Plants

Royal kombu (aka sugar kelp) harvested from the Netherlands’ first organic seaweed farm enriches and flavors the Dutch Weed Burger’s soy-chip-based patty.

Innovation for Good

Is Seaweed the Next Big Alternative to Meat?

From kelp burgers to bacon of the sea, sustainable food entrepreneurs are innovating to charm hungry omnivores

A cat chews up and rolls around in the leaves of the silver vine plant.

When Cats Chew Catnip, It Works as a Bug Spray

Plant leaves that repel mosquitoes release a more effective repellant after being crushed up by felines

The seagrass Posidonia australis.

World’s Largest Plant Is a Seagrass That Clones Itself

The 4,500-year-old plant lives off the coast of Australia

The plants in lunar soil were compared to a control group of plants grown in volcanic ash and a lunar soil simulant known as JSC-1A. The lunar samples on the right do not appear as developed as the control samples grown in volcanic ash on the left.

Innovation for Good

Scientists Prove That Plants Can Grow in Soil From the Moon

The experiment is a milestone in the path to helping humans one day experience extended stays on the lunar surface

Some seagrasses are linked to lower levels of gastroenteritis-causing pathogens in the water. 

Seagrass Can Work as a Sanitation Service

Millions of cases of potentially deadly gastroenteritis are prevented each year because of the pathogen-reducing powers of the plant

Cycads growing in Litchfield National Park in Australia.

Many of These Plants Older Than Dinosaurs Face Extinction

Cycads have changed a great deal since they first appeared around 280 million years ago, and habitat loss and illegal trade are now threats

A protester holds a sunflower during a London rally in support of Ukraine on March 26, 2022.

Why Sunflowers Are Ukraine's National Flower

People around the world are embracing the bright bloom as a symbol of solidarity with the beleaguered country

New research shows that mass migration of ancient peoples from the south were essential to bringing maize cultivation to Maya communities in Central America. Scientists previously thought knowledge of farming techniques were shared by word of mouth between neighboring communities. 

New Research

New Study Finds Migrants Brought Maize to the Maya

DNA analysis of skeletal remains in Belize helps piece together how corn cultivation came to thrive in Central America

The Venus flytrap Dionaea muscipula is the most sophisticated of the carnivorous plants. Its traps snap shut in a fraction of a second, imprisoning prey in a cage of teeth that line the edges of the trap.

How Carnivorous Plants Evolved

Botanists are beginning to trace the origins of their gruesome appetites

Antarctic pearlwort (pictured) , grew and spread five times faster between 2009 and 2018 than growth rates observed between 1960 and 2009

 

Warming Temperatures Are Turning Antarctica Green

Native flowering plant species grew faster and more densely in the last decade than in the previous 50 years combined

Lichens produce oxygen, trap moisture, and serve as food and shelter to other organisms.

Lichens Are in an Evolutionary Race Against Climate Change

The symbiotic organisms could need more than a million years to adapt to just 1 degree Celsius of warming, a new study suggests

Italian truffles, known for a robust earthy and slightly garlicky taste, are a delicacy, and guests at the Casa di Langa in Piedmont, Italy, can hunt for their own.

Want to Forage for Your Own Food? Join the Pros at These Five Spots

The pandemic has caused a surge in interest in wild foods, and resorts worldwide have taken notice, creating tasty excursions for guests to indulge in

Reserachers descend into a Yucatan sinkhole to examine sacred Maya cacao groves. 

Researchers Now Know Where the Ancient Maya Planted Their Sacred Cacao Groves

Sinkholes across the Yucatan Peninsula provided perfect growing conditions for the plant, used as currency in the Mesoamerican civilization

People visit the Red Beach, so named due to the Suaeda heteroptera plant which grows across the marshland landscape, in Panjin, China's northeastern Liaoning province.

Moonbows, Starling Migrations and Other Rare Natural Phenomena Worth Traveling For

Being in the right place at the right time makes for an awe-inspiring trip

Grown in central Uganda, kayinja bananas are used to make juices and beers.

Ten of the World's Rarest Foods, and Where to Find Them

Journalist Dan Saladino's new book is a plea to save the planet's most endangered crops and culinary traditions

Some chemical compounds used in sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, are facing scrutiny from legislators and environmental advocates. Scientists are looking to the ultraviolet light-blocking compounds produced by marine organisms as potential replacements.

Designing a More Environmentally Friendly Sunscreen

Scientists are sourcing new ultraviolet ray-blocking compounds from algae, seaweed, cyanobacteria and other marine creatures

Mammal and bird losses cut a plant’s ability to adapt to global climate change by 60 percent. Pictured: Cedar waxwing

With Fewer Animals to Move Their Seeds, Plants Are Stuck in Threatened Habitats

For many types of vegetation, the only way to migrate to a more favorable range is through the guts of mammals and birds

Researchers counted fewer than 50 individual plants, which all grow in an unprotected area of the forest.

The First Newly Identified Plant Species of 2022 Was Named After Leonardo DiCaprio

Scientists credit the actor with helping save the Ebo Forest—the plant's home–from logging

Smithsonian's most-read stories of 2021 included an explainer on crocodile evolution, a profile of a teen inventor and a feature on Viking explorer Gudrid the Far Traveler.

Our Top Ten Stories of 2021

From archaeological finds to an invasive weed to Roman bathrooms, these were our most-read articles of the year

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Five Places in the United States to See Carnivorous Plants in the Wild

These flesh-eating plants can be found in savage gardens from Oregon to Texas

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