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RE: Plants
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100 million year-old mistake provides snapshot of evolution

Research by University of Leeds plant scientists has uncovered a snapshot of evolution in progress.
Studies have traced how a gene mutation over 100 million years ago led flowers to make male and female parts.
The findings - published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Online Early Edition - provide a perfect example of how diversity stems from such genetic 'mistakes'. The research also opens the door to further investigation into how plants make flowers - the origins of the seeds and fruits that we eat.

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A 45 million-year-old fossil flower found in northern Argentina has uncovered the evolutionary roots of Earths most populous plant family.
Called Asteraceae, the family includes dozens of domesticated species - from sunflowers, daisies and chrysanthemums to lettuce, artichoke and tarragon - and some 23,000 undomesticated plants. But despite its ubiquity, Asteraceaes fossil legacy is sparse, containing little more than pollen grains. A few larger, detailed fossils exist, but theyre relatively young.

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Anogramma ascensionis fern
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In a small, noisy laboratory, tucked away in London's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, a tiny plant is growing.
It looks just like a very small parsley bush, but it is actually a very special little plant indeed.
Clean air has to be constantly circulated in the lab to protect it from any bacteria.
This precious specimen is the Anogramma ascensionis fern, commonly known as the parsley fern. Since the 1950s, botanists believed it to be extinct.

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The smallest water lily in the world, which had vanished from its only known hot springs location in Africa, has been saved from extinction by experts at Kew Gardens in south-west London, it was revealed.
The tiny plant, whose lily pads can be as small as 1cm across, is known as the "thermal water lily" because it was discovered growing in the muddy edges of a freshwater hot spring.
The water lily was discovered in 1985 and was only known in one location in Mashyuza, Rwanda, from where it disappeared around two years ago as water feeding the spring was extracted for agriculture.

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It was the theft of a wild plant known in Britain as the spiked rampion that led to Rapunzel being locked in the tower. The plant even gave the heroine her name: on the Continent it is known as White Rapunzel.
But the spiked rampion (Phyteuma spicatum), an edible plant whose root resembles a gnarled turnip, is at risk of disappearing from Britain. It exists only in East Sussex, and according to experts there are fewer than 300 plants on about ten sites. In Abbots Wood, near Hailsham, there are about 200 plants, but otherwise there are tiny clusters in forest glades and on roadside verges.

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Flowering plants
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Yale study pushes back the origin of flowering plants by millions of years

Flowering plants may have appeared on earth tens of millions of years earlier than the fossil record indicates, suggests a new analysis by researchers at Yale University and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre, published the week of March 15 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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A rarely seen Buddhist flower, which blossoms every 3,000 years, has been discovered under a nun's washing machine
The Udumbara flower was found in the home of a Chinese nun in Lushan Mountain, Jiangxi province, China.
The rare Youtan Poluo or Udumbara flower, which, according to Buddhist legend, only blooms every 3,000 years, measures just 1mm in diameter.

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Devonian Plants
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Canadian scientists studying ancient rocks in Quebec and New Brunswick appear to have solved a central mystery about the Earth's history: why rivers began curving back and forth on their way to the sea about 400 million years ago.
Dalhousie University researchers Neil Davies and Martin Gibling found a clear correlation between the rise of deep, meandering rivers during the "Devonian" geological era and the origins of rooted plants, which evidently stabilised stream banks and ended the reign of the shallower, straighter waterways.

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Potatoes and tomatoes make good eating but they may also have a vicious side that makes them deadly killers on a par with venus fly traps and pitcher plants.
They have been identified as among a host of plants thought to have been overlooked by botanists and explorers searching the world's remotest regions for carnivorous species.
Researchers at Royal Botanical Gardens Kew now believe there are hundreds more plants that catch and eat insects and other small animals than they previously realised. Among them are species of petunia, ornamental tobacco plants, potatoes and tomatoes and shepherd's purse, a relative of cabbages.

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Sanjeevani
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Scientists trying to identify 'sanjivani' herb
The 'sanjivani' may not be just myth. Scientists are now busy trying to identify the magical herb, which according to the Indian epic Ramayana brought back to life Lord Ram's dying brother Lakshman.
Having found a few Himalayan herbs that match the description of the sanjivani, a team of five scientists at the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) are working to identifying the properties of each of them.

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