Fun Plant Facts …

* The Guinness World Record for the heaviest pumpkin was set in 2016 by Mathias Willemijns from Belgium. Authenticated in Germany, his pumpkin weighed in at 1,190.49kg or 2,624.6lbs.

* Hawthorn flowers have a strong, complex scent, but the most distinct element is triethylamine. This is also one of the first chemicals produced by a dead human body when it starts to decay.

* Snowdrops contain a natural anti-freeze. Even if they collapse in freezing weather they recover once the temperature rises.

* Two thousand roses are needed to extract one gram of rose oil.

* Sunflowers display a behaviour called heliotropism. The young flowers face east in the morning and follow the sun as the earth rotates during the day. However, as the seeds develop and the flowers get heavier, the stems stiffen so that the mature flower heads tend to facing east.

* In 1982 Rockcress (Arabidopsis) was the first plant to flower and produce seeds in space (on the Soviet Salyut 7 space station).

* Lettuce, especially Romaine lettuce, contain a phytonutrient called lactucarium that helps promote sleep by sedating the nervous system.

* Jerusalem artichokes contain a sweet tasting soluble fibre called Inulin which passes through the human digestive system intact until bacteria go to work on it in colon, releasing a lot of gas in the process.

* Strawberries are the only fruit that bear its seeds on the outside.

* It is possible to ‘taste’ Garlic with your feet. Experiments have shown that if a clove of garlic is rubbed on the underside of your feet, then sealed in plastic bags to isolate the smell, after about an hour has elapsed you will be able to taste garlic in your mouth. This is because the chemical Allicin in garlic can penetrate skin and travel around the body.

* Pineapples are the only edible members of the bromeliad family.

* The smell of freshly mown grass has been identified as the plant’s way of signalling distress. The grass “communicates” an attack, by the blades of a mower or jaws of an insect, by producing defensive proteins and secondary metabolites to repel the pest or make itself less appetizing.

* Tulips can continue to grow as much as an inch per day after being cut.

* Caffeine serves the function of a pesticide in a coffee plant.

* Carrots originally came in a range of colours, including purple, white and yellow. It was Dutch growers, in the 17th Century, who cultivated orange carrots, probably by gradual selection from the yellow population, as a tribute to William of Orange. Now we have come full circle as ‘Rainbow’ seed selections have become popular.

* The average tree is made up of 99% dead cells. The only living parts are the leaves, root tips and phloem (a thin tissue layer under the bark that acts as a food delivery system).

* Figs are not always considered vegan. When pollinated by a fig-wasp, the fig’s inward facing flowers trap the wasp, and the corpse is digested by enzymes in the fig.

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