The photo shown below was taken at a market in Shanghai, China.
Can you guess what they are?
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If you guessed, water caltrop 菱, you're right!
Water caltrops (Trapa natans) are the seeds of a floating annual aquatic plant that's native to warm temperate parts of Eurasia and Africa. The plant grows in slow-moving water up to 5 m deep, and bear an ornately shaped fruit that resembles the head of a bull or the silhouette of a flying bat. Each fruit contains a single very large, starchy seed. T. natans and T. bicornis have been cultivated in China and the Indian subcontinent for at least 3,000 years for the edible seeds that are used in pastries, served steamed or boiled from street vendors, and even as a remedy for inebriation.
To tap into scarce water supplies, most desert plants have extensive root systems that burrow deep or spread wide. But one desert moss has a different trick up its sleeve: a thirst-quenching structure called an awn. Awns are tiny, hairlike structures that project from the end of each leaf to capture water (above). For the first time, scientists have examined in detail how this moss (Syntrichia caninervis) pulls water right from the air using its awns. At the smallest scale, the awns are covered with grooves about 100 nanometers deep and 200 nanometers wide, the perfect size for dew to condense within them when conditions are right. Those nanogrooves lie within larger troughs that measure about 1.5 micrometers deep and 3 micrometers wide, a [ ... ]
Unlike conventional plants, the Venus flytrap copes with poor soil by eating bugs! But the cost of insect hunting is high. Catching prey requires Dionaea muscipula to snap down quickly and then carry out the energy-intensive process of digestion. To balance the costs and benefits of eating meat, the plants have developed a counting system to identify real prey from false alarms, according to a new study.
To understand how the flytrap distinguishes a potential food source from a false alarm like a raindrop, researchers observed the electrical and chemical response of the plant to touch stimulation. In order to mimic insect prey, the scientists stimulated the hairlike sensors located on the plant’s trap. Touching the sensors two times quick [ ... ]
The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanium) is one of the world's stinkiest plants. What makes it smell so bad? Analyses of chemicals released by the plant show the "stench" includes dimethyl trisulfide, dimethyl disulfide, trimethylamine (rotting fish), isovaleric acid (sweaty socks), benzyl alcohol (sweet floral scent), phenol (like Chloraseptic), and indole (like mothballs). While this may be foul smelling to humans, to dung beetles and flies, it smells like opportunity. Insects which feed on dead animals or lay their eggs in rotting meat are attracted to the sent, therefore the smell invite pollinators and scares away humans at the same time. [ ... ]
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