Grapevine: Todmorden, Moss, Flower Solar, Smart Plants, Luffa, Big Bugs, Slow Food

Louis Copt, "Barn in Red and Gray" 2008

– Todmorden: A town where greenthumbs, not sticky fingers, prevail
Here in the United States of Immaculately Manicured Lawns, it can be hard enough as is to grow a small, neatly kept patch of veggies in your front yard without provoking the ire of your neighbors, the local HOA, and/or city officials. So can you imagine an entire town of more than 10,000 people where edible landscaping is the norm? A town where wandering into your neighbor’s yard without permission to grab a couple sprigs of fresh mint, a head of lettuce, and a few tomatoes is totally kosher?    Mother Nature Network

– Moss Has Cloned Itself for 50,000 Years, Study Says
A moss spreading throughout the Hawaiian Islands appears to be an ancient clone that has copied itself for some 50,000 years—and may be one of the oldest multicellular organisms on Earth, a new study suggests. The peat moss Sphagnum palustre is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, but the moss living in Hawaii appears to reproduce only through cloning, without the need for sex or production of spores.    National Geographic

– New Sunflower-Inspired Pattern Increases Concentrated Solar Efficiency
The sunflower inspired new solar technology. Researchers found that by rearranging mirrors, or heliostats, in a pattern similar to the spirals on the face of a sunflower, they could reduce the pattern’s “footprint” by 20 percent and increase its potential energy generation.    Science Daily

– TED Talk: Stefano Mancuso: The roots of plant intelligence
Plants behave in some oddly intelligent ways: fighting predators, maximizing food opportunities … But can we think of them as actually having a form of intelligence of their own? Italian botanist Stefano Mancuso presents intriguing evidence.    TED

– Luffa: Wring in the New Year
We all know that sponges are animals that live and grow beneath the sea. But you don’t need to live by the sea to harvest a sponge (using the term sponge in the sense of tool and not an organism). You can grow your own, and use it for bathing and dishwashing. Plant sponges have many common names such as the luffa squash (pronounced loo’-fah) or sponge gourd or climbing okra.  Botanically, it’s a tropical vine species: Luffa aegyptiaca Mill.— also known as Luffa cylindrica.    Human Flower Project

– 10 of the largest insects in the world
The largest insects that ever lived were dragonfly-like bugs of the order Protodonata, sometimes referred to as griffinflies. They had wingspans of nearly two and a half feet across and huge dentate mandibles, making them formidable predators. Thankfully, they went extinct a long time ago at the end of the Paleozoic Era. Although insects can’t grow quite that large in today’s world, there are a few that are nevertheless large enough to give even seasoned entomologists a good fright.    MNN

– Cheap Drama at Slow Food
Slow Food USA, the nonprofit organization that has championed sustainable and organic foods since 2000, is in trouble. Many of its longtime core supporters have defected. Its most prominent members—famous cookbook authors, chefs, and leaders in the food movement—are embroiled in a bitter squabble stoked by angry emails, hurt feelings, accusations. According to one report, Alice Waters broke down in tears.    Chow    (Related article in Grist magazine)


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