Little Bits of Trivia
Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed Plants
The growing larvae (caterpillars) eat milkweed leaves. These leaves contain toxins- poisonous chemicals. These toxins don’t hurt the caterpillar, but they do make the caterpillar poisonous to most predators. Because it eats milkweed leaves as a caterpillar, the monarch butterfly is also poisonous. The survival of the monarch butterfly depends on this self-defense system provided by the milkweed.
Sap from milkweed was used by pioneers as a cure for warts
The airborne fluffy parachute of the seed was used by Native Americans to insulate moccasins.
The dried empty seed pods were used as Christmas tree decorations by early pioneers.
The boys and girls from Wisconsin schools collected 283,000 bags of milkweed fluff for use in military life jackets during World War II.
It is used as an indicator of ground-level ozone air pollution.
Woodpeckers are voracious ant eaters. You may see them also pick up ants in their beaks and crush them on their feathers. What are they doing this for? Crushing the ants bodies releases tannic acid which in turn protects the bird from parasites!
Hummingbirds, those wonderful creatures, favor brilliant red and orange flowers the most. Following are some of their favorite flowers:
- Perennials: Coral Bells (heuchera), Indian paintbrush, columbine, hollyhock, jewelweed, bee Balm (monarda), phlox, daylilies, cardinal flower, lupines, penstemons, butterfly weed- which is very pretty and attracts butterflies too like it's name.
- Annuals: 4 O'clocks, cleome, petunias, impatiens, scarlet runner bean, red salvia, verbena, zinnias, lantana
- Shrubs and Vines: Butterfly bushes, creeping trumpet vine, rose-of-sharon, flowering quince, trumpet honeysuckle
Did you know that the flowers bees love usually close at night? The reason is bees only fly during the daytime. Bees are attracted to flowers that are bright in color and have strong fragrance.
Bees are responsible for the existence of many flowers. without bees over 100.000 plant species would cease to exist!
Bees, feeling the rise in humidity, will usually go back in their hive to avoid a coming rainfall.
The largest rose in the world resides in Tombstone, Arizona. Rosa Bankiae planted in 1855 at the Rose Tree Inn now covers over 8,000 square feet on a massive trellis. If you are ever in Tombstone this would be worth seeing.
The most expensive flowers: a hyacinth bulb from a variety called " king of Great Britain" sold in 1774 for L100. This equates to over 200,000 dollars in today's economy!
A scarlet and white tipped tulip (Semper augustus) sold for the amount of 5,500 florins. This would give it a current value of 70,000 dollars today!
The oldest living tree is the bristlecone pine (pinus aristata). The oldest one found is 4,900 years old. What an amazing specimen to have survived through so many eras! It resides in the Wheeler Peak area of Nevada.
The gingko tree dates back to the Mesozoic era. The same tree today closely resembles its' ancestor and is also known as the "maidenhair" tree. Possibly one of the first fruit trees the ginko produces an edible fruit that is similar to a persimmon.
The fastest growing tree in the world is the acacia. Certain varieties can grow as much as 2 1/2 feet a month, which translates into a little over an inch a day! Fast and furious the acacia does not live much longer than 30 years.
Ever wonder where that cork in the wine bottle comes from?
It comes from the cork oak which is the only tree that can survive "bark harvesting" as it has two layers of bark.
NEW TOMATO WORLD RECORD
There is a new champ for the biggest tomato ever grown beating Gordon Graham’s 7-pound 12-ounce whopper grown back in 1986. As of August 22, 2014 Dan MacCoy of Ely, Minnesota weighed an 8.41 pound tomato grown on a Big Zac offshoot and a tomato plant less than 3 feet tall. While it's not pretty there's no denying it's a whopper of a tomato! All of the world records for giant tomatoes have been won by tomatoes with fused blossoms. For world record purposes the skin of the various parts of the tomato must be consistent and continuous. How many lobes there are does not matter; only that they be connected via the skin. Congratulations Dan.
Did you know?
Slugs are hermaphrodites: they all have male and female reproductive systems. Yes, they can mate with themselves!!! They can stretch to 20 times their normal length enabling them to squeeze through openings to get at food.
Cinch bugs overwinter by producing an antifreeze chemical that protects their innards from becoming frozen. A plant that everyone detests was found in an area where several feet of rock and plastic sheeting were removed. This area had been untouched for at least 20 years. At the bottom was pure white bindweed, quite alive!
Tall grass: The giant bamboo originating from Asia can reach heights of 50 feet! It is a true grass.
Earth Worms: Have the power to move stones that weigh 50 times their own weight. They also ingest soil and organic matter equal to the amount of their body weight each day.