Which plant has a metabolic rate as high as a hummingbird’s, generates enough heat to melt its way through the snow, and has the ability to regulate its body temperature just like a warm-blooded animal? Here’s a hint: they look like cabbages and smell like skunks, which attracts early spring pollinators.
As soon as the ice melts from ponds, wood frogs emerge from hibernation, filling cool spring nights with the sound of their croaks. To tell males from females, just look at their hands. Males have absurdly muscular thumbs, the better to hold onto females in the fierce competition for mates.
Have you ever noticed tumor-like growths on plants? Fungi, insects, mites and bacteria are like “body snatchers,” penetrating plant cells and manipulating them to produce galls, cankers and witch’s brooms for the parasites’ benefit. Fortunately, most are benign.
Mosses are among the most ancient plants on earth, and their peculiar biology shows it. The lovely leafy green plant that all of us are familiar with? It has just half the normal number of chromosomes, like an egg or sperm!
In February, when it’s still frigid at night but daytime temperatures are starting to warm, it may look like trees are just sitting there doing nothing. But inside their cells, changes are happening and sap is starting to flow.