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Fern sex

Ferns are amazing plants in their beauty alone. They’re even more amazing when you begin to understand how ferns propagate. They have no flowers to entice pollinating insects so … how does a fern have sex?

fern fronts as they open in spring

fern fronds as they open in spring

Gardeners who know and love ferns realize that spores – the brown structures that arise on the undersides of mature fern fronds – are a fern’s reproductive cells. Once mature, these cells leave their parent fern to venture out and multiply. What’s fascinating is how the spores leave the parent plant.

As described in a December 31, 2014 article in the Wonderful Things series in Scientific American, ferns use a technique called cavitation catapult to disperse spores.

The article provides drawings and a video diagram explaining how this process works. But here’s the best part for plant geeks … a video showing actual fern spores being launched by the cavitation catapult process.

This kind of stuff happens in gardens all the time, right under our noses as we merrily tend our plants. Gardening is not only one of the best ways to connect with nature, it’s a constant learning experience for those with curious minds and … it’s sexy.
But don’t just watch the video … follow the article link to better understand the whole process. Aren’t we all lucky to have scientists who take the time to question and learn about fern sex, and science writers such as Jennifer Frazer to explain it in a way average Jane and Joe gardeners can easily understand?
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Electricity-generating Wetlands? Think of the possibilities!

Every once in a while a story tweaks the old imagination juices. The latest is the November 23, 2012 article seen in ScienceDaily, Electricity from the Marshes, about a fuel cell that extracts electricity from wetland soils.

Researchers have developed a way to harness the electrons released when bacteria break down the organic residue plants produce during photosynthesis. An electrode absorbs these electrons to generate electricity. Currently, the Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell can generate 0.4Watts per square meter (about 10.76 square feet) of wetland plants.

Just think about this for a moment.

Once developed, the researchers suggest a rooftop planting measuring 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) could generate enough electricity to supply a household consuming 2,800 kWh/year.

Read the article yourself and the information about this patented idea at the Plant-e website … it might be enough to tweak your imagination , as it did mine.

pond edgeWill we be creating backyard ponds – perhaps a pond for every house – to charge our electronic devices?

Will marshlands become the electricity generating regions for shoreline communities?

Will flat urban rooftops contain gardens not just to save energy through reduced heat absorption, but to create energy?

Granted, the technology is still in development. More will be learned from the first roof installation of an electricity-generating marsh at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

This research will be interesting to follow.

Plants as electricity producers … just think of the possibilities.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry