Pucker up, Think About It Thursday is back again! This edition we will discover the strange place where that jolly little green plant, mistletoe, actually grows!
Mistletoe is considered a semi parasitic plant. Meaning that it will attach itself to a tree or shrub, the roots will penetrate the branches and absorb water and nutrients from the host plant. Birds and small animals will eat the mistletoe’s berries and distribute the seeds onto other tree branches. The mistletoe plant is not considered a full parasitic plant because some species have the ability to photosynthesize for a short period of time. Mistletoe can grow on one branch in a tree and only kill that branch or it can take over and kill the entire tree! However, mistletoe is an important addition to the ecosystem because many small animals and birds rely upon it for food and shelter.
Over the years it has been said that diamonds formed from the metamorphism of coal. According to Geology.com, we now know this is untrue. “Coal has rarely played a role in the formation of diamonds. In fact, most diamonds that have been dated are much older than Earth’s first land plants – the source material of coal! That alone should be enough evidence to shut down the idea that Earth’s diamond deposits were formed from coal”.
There is thought to be 4 processes that lead to diamond formation. The first of the four processes is the most significant.
1. Earth’s Mantle- Geologist believe that diamonds form in the Earth’s mantle and are transported the the Earth’s surface by deep-source volcanic eruptions. The diamonds form from pure carbon in the mantle under extreme heat and pressure.
2. Subduction Zones- “Tiny diamonds have been found in rocks that are thought to have been subducted deep into the mantle by plate tectonic processes – then returned to the surface .”
3. Impact Sites – Throughout the Earth’s vast history, it has been hit by a large number of asteroids. These asteroids strike the Earth with intense heat and pressure that geologists believe that it is perfect for diamond formation. “This theory of diamond formation has been supported by the discovery of tiny diamonds around several asteroid impact sites.”
4. Formation in Space – “Smithsonian researchers also found large numbers of tiny diamonds when they were cutting a sample from the Allen Hills meteorite. These diamonds in meteorites are thought to have formed in space through high speed collisions similar to how diamonds form on Earth at impact sites”.
Coal is not a good source for diamond formation. Since coal is formed from plant debris and the oldest land plants are younger than almost every diamond that has ever been dated, it is easy to conclude that coal did not play a significant role in the formation of Earth’s diamonds.
Thanks for checking out this weeks Think About It Thursday! Stay tuned each week for more science related topics!
Almost every food item that we consume has some sort of salt in it. The sodium chloride (salt) gets dissolved by the body and ends up in your blood stream and tears! Your blood contains a little less than 1 percent sodium chloride and your tears probably contain almost that much. Just for comparison, seawater contains about 3 percent sodium chloride. An adult body contains as much as 1 cup of salt at one time!
Leaf color comes from pigments. Pigments are natural substances produced by leaf cells. The three pigments that color leaves are:
chlorophyll (which produces the green color)
carotenoid(produces yellow, orange, and brown colors)
anthocyanin (produces a red color)
Chlorophyll is the most important of the three. Leaves contain chlorophyll in order to use the sunlight to produce its own food through the process of photosynthesis.
Carotenoids are organic pigments that are found in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants and some other photosynthetic organisms. Carotenoids create bright yellows and oranges in familiar fruits and vegetables. For example, corn, carrots, and bananas to name a few.
Anthocyanins are pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue depending on the pH, they add the color red to plants, including cranberries, red apples, cherries, strawberries and others.
In the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible. Most anthocyanins are produced only in autumn, and only under certain conditions. Not all trees can make anthocyanin, but sugar maples seem to have the easiest time in doing so.
Resources: State of New York: College of Environmental Science and Forestry: http://www.esf.edu/
Dnr.wi.gov- Environmental Education for Kids: http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/eek/veg/trees/treestruecolor.htm