GRAPEVINE: Wild Tomatillo, Prairie Dropseed, Shoe Trees, Vegetable Towers, Flower Bridge, Blue Ice, Drunk Birds, Sheep Sorrel, Ash Fungus, Duet Beautyberry, Good GMO?

Food is medicine. The cancer-fighting properties of an ancient native food, the wild tomatillo (Physalis longifolia), are under investigation at the Native Medicinal Plant Research Program (NMPRP), here in Lawrence, KS. Dr. Kelly Kindscher, lead botanist for the Program, likens the taste of the wild tomatillo to “an effervescent, under-ripened strawberry, or, when dried, like a cross between a raisin and dried cranberry.” Click photo to link to the NMPRP site.

Researchers Hope Prairie’s Wild Tomatillo May Provide Medical Breakthrough 
in Cancer Fight
“We’ve found compounds from the wild tomatillo that have strong anti-cancer properties against breast cancer, skin cancer, thyroid cancer and brain cancer in our early studies,” said Mark Cohen, cancer physician and research scientist who has been working with the plant for more than two years.     Wichita Eagle

Prairie Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis
Prairie dropseed is a fine-textured, distinctive bunchgrass with leaves that curve gracefully outward forming large, round tufts. Delicate seedheads appear above the tuft in midsummer, rising 2 ft. high. Fall color is tan-bronze. Prairie dropseed is a perennial. Snow does not flatten the plant, so it is visible even in winter.    NPIN

The Shoe-Trees of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts
In several remote areas of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts a curious custom has developed. Isolated roadside trees will become festooned with shoes and other objects, placed in them by young people from the nearest local communities, and occasionally by travelers.    J.L. Hudson, Seedsman

Towers of Vegetables Go Up As Singapore Builds First Vertical Farm
Short on arable land? One solution would be to plant…up. Singapore, a small country that imports most of its food, has now begun selling vegetables from its first vertical farm. And even while they’re more expensive the vegetables are already selling faster than they can be grown.     Singularity Hub

The Bridge of Flowers
Antoinette Burnham had the vision to take a community problem of a discontinued trolley bridge and turn it into a beautiful Bridge of Flowers. In April 1929, 80 loads of loam and several loads of fertilizer were put on the bridge.     Bridge of Flowers

Fantastic Native Cultivar: Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’
The horticultural world is still rightfully swooning over its feathery cousin, Arkansas Amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii), recent winner of the Perennial Plant of the Year. I will make the claim, however, that Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ may be the more versatile and durable plant.     Grounded Design

Birds Can Get Deadly Drunk on Fermented Berries
Last summer, British veterinary officials were called to a primary school in Cumbria, England, to solve the mystery of a dozen young blackbirds that were found dead, many with clear physical injuries. …But at the scene, the researchers recovered a live bird that was acting strangely.     LiveScience

Sheep Sorrel; What’s up, dock?
Children love sheep sorrel. Somehow, thousands of children across the country have learned to eat sheep sorrel without being instructed by any adult. And once they learn, they pass it on to each other. It spreads like wildfire.    WildFoods

Ash Dieback: Government Faces Possible Legal Action
A nursery forced to destroy 50,000 ash trees after a fungal disease was found is considering taking legal action against the government for failing to block imports sooner. …In the last six weeks, 100,000 ash trees have been destroyed and experts say it may be too late to stop the spread of the fungus.      BBC News

“Duet” Beautyberry
A sport of the white-berried Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Albifructus’ with stable, cream-colored variegation at the leaf margins, “Duet” grows as an arching shrub to six feet with an equal spread. Released jointly by the U.S. National Arboretum and Tennessee Technological University in 2006. Recommended for Zones 5-8.     HortScience

Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Decrease Plaque Build-Up in Mice
For the first time, genetically engineered tomato plants produced a peptide that mimics the actions of good cholesterol when eaten, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.     Science Daily

Hang in there, buddy! This tentative pine tree looks like a gymnast doing the splits on two chairs. Such is the tale of the inexorable process of erosion. Photo: Rainyleaf, Kalaloch Beach, WA. Click image to link to the Rainyleaf blog.

“It seemed to my friend that the creation of a landscape-garden offered to the proper muse the most magnificent of opportunities. Here indeed was the fairest field for the display of the imagination, in the endless combining of forms of novel beauty.” – Edgar Allen Poe

Here’s a rare sight. Not only are we looking at a picture of the Sun (!), we are seeing three simultaneous Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) on the Sun’s western limb, 11/3/12. A CME is is a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields rising above the solar corona or being released into space. Click image to link to The Watchers.

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.” – Chinese proverb

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