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The glory of autumn explained: Chris Packham reveals why leaves change from greens to reds and golden yellows.
You may have heard of insect-catching plants like the Venus fly trap but have you ever come across the infamous flesh-eating plants of Tasmania?
The southern island boasts an impressive array of carnivorous plants that will eat insects and any small prey that they can get their carnivorous florets on – but not anything as big as a human so you can tread safely in the Tasmanian bush.
Darren Cullen from Tasmania collects the flesh eating plants. His impressive assortment include the popular and common as well as the rare and endemic.
WE GET PEOPLE TRAVELLING HERE TO SEE TASMANIAN CARNIVOROUS PLANTS. WE HAVE TWO GENERA OF CARNIVOROUS PLANTS HERE, DROSERA AND UTRICULARIA, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS SUNDEWS AND BLADDERWORTS. YOU GROW BLADDERWORTS FOR THEIR AMAZING FLOWERS AS THE TRAPS ARE UNDERGROUND.
The flesh-eating plants are technically endangered in Tasmania but are commonly found around Victoria and in parts of New Zealand.
Sundews, one of the state’s most sought after carnivores, are known for their glandular tentacles that are covered in a sticky liquid secretion. Their prey, which mostly consists of insects are attracted to the sweet smell of the sticky liquid that the plant secretes. Once this liquid is touched by their prey, they become trapped in the sticky mucus and die from asphyxiation as it envelops them.
The tentacles can move in
Our guide for the day, Latvian blogger Zane Enina ofMugursoma.lv fame tells me that this is a pretty common conversation amongst Latvians during Autumn.
I wonder immediately if they are enough mushrooms for every Latvian to go mushroom picking.
We’re rolling through an open road about 100 kms outside of Riga. We’re surrounded by dense forests and an immense blanket of silence. We’ve been driving for almost 20 minutes from Zane’s house in Vangazi and there’s been nothing but green forests and deep blue skies.
I’m pretty excited about the idea of foraging for food. It has been one of those skills I’ve been always curious to learn more about. My father grew up in a rural part of India where nature’s bounty was rich. The garden of the house he grew up in was more like a jungle. You could find everything here from the freshest (hottest) green chillies
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Nightshades have a deadly reputation but these plants, steeped in myth and folklore, have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. And they may have properties that could keep us healthy today, writes Mary Colwell.
“J K Rowling was extremely good at botany, and one of the plants she put into Harry Potter was mandrake,” says Sandy Knapp, head of the Plants Division at the Natural History Museum in London.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Prof Sprout shows Harry and his classmates how to repot young mandrakes, but not without everyone wearing earmuffs.
“The cry of the mandrake is fatal to anyone who hears it,” says Hermione, showing off her knowledge to the class. But the students are dealing with young plants which are not quite so dangerous. Prof Sprout points out that as they are “only seedlings, their cries won’t kill yet… but they will knock you out for several hours”.
The pupils cover their ears and Harry pulls a mandrake out of its pot. “Instead of roots, a small, muddy and extremely ugly baby popped out… He had pale green mottled skin, and was clearly bawling at the top of his lungs.”
The scene is based on a medieval myth – it was believed that when pulled from the ground the root emitted a shrill cry that drove people mad and killed them.
The plant also features in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “What with loathsome smells, And shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth, That living mortals, hearing them, run mad.”
Herbalists who wanted to use mandrake were advised to plug their ears, tie the plant to a dog and place some meat out of reach – then when the dog ran to the meat it would pull the screaming root out of the soil. The dog would die, but the herbalist would get the mandrake safely.
READ MORE HERE: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33506081
Mabon is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to “reap what they sow,” both literally and figuratively. It is the time when night and day stand equal in duration; thus is it a time to express gratitude, complete projects and honor a moment of balance.
“Mabon is a time to reflect on the previous year, when we can celebrate our successes (likened to bringing in the harvest) and assess which crops, projects, or dreams didn’t come to fruition,” the Los Angeles-based pagan leader Laurie Lovekraft told HuffPost.
The pagan website The White Goddess explains:
This is the time to look back not just on the past year, but also your life, and to plan for the future. In the rhythm of the year, Mabon is a time of rest and celebration, after the hard work of gathering the crops. Warm autumn days are followed by chill nights, as the Old Sun God returns to the embrace of the Goddess.
The holiday is named after the Welsh God, Mabon, son of Earth Mother goddess Modron.
Some pagans mark the holiday by enjoying rich feasts with seasonal foods like apples, pomegranates and root vegetables. Many also observe rituals honoring the goddess’ transition from mother to crone.
Lovekraft offered six ways to celebrate that can be done in small or large groups or individually:
1. Create an altar. This can be on a dining room table, hearth, or dresser with apples, leaves, pinecones, corn, pomegranate, squash, and root vegetables. Add gardening tools (scythe, baskets, hand trowel) and objects that are the colors of gold, orange, red, bronze, and rust. Light an orange or yellow candle and give thanks for the blessings of abundance you have in your life. (Always remember fire safety when working with candles and never leave a candle burning unattended!)
2. Ask for blessings. When lighting your candle, you can call to the Goddess in her Mother aspect and/or ask the Green Man to bless your harvest.
3. Do apple magic. Apples are often harvested in the fall. Cut an apple horizontally to reveal the hidden, five-pointed star (a pentagram) inside. Look for pentagonal forms around you (ex. five fingers and five toes, five petals of certain flowers, starfish, etc.)
5. Meditate on balance. This is especially helpful if you are a family caregiver, but also if you have a high-stress job, pressure-filled commute, or have a lot of personal drama. Reflect on how you handle pressure, how you manage your and other people’s emotions, and how easily your peace of mind can be disrupted. Think about ways you can reduce stress and bring more balance to your days. Consider
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