Interesting facts about dandelions, Just Fun Facts

Interesting facts about dandelions

Dandelion is a common meadow herb of the Asteraceae or sunflower family.

There are about 100 species of dandelion, and all are beneficial.

The name “dandelion” comes from the French “dent de lion” – lion’s tooth, which refers to theserrated leaves.

The dandelion flower opens to greet the morning and closes in the evening to go to sleep.

Animals such as birds, insects and butterflies consume nectar or seed of dandelion.

Dandelion flowers do not need to be pollinated to form seed.

Dandelion seeds are often transported away by a gust of wind and they travel like tiny parachutes.

Seed can travel 8 kilometers (5 miles) before it finally reaches the ground.

Every part of the dandelion is useful: root, leaves, flower. It can be used for food, medicine and dye for coloring.

Dandelion can be used in the production of wine and root beer. Root of dandelion can be used as a substitute for coffee.

Dandelions are high in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.

Dandelions have sunk their roots deep into history. They were well known to ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and have been used in Chinese traditional medicine for over a thousand years.

Dandelion is used in folk medicine to treat infections and liver disorders. Tea made of dandelion act as diuretic.

The dandelion is the only flower that represents the 3 celestial bodies of the sun, moon and stars. The yellow flower resembles the sun, the puff ball resembles the moon and the dispersing seeds resemble the stars.

If you mow dandelions, they’ll grow shorter stalks to spite you.

Dandelions are, quite possibly, the most successful plants that exist, masters of survival worldwide.

10 Fascinating Facts to Know About the Protea, South Africa’s National Flower

Proteas date back millions of years

Dating back approximately 300 million years, proteas are considered to be among the oldest families of flowering plants on the planet.

Proteas naturally occur in the Southern Hemisphere

Because of this, it is believed that the protea genus originated on the super-continent Gondwana. When the continent eventually split, proteas were spread across different continents and countries including Australia, New Zealand and South America.

The protea was named and classified in the 1700s

The father of taxonomy and botanist, Swedish-born Carl Linnaeus, gave the protea (proteaceae) its name in 1735.

The name “protea” was inspired by Greek mythology

Proteas are named after Proteus, son of Poseidon and shape-shifter, highlighting the variety of plants found within the large proteaceae family.

Proteas made their way to Europe

The first reference to a protea was found in a book published in Antwerp in 1605, but botanists only officially introduced the plants to Europe in the 1700s.

The protea family is large and diverse

With over 1500 species, proteas come in different shapes and sizes, from shrubs to tall trees. Proteas are also known as sugarbushes, due to the excessive amount of nectar the flowers produce.

Australia has the greatest diversity of protea species

Although South Africa is associated with proteas more than any other country, Australia has the largest collection of species on the planet—over 850. South Africa comes in at second place, with more than 330 species.

The king protea (protea cynaroides) took the title of South Africa’s national flower in 1976

The king protea, so called because of its resemblance to a crown, is the largest of all proteas and is found in the Cape Floristic region. The flower appears on South African birth certificates and passports, as well as on the South African 5-Rand coin, and the Proteas, South Africa’s cricket team, also took its name from the genus.

Interesting facts about praying mantises

The praying mantis is an insect that has remained the subject of curiosity for ages because of its strange posture and predatory behaviour.

There are about 1,800 species of praying mantids around the world.

The praying mantis is found in many differing habitats. They are generally located in the warmer regions, particularly tropical and subtropical latitudes. Most species live in the tropical rainforest, although others can be found in deserts, grasslands and meadowlands.

Although different species of praying mantis have varied life spans, they generally only live up to one year. Of this year, only six months are spent as an adult.

Praying mantis are from 2.5 to 15 centimeters (1 to 6 inches) long, depending on the species.

They have six legs, two antennae and triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks.

The most eye-catching feature of the praying mantis are its front legs that make the insect look like it is
praying. The insect uses its grasping front legs to capture and hold its prey.

Most adult praying mantises have wings (some species do not). Females usually cannot fly with their wings, but males can.

Praying mantises have many different looks, including some that feature elaborate camouflage for protection.

Some have amazing body shapes that make them look like leaves, branches or flowers.

Green is the most common color for a praying mantis. However, it can come in a range of brownish tones and colors in order to camouflage itself in its environment.

Flower mantises are those species of praying mantis that mimic flowers. Their coloration is an example of aggressive mimicry, a form of camouflage in which a predator’s colors and patterns lure prey. For example, orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) is characterized by brilliant coloring and a structure finely adapted for camouflage, mimicking parts of the orchid flower.

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Praying mantises have as many senses as we do; sight, smell, taste, feeling and hearing. However, they mostly depend on sight. Their sense of sight is amazing compared to the abilities of other insects.

A praying mantis has 5 eyes! A mantis has to big compound eyes, the ones you will easily notice. But they also have three smaller eyes located on the middle of their head. Those eyes are used for detecting light while the big eyes are for seeing movement and having depth vision. Many other insect species have the same five-eye configuration.

They are one of the only kind of insect that has stereo-vision; it can look with two eyes at the same spot making it possible to judge distances very accurately.

Their sense of hearing is weak, but very special in the insect world. Almost all insects cannot hear as we do, they can only sense vibrations. But praying mantises actually have one ear, in the middle of their abdomen, that can sense the high-pitched tones of a bat!

They can turn their heads 180 degrees—an entire half circle. All other insects cannot turn their heads, their neck is too rigid to allow it.

As their hunting relies heavily on vision, mantises are primarily diurnal. Many species, however, fly at
night, and then may be attracted to artificial lights.

The praying mantis is a predator with a carnivorous diet. They tend to ambush and attack other insects that they can grab with their front legs. Once they hook their legs in, it is nearly impossible for prey to escape. Certain species may also prey on spiders, small birds, lizards, mice and other small animals.

The praying mantis will also eat others of their own kind. The most famous example of this is the notorious mating behavior of the adult female, who sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.

The mating season in temperate climates typically takes place in autumn, while in tropical areas, mating can occur at any time of the year. Following sexual mating, females lays between 10 and 400 eggs, depending on the species. Eggs are typically deposited in a froth mass-produced by glands in the abdomen. This froth hardens, creating a protective capsule, which together with the egg mass is called an ootheca.

The praying mantis mantises go through three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. For smaller species, the eggs may hatch in 3–4 weeks as opposed to 4–6 weeks for larger species. The nymphs may be colored differently from the adult, and the early stages are often mimics of ants. A mantis nymph grows bigger as it molts its exoskeleton. Molting can happen five to 10 times before the adult stage is reached, depending on the species. After the final molt, most species have wings, though some species remain wingless, particularly in the female sex.

The primary predators of the praying mantis are frogs, bats, monkeys, larger birds, spiders and snakes.

The word mantis comes from the Greek mantikos, for soothsayer or prophet.

Mantises were considered to have supernatural powers by early civilizations, including Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and Assyria.

The praying mantis was considered a god in southern African Khoi and San tradition for its praying posture; the word for the mantis in Afrikaans is Hottentotsgot (“god of the Khoi”).

Two martial arts separately developed in China have movements and fighting strategies based on those of the praying mantis.

Many gardeners and farmers welcome praying mantises, because the insects they eat are often pests that hurt crops.

The closest relatives of mantises are the termites and cockroaches.

Praying mantises are among the insects most commonly kept as pets.

The Independent described the “giant Asian praying mantis” as “part stick insect with a touch of Buddhist monk“, and stated that they needed a vivarium around 30 cm (12 in) on each side.

15 Amazing Facts About Orchids

Did you know that certain species of Orchid can survive up to 100 years? And that Orchids have the largest variety of flowers with the number of officially documented species standing at an amazing 25,000 plus? With so much variety, it should be no surprise that there are some amazing facts about Orchids that are not widely known.

Except for areas with extreme hot or cold weather, Orchids practically grow everywhere in the world and scientist are discovering more new species as days go by.

Here are 15 amazing facts about this special flower, which you will definitely find very fascinating.

  1. The size of orchids depends on the species. They can be tiny as a penny or extremely large, weighing couple of hundred pounds. Grammatophyllum are medium-sized to very large orchids, including the giant orchid(Grammatophyllum speciosum), believed to be the largest orchid species in existence. Itspseudobulbscan grow to a length of 2.5 m. Plztystele jungermannioides, which is believed to be the smallest Orchid in the world grows a measly 2mm. Orchid Plants can develop into gigantic clusters weighing from several hundred kilograms to one ton. The roots form spectacular bundles.

Grammatophyllum speciosum or Tiger Orchid Plztystele jungermannioides — believed to be the world’s smallest Orchid

  • Each orchid flower is bilateral symmetric, which means that it can be divided in two equal parts.
  • Size, shape and texture of leaves depend on the habitat. Orchids that live in dry climate have thick leaves covered with wax, while species that live in warm and humid areas have thin, elongated leaves. Certain species of orchids do not have leaves at all.
  • Orchids do not have usual roots. They have rhizome, tuber or aerial roots.
  • Orchids can live on the ground (terrestrial forms), attached to woody plants (epiphytic types) or under the ground.
  • Certain species of orchids are parasitic. They are not able to produce food (sugar) using the sunlight and carbon dioxide (like other plants). Instead, they obtain food from fungi that live inside their roots.
  • Bond between orchids and certain species of insects is tight and highly specialized. Petals have similar shape and color like female insects to attract males and ensure pollination. Ophrys apifera, better known as the Bee Orchid, lures male bees with its enticing smell and bee like appearance. When a male bee approaches the flower to mate, it becomes covered in pollen and is sent off to pollinate the next orchid it visits.

The Bee Orchid

  • Due to high specialization of pollination, extinction of insect means extinction of orchid (there is no one else who can pollinate it in the wild).
  • Flower of orchid can survive from few hours to 6 months, depending on the species.
  • Orchids produce several millions of miniature seeds. Only few seeds will develop into mature plant.
  • The genus Orchis comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning “testicle”; because of the shape of the bulbous roots. The term “orchid”, which is just a shortened form of the family Orchidaceae, was not introduced until 1845.
  • Orchid seeds do not have an endosperm which provides nutrients required for the germination. Due to this fact all orchids (including non-parasitic forms) live in symbiosis with fungi during germination. Germination can last from couple of weeks to 15 years.
  • People use orchids for numerous purposes. Substances isolated from orchids are used in industry of perfumes, spices and in traditional Asian medicine.
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Substances from orchids are used in making perfumes, spices and in traditional Asian medicine Vanilla flavor is extracted from Vanilla planifolia, a species of orchid

  • Vanilla is one of the best known and widely used flavors. It is extracted from the pod of Vanilla planifolia, which is a species of orchid.
  • Orchids are very old plants. According to the fossil evidences, orchids have existed on the planet around 100 million years.

Owl orchid The size of orchids depends on the species ‘Naked Guy’ orchid Monkey Orchid

Facts About The Amazon Rainforest

This article contains facts about the Amazon Rainforest and is part of Active Wild’s Rainforest Series.

The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s biggest rainforest (you can find out just how big further down the page). It is home to a vast number of animals and plants. Many native tribes also live in the forest, far away from modern life.

The Amazon Rainforest is located in South America, in the region around the Amazon River. Over half of the forest is in Brazil.

In this tropical region, it is hot and humid all year round. In many parts of the Amazon Rainforest it rains nearly every day.

The climate creates ideal conditions for trees and plants to grow. These provide food and shelter for the region’s animals.

Life thrives in the rainforest. One tenth of all of the Earth’s species are found in the Amazon Rainforest. Colourful toucans hop from branch to branch, howler monkeys call from the treetops, and tapirs rummage through the leaves on the forest floor searching for food.

However, the rainforest can also be a dangerous place. Carnivorous plants trap unwary insects, jaguars prowl through the trees, and anacondas glide through the rivers and streams.

Let’s learn more about the Amazon Rainforest…

Facts About The Amazon Rainforest: Introduction

This article starts with some amazing quick facts about the Amazon Rainforest.

We’ll then find out where the rainforest is located, and learn about its climate and history.

After that, we’ll take a look at the forest’s animals and plants. We’ll be discovering amazing rainforest animals such as the jaguar and the harpy eagle.

We’ll also look at man’s relationship with the Amazon Rainforest. We’ll find out about rainforest tribes and why the rainforest is important to man.

Finally we’ll deal with threats to the rainforest, including deforestation.

10 Particularly Amazing Amazon Rainforest Facts

It seems that everything about the Amazon Rainforest is amazing, so be prepared for some big numbers as you read about the forest and its wildlife. Here is a list of some particularly amazing facts about the Amazon Rainforest to start with…

  1. The Amazon Rainforest is the biggest rainforest in the world. It covers around 1.4 billion hectares.
  2. It is bigger than all of the other rainforests combined
  3. The Amazon Rainforest is twice the size of India (and India is the 7 th largest country in the world!)
  4. It is estimated that over one fifth of the world’s bird species live here (other estimates say an even larger proportion). Over 300 species of hummingbirds live here.
  5. Around 1/3 of the world’s flowering plants grow here (around 80,000 species)
  6. An estimated 16,000 different tree species grow in the Amazon Rainforest.
  7. An estimated 390 billion trees grow in the Amazon Rainforest.
  8. 1 in 10 of all the world’s plant and animal species are found in the Amazon Rainforest.
  9. 2.5 million insect species are found in the Amazon Rainforest
  10. 1 in 5 of the world’s fish species live in the area’s rivers and streams.

Where Is The Amazon Rainforest?

The Amazon Rainforest is located in South America. It covers most of the area known as the Amazon Basin.

You can see the Amazon Rainforest In the NASA satellite image of South America below. It is the dark green area at the top of the continent.

The Amazon Rainforest is located in South America. It is the dark green area on the top half of the satellite map of South America, above.

The Amazon Basin is the huge area of land that drains into the Amazon River and its tributaries (tributaries are smaller rivers and streams that flow into a larger river).

The Amazon Rainforest is actually spread over 9 countries: Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana (although, strictly speaking, French Guiana is a part of France rather than an actual country).

Around 60% of the Amazon Rainforest is in Brazil, and 13% is in Peru.

How Big Is The Amazon Rainforest?

Very big! The Amazon Rainforest covers 2,100,000 square miles (5,500,000 square kilometres), making it the biggest rainforest in the world. It is twice the size of India, and over half the size of America.

The Amazon River

The Amazon is the world’s second longest river. It holds around 1/5 of all of the planet’s fresh water. Around 2,000 species of freshwater fish live in the Amazon River system (compare this with the 300 species found in Europe).

What Type Of forest Is The Amazon Rainforest?

The Amazon Rainforest is a tropical rainforest. Tropical rainforests are found in a region known as the tropics, which are located near the equator.

The two main characteristics of tropical rainforests is that they are hot and wet.

Most of the Amazon Rainforest is what is known as a tropical lowland rainforest. You can read more about the different types of rainforest here.

Amazon Rainforest Weather

Although there is very little seasonal variation near the equator, the Amazon does have rainy seasons, during which it rains even more than usual. This is known as a tropical monsoon climate.

Amazon Rainforest Rainfall

A lot of rain falls here.

During the rainy season, rainfall is between 60 and 180 inches.

During the ‘dry’ season, rainfall is between 30 to 100 inches.

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However, because the Amazon Rainforest is so big, different parts of the forest have different climates. Some parts of the Amazon Rainforest experience dry seasons during which there is no rainfall.

Amazon Rainforest Temperature

Due to its location near the equator, there is no variation in seasonal temperatures in the rainforest. It is hot all year round. The average temperature in the Amazon Rainforest is 27°C (80.7°F).

There is more variation between day and night temperatures (a difference of between 2 to 5°C) than seasonal variations.

Animals In The Amazon Rainforest

With one in ten of the world’s species making their home in the Amazon Rainforest, you’d be right in thinking that among them are some pretty amazing animals!

Birds that live in the Amazon Rainforest include brightly-coloured macaws and toucans, hummingbirds (over 300 species of them), and the harpy eagle, the heaviest and most powerful bird of prey in the Americas, and one which happily feeds on monkeys and sloths.

Harpy eagles’ plumage is a mixture of dark greys and white.

Amazonian reptiles include: caimans; turtles, including the South American river turtle, the biggest freshwater turtle in South America; and snakes, including fearsome green anacondas and boa constrictors.

Amphibians include the famous – and cute – red eyed tree frog, and the famous – but not so cute – poison dart frogs (there are more than one species of these deadly creatures).

The poison dart frog’s bright colours tell potential predators that it is poisonous.

There are more insects than any other type of animal in the Amazon Rainforest. Famous examples are the leafcutter ants, who can harvest huge amounts of vegetation, but who also help it to grow, and blue morpho butterflies, whose colours are so bright they can be seen by pilots flying over the forest.

Mammals include primates such as howler monkeys and spider monkeys. Anteaters hoover up large numbers of ants and termites, but not so many that the insects can’t rebuild their nests (allowing the anteater to come back again!). One of the rainforest’s most famous inhabitants is the jaguar. The largest cat species in the Americas (and the third biggest species of cat in the world), this stealthy animal is a master at ambush hunting.

Plants Of The Amazon Rainforest

An incredible number of plants grow in the Amazon Rainforest. These range from carnivorous pitcher plants that trap and eat their insect prey; towering kapok trees that grow up to 70 m (230 ft.) high; and Amazonian water lilies whose leaves can be over 2 metres in diameter.

The leaves of the Amazon Water Lily can grow to over 2 metres in diameter!

The most common tree in the Amazon Rainforest is the Euterpe precatoria, a pine tree which grows up to 20 metres tall. Its fruit are edible, and are eaten by native people.

Other common trees include the rubber tree, which produces latex used to make rubber, and walking palms, which have unusual, stilt-like roots.

Plants in the Amazon rainforest don’t always grow on the ground! Many species actually grow on other plants. Epiphytes, which include orchids and bromeliads, grow on trees, usually in the canopy layer. The epiphytes growing in a single tree can weigh several tonnes.

Tribes In The Amazon Rainforest

Humans have inhabited the Amazon Rainforest for around 10,000 years. Today it is home to around one million native people, grouped in several hundred tribes. Most of these tribes are in contact with the modern world, but there are some who choose to retain a traditional way of life deep in the forest. These are known as ‘uncontacted’ tribes.

Why The Amazon Rainforest Is Important?

The Amazon Rainforest is important in many ways.

It is home to a vast number of species, many of which are not found anywhere else. It’s also home to native tribes and many other people, many of whom live sustainably within or around the forest.

Many medicines are produced using ingredients found in the rainforest.

The forest helps to regulate weather patterns. Studies have shown that less rain falls on deforested areas.

The plants of the Amazon Rainforest hold vast stores of carbon which, if released due to areas of the forest being cleared, is harmful to the atmosphere.

If harvested responsibly, the Amazon Rainforest can produce timber, food and many other products beneficial to man.

Threats To The Amazon Rainforest

Deforestation is the primary threat to the Amazon Rainforest. Most forest clearance is carried out to make way for agricultural land. Crops such as soya beans are grown, and cattle are allowed to graze.

Trees are cut down to make roads that allow loggers to reach deep into the forest. Valuable timbers are taken out of the forest. The roads to the previously unreachable parts of the forest are then used by farmers who clear more land for their cattle.

Each year more and more of the Amazon Rainforest is lost due to deforestation. The land cleared of trees is visible with the naked eye from space.

Facts About The Amazon Rainforest Conclusion

We hope you’ll agree that the Amazon Rainforest is an amazing place. Teeming with life, it is a place of incredible beauty that needs to be protected.

What was the most amazing thing that you learned about the rainforest? Was it its size? The number of different species that live there? The animals and tribes that call it home?

So many facts about the Amazon Rainforest are amazing that it’s hard to know where to start!

Perhaps one day you’d like to visit the Amazon Rainforest yourself!

If you want to learn more about rainforests you can start at our ultimate guide to rainforests.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to link to it, and share it on social media using the share buttons provided.

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