Science in the Garden

March 28, 2011

Did you know:

  • Ferns can soak up poisons such as arsenic from the soil. Absorbed through their roots, arsenic is stored in fern leaves which can be cut off. Arsenic, once used to treat wood can still lurk in old roofs, decks, and playgrounds. (Purdue University, 2010, June 14)
  • Some common flowers have not-so-sweet or toxic nectars. Researchers found that both the sugar content and the toxins in nectar affected a honeybee’s memory for learned odours. Honeybees learned not to respond to odors associated with toxins within 20 minutes of eating toxins, and would retain this ability up to 24 hours after eating a toxin. This suggests that honeybees can react to toxins in nectar, but that this ability may mainly be after they have ingested the toxins. (Society for Experimental Biology, 2007, April 10).
  • A study lead by Dr Rebecca Dolan, director of the Friesner Herbarium, Butler University, found that over the past 70 years, Indianapolis’s native plants have been lost at a rate of 2.4 species per year, while over the same period 1.4 non-natives arrive each year. According to Dolan: “This study shows that our flora is becoming less distinctive.The team examined 2,800 dried plants collected around Indianapolis before 1940 and compared these with plants found at 16 field sites between 1996 and 2006. Although the city supports a similar number of plant species (around 700) today’s flora has fewer native plants and more non-native species, which have been introduced from other parts of the world and are now spreading on their own.” (Rebecca W. Dolan, Marcia E. Moore, Jessica D. Stephens. Documenting effects of urbanization on flora using herbarium records. Journal of Ecology, 2011)
  • In addition to polishing silverware, leather shoes, and houseplant leaves, minced banana peels perform better than other purifications materials. (American Chemical Society, 2011, March 10)

A little heath tip:

A daily dose of safflower oil for 16 weeks can improve health measures as good cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and inflammation in obese postmenopausal women who have Type 2 diabetes. This is based on an 18-month study after researchers learned that safflower oil reduces abdominal fat and increases muscle tissue in a group of women after 16 weeks of daily supplementation. Researchers suggest that a daily dose of safflower oil in the diet (about 1 2/3 teaspoons) is a safe way to help reduce cardiovascular disease risk. (Reprinted by Ohio State University, 2011, March 21. Original article written by Emily Caldwell.).



  1. Very interesting information. The complexity of the garden and nature never fails to amaze me. bernadine


  2. I love that kind of info, ya know, the kind of stuff they will ask on Jeopardy and I will randomly know 🙂 thank you!


    • You’re welcome! I hope to post garden/nature-related research each month. So be ready to go on Jeopardy!


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