Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla native to Mexico. . . . Originally cultivated by Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican peoples, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés is credited with introducing both the spice and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s. Attempts to cultivate the vanilla plant outside Mexico and Central America proved futile because of the symbiotic relationship between the tlilxochitl vine that produced the vanilla orchid and the local species of Melipona bee; it wasn't until 1837 that Belgian botanist Charles François Antoine Morren discovered this fact and pioneered a method of artificially pollinating the plant. Unfortunately, the method proved financially unworkable and was not deployed commercially. In 1841, a 12-year-old French-owned slave by the name of Edmond Albius, who lived on Île Bourbon, discovered the plant could be hand pollinated, allowing global cultivation of the plant. --Wikipedia
It all began when Colgate biology professor Frank Frey and a former
student, Maggie Eldridge, started looking into a peculiarity involving
plants that turn red in the fall. The predominant colors of autumn
break out when chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down and exposes
remaining pigments, which are often yellow or orange.
But it takes a different process to produce red. That isn't a pigment
that is left over when everything else is gone. Instead, it's produced
in the fall, at the very time when the tree is struggling to cope with
the energy demands of a changing and challenging season.
Why, Frey and Eldridge wondered, did the maple go to all that trouble
at a time when it needed its metabolic energy for other purposes, like
stimulating the growth of its root system?
Here's what they found:
"When scarlet-tinted autumn leaves are dropped in the fall, it appears
that anthocyanins (molecules that produce the red color) leach from the
leaves into the soil and protect seedlings and saplings from
interspecific competition the following spring," Frey says. In other
words, no one but maples allowed.
are universally acknowledged to be yummy, but some Old World quail can
also be toxic, depending on a variety of circumstances, including
migratory route, etc. According to Susan Lumpkin of the National Zoo :
Quail using the eastern
migratory flyway are toxic only during the southern, fall
migration, while quail using the western flyway are toxic
only during the northern, spring migration. There is also
a strange patchy distribution of human poisonings, with cases
reported from northern Algeria, southern France, mainland
and island Greece, northeastern Turkey, and southwest Russia.
term for the effects of eating toxic quail is coturnism. The
illness sounds dreadful, with a list of symptoms that includes
vomiting, respiratory distress, excruciating pain, and paralysis,
but it is seldom fatal except to elderly people. . . .
coturnism wasn’t coined until this century, but people
have known about quail poisoning for perhaps as long as 3,500
years. This estimate is based on a Biblical story of Israelites
in the wilderness feasting on quail and quickly being struck
down with a plague. Later, ancient Greek and Roman writers,
described the syndrome as well. From then until fairly recently,
it was generally believed that the birds’ toxicity derived
from their eating poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)
seeds during migration.
hemlock theory has been disputed, based on modern research carried out
by nutritional geographer Louis Grivetti, who found that hemlock seeds
are fatal to Asiatic quail:
Grivetti notes that the quail might
obtain coniines (the toxic compound in hemlock) from a plant
other than hemlock. Or, Asiatic quail may be more sensitive
to coniines than the European form, although the two species
are very closely related.
Another possibility is " the seeds of a member of the mint family,
Stachys annua. Russian scientists found these seeds
in the digestive tracts of quail that caused coturnism and,
just as important, this plant sets seed in the various parts
of its range at the same time the quail are toxic."
a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It
brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the
ground, as far as a day's walk in any direction. 32 All that day and
night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No
one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around
the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and
before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the
people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place
was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who
had craved other food.
I don't know if this is climbing nightshade, woody nightshade, or some other variety, but I just pulled enough of it out of my black raspberies to kill off my entire neighborhood. I feel like Rappacini's daughter.
In folklore, according to an article in Wikipedia,
Stories claim that the devil has the exclusive rights to plant and
harvest this plant. Hence, anyone eating it is visited and killed by
the devil. Many also believed it was a temptation for greedy children as the
berries seem to be offered on green, pentagram plates and look very
Belladonna is sometimes claimed as a cure for lycanthropy.
A study published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology
reports on nine species of Bruneian ants, whose workers "are known to
have hypertrophied mandibular glands and release their glandular
contents suicidally from the head by rupturing the inter- segmental
membrane of the gaster." In other words, their heads explode. Exploding
ants will instinctively commit suicide when their colony is attacked,
killing not only themselves but often their attackers as well.
Jones, T.H., D. A. Clark, A. A. Edwards, D. W. Davidson, T. F. Spande and R. R. Snelling. The Chemistry of Exploding Ants, Camponotus SPP. (Cylindricus COMPLEX). Journal of Chemical Ecology 30, 8 (2004).