
  • 3,863
16 votes
1 answer
63k 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 ...
James's user avatar
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