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Issue No: 1266



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Today I was in a shoe store that sells only shoes, nothing else. A young girl with a tattoo and green hair walked over to me and asked, “What brings you in today?

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First Story of the Week

TIDBITS® APPRECIATES

FLOWERS

Come along with Tidbits as we appreciate flowers!

FIRST FLOWERS

  • The first flower known to have appeared on Earth is called Montsechia vidalii. It lived submerged in the shallow waters of Europe’s lakes. Its fossils, found in Spain, have been dated to 130-125 million years ago. Another early flower is called Archaefructus sinensis, whose fossils, found in northeastern China, dated it to 125 million years ago. It resembled the modern water lily. Prior to the evolution of flowering plants, ferns and coniferous trees ruled the plant world.
  • A previously extinct Arctic flower called the narrow-leafed campion was resurrected using seeds found in Siberia which had been buried by an ice-age squirrel. The seeds were dated at 32,000 years old and sprouted anyway.
  • When Charles Darwin was studying a Madagascar orchid whose flower had a foot-long nectar-filled tube, he hypothesized that there was probably a moth in the vicinity which had a proboscis of the same length in order for the plant to be pollinated. It was an unprecedented guess, as no such moth was known at the time. Not until 21 years after his death was the moth species finally discovered.
  • Sunflowers are native to North America and have been cultivated since about 3000 BCE. The sunflower belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae) which has over 20,000 species. It is the biggest family of flowering plants.
  • There are about 70 different species, some of which are dwarf. Sunflowers can even be grown as bonsai plants. A sunflower is actually a cluster of hundreds of flowers.
  • The world’s tallest sunflower was grown in 2014 and reached the height of 30 feet, 1 inch. The widest actual flower measured 3 feet across, grown in 1986. The most number of flowers on an individual stalk was 837 on a plant grown in Michigan in 2001.
  • Every part of the sunflower plant is edible, though not necessarily tasty.
  • Besides yellow, they can also be found in red and purple varieties.
  • South Dakota grows more sunflowers than any other state, followed by North Dakota.
  • Each flower head can contain up to 2,000 seeds.
  • There are two kinds of sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil which is used in cooking and in margarines is made from black seeds, and snack food is made from the striped seeds.
  • Sunflowers can be used to extract toxins such as lead, arsenic, and uranium from contaminated soil. Sunflowers were used to remove toxins from a pond after the Chernobyl disaster and similar projects took place after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
  • The spiderwort flower is a natural radiation detector. The stamen turns pink in the presence of radiation. When planted around Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, they accurately detected how much radiation was released and showed how the wind dispersed radioactive material.
  • Broccoli is actually a flower. Broccoli is harvested before the flower buds fully open and eaten as a vegetable. If left to bloom, the flowers are tiny, yellow, and densely packed. The word “broccoli” comes from the Italian words meaning “flowering cabbage.”
  • Cauliflower will also bloom similarly. The word “cauliflower” derives from the Latin words “caulis” meaning cabbage and “flōs” meaning flower.
  • Artichokes are large flower buds, cut before they bloom. They are a type of thistle. Their name comes from the Arabic phrase meaning “arched stump” regarding their shape. If allowed to flower, blossoms measure up to seven inches wide and are purple. California produces 100% of the U.S. artichoke crop, with Castroville, California calling itself the “Artichoke Center of the World.” Marilyn Monroe was named Castroville, California’s first Artichoke Queen in 1947.
  • The color of the hydrangea is determined by the acidity of the soil it’s planted in. If the soil is alkaline, it will result in pink blooms; if it’s too acidic, the flowers will be blue. Its name comes from Greek “hydro” meaning “water” and “angeion” meaning “vessel” from the cup-like shape of its seed capsule.
  • The world’s oldest living rose bush is thought to be around 1,000 years old. It blooms on the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. Its presence was first documented in 815 A.D. In 1945 allied bombers destroyed the cathedral, yet the bush survived. Its roots remained intact beneath the debris, and soon the bush was growing strong again when the castle was rebuilt.
  • The world’s largest rose covers 8,500 square feet. The trunk has a circumference of around 12 feet. It was planted in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1885.
  • On November 20, 1986, President Ronald Reagan officially made the rose the national flower emblem of the United States. He even did this while standing in the famous White House Rose Garden.
  • Water-meal, a type of duckweed, yields the smallest flower in the world. The Latin name is Wolffia globosa and it’s found all over the planet, floating on calm swampy water. The plant itself is about the size of a grain of rice and the flower weighs about as much as two grains of salt. A bouquet of the flowers would fit on the head of a pin.
  • The slowest-flowering plant is the rare species of giant bromeliad called Puya raimondii, discovered at a height of 12,992 ft in the Bolivian mountains in 1870. The flower cluster emerges after about 80 to 150 years of the plant’s life. It produces a huge stalk bearing hundreds of blooms. Once it has blossomed, the plant dies.
  • In ancient Rome, a scientist was struck by a flower’s resemblance to the swords gladiators used in battle. He named the bloom “gladiolus” after the Latin word for sword, “gladius.”
  • The daisy got its name because the yellow center resembled the sun. It was commonly known as the “day’s eye” and over time, was eventually called daisy.
  • The chrysanthemum was named after the Greek words for “gold flower.”
  • Some plants such as orchids do not need soil to grow because they get all of their nutrients from the air or from water that drips down from other plants.
  • Lotuses are popular hang-outs for beetles because the flowers stay at a constant 86° to 95°F even during cold nights. Beetles trapped when the petals on these bowl-shaped blooms close up for the night spend the night mating and feeding.