I’ve been watching a DVD called How to Grow a Planet, a British TV series from 2012 presented by Professor Iain Stewart, a Scottish geologist – and some of the information is absolutely fascinating. He was in New Caledonia for one bit of it, showing us Cook’s pines (Araucaria columnaris) and then moved inland to find what he called “the world’s first flower”.
Yep, plants haven’t always flowered – conifer pollen and fern spores being two of the very ancient ways of plant reproduction. The oldest living flowering plant on our planet, reaching back at least 130 million years, is Amborellaceae, a family that includes just one known species, Amborella trichopoda (see a photo here). Often described as a “living fossil,” this small woody plant grows only on New Caledonia.
See a clip of the Prof climbing the world’s tallest tree (other clips available on the right-hand menu).
“The Big Bloom – How Flowering Plants Changed the World” is a National Geographic article that may be read here. The land on this planet was, before the advent of flowers, almost entirely green and much of it comprised ferns, cycads and conifers.
I’d been thinking I hadn’t see or heard much about the show gardens at the recent Sydney Garden Show – Catherine Stewart (no relation to the Prof) was getting the same reaction from people who knew she’d been so has posted a review on her Garden Drum website.
Have you heard of Egyptian walking onions? Neither had I until recently. The name made me curious enough to find out a bit more – here is an informative American site and here’s a place to buy the bulbs in New Zealand (they’re also available on Trade Me).
Allium proliferum have a shallot-like onion at the base and produce bulblets at the top of the stem (usually, they don’t flower) which, if heavy enough will drag the foliage down and take root in the ground, hence the name “walking” onion.