plants

Ritual of Oak and Mistletoe

Twas the night before Christmas and deep in the woods, a sacrifice was planned by the Gauls and their Druids… Yes, in this holiday episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the curious biology of everyone’s favorite smooch-inducing tree parasite -- as well as some of its alleged magic powers and scientifically-studied properties. 

From the Vault: Carnivorous Plants

Are humans truly safe from the hunger of meat-eating plants? Can we trust the trees that loom over us? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss myths and fictions of killer trees, the science of carnivorous plants and the curious absence of mean-eating plants in our natural world. (Originally published October 18, 2016)

Cannabis Files: Humanity's THC Odyssey

Humans have known about cannabis for thousands of years, crafting hemp textiles and consuming its psychoactive THC. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian examine the cannabis plant, its travels through human populations and its famed sensory and psychological effects.

Poison Arrows, Chinese Medicine and Werewolves

Perhaps you've heard of wolf's bane as curative or even causal agent in the mythology of lycanthropy, yet the appeal of this very real plant reaches far beyond the realm of werewolves. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian consider the role of wolf's bane in traditional Chinese medicine, early biological warfare and natural insect defenses.

The Necessary Spice

Spices are essentially chemical weapons. They protect a plant from animals and microbes. yet humans long ago learned to hack these defenses and use them to flavor their food. Join Robert and Julie for a discussion of spice and evolution.

Artistic Rendering of a Cubed Planet Earth

The Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast has some pretty awesome fans, including graphic artist Robert McLaren, who took it on himself to create this amazing interpretation of a cubical planet Earth after listening to our episode on the topic (which you can grab off iTunes, Zune and the RSS feed).

My relationships with plants are often a bit strained. I manage to drown tomatoes. I wind up mistaking hibiscuses for weeds year after year and either hack them to death myself or pay the neighborhood kid to do it. If you're a member of the vegetable kingdom, then I'm afraid you and me simply weren't meant to be. But it all comes down to communication, right? Why can't you plants, say, just tell me when you need watering instead of passive aggressively withering on me when you're thirsty? Am I being unreasonable? Well, not according to the makers of Botanicalls, the new telecommunications system that enables your plant to send you texts, e-mails or tweets when they need watering. Of course, your plant's not actually going to send out tweets -- though I can't imagine their messages would be any more mundane than the average human Twitter user. Botanicalls makes use of an Ethernet-enabled soil probe. According to Science Daily, the probe sends out electrical waves through the soil and the amount of moisture in the soil affects the overall voltage level. TreeHugger has a good graphic of the system here.