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Plants & fungi

Analysis of yew wood

Taxus baccata
Tue, 2013-09-03 10:30

Taxus baccata (European yew) is a well known poisonous plant. Eating a relatively small quantity of leaves can be fatal for livestock and humans. The toxicity of yew leaves is due to the presence of alkaloids known as taxines, of which taxine B is suspected as being one of the most poisonous. Taxines are also known to be present in the bark and seeds of yew, but are absent from the fleshy red arils.

Growing the wrong Tephrosia

Tephrosia vogelii
Mon, 2013-07-29 11:59

Synthetic pesticides can be problematic in African farming systems due to environmental persistence, exposure to hazardous chemicals, cost and adulteration (dilution) by unscrupulous traders. Pesticidal plants provide the poorest farmers with a low-cost alternative that is environmentally benign and less toxic.

Kew discovers new nettle species in caves

Nettles belonging to the genus Elatostema growing in Yangzi cave, China (Image: A. Monro)
Wed, 2013-06-26 17:20

Southwestern China, Myanmar and northern Vietnam contain one of the oldest exposed outcrops of limestone in the world. Within this area are thousands of caves and gorges. Wei Yi-Gang (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangxi Institute of Botany) and Alex Monro (Kew) have been exploring these caves and gorges for plants from the nettle family (Urticaceae).

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