Eight of Earth’s Most Unusual Plants

Rafflesia arnoldii: this parasitic plant develops the world's largest bloom

Rafflesia arnoldii: this parasitic plant develops the world’s largest bloom that can grow over 0ne metre across. It produces a foul odor and has a hole in the center that holds six or seven litres of water. The plant has no leaves, stems, or roots.

Website: Unusual Plants@Wikipedia

Bunya Pine Tree

Bunya Pine Tree
Photo: Hugh Robertson

The prehistoric (Mesozoic 251 to 65 million years ago) Banya Pine – Araucaria bidwillii – can grow to over 45m (almost 150′) and around March they drop these huge Pine Cones… I mean really Huge, they are about the size of a person’s head (and probably have a higher IQ than some bushes). If you brake them apart you end up with about 50 or more very large pine nuts that when roasted and eaten have a very similar consistency and taste to chestnuts; only with a slight pine taste.

For the Australian aborigines they were an important and favoured seasonal food source, individual trees were protected, managed and they were often regarded the ‘property’ of individual families. I have two of these trees not 70 meters from my place and I often collect a few of the cones, extract the nuts, and roast them under my grille; the trick is to split the husk to prevent them from exploding.

These trees definitely look like prehistoric conifers, even if they weren’t, with their bizarre branches, leaves and bark you’d swear there were dinosaurs lurking near by… though I’m more nervous about one of the cones striking me from above since they must weigh close to 10 kilograms (20lbs).

Website: Bunya Feast

Aloe Recursion

Aloe Recursion
Photo: Stumble

What an outstanding looking plant.

Backyard Aeroponics: Self Sustaining Farm for Wisconsin cold

Video: Faircompanies.com

Benjamin Staffeldt grew up on a farm and works in a garden center so when he and his wife Sara moved into a rental home (a duplex), it was only natural he’d want to start farming his (shared) backyard. They began with containers and then bought a kit greenhouse to extend the growing season and were selling to local supermarkets and restaurants, but the heating bills to farm during Wisconsin winters (with temperatures as low as -70°F) was cutting sharply into their profits.

They knew they had to maximize greenhouse space so they decided to grow vertical and to grow differently. They experimented with hydroponics and finally settled on aeroponics. “So aeroponics is similar to hydroponics using water rather than soil, but it’s mist,” explains Benjamin. “It’s a mist that comes on inside the growing chamber, and it comes on every 3 minutes for 10 seconds, it’s a really high oxygen water that’s hitting that root. The method was actually developed and is being used by NASA because it uses so much less water and the speed of growth is much faster.”

To fully customize the growing experience, they added a thermal wrap to their aeroponics towers which helps refract light to help keep the temperature stable within the grow chambers. They’re now growing enough in their 10′ by 12′ greenhouse for farming to be Sara’s full-time job.

They’re hoping to commercialize their hybrid system- what they call Art Garden. It’s geared toward those looking to grow in a cold climate and in a small space (one unit fits into 4 square feet). This is all part of an increasingly customized growing world that Ben hopes might make farmers out of more of us.

1 MILLION pounds of Food on 3 acres

Video: YouTube

This farm is absolutely amazing. They have 10,000 fish and 500 yards of compost and produce 1 MILLION pounds of Food per year. This has to be the way of the future if we are going to feed the population of Earth as we grow.

The beauty about this type of system is that it could also be utilized on marginal land as well.