I could be considered part magpie. I love shiny things and… Actually, that’s the only thing I have in common with a magpie. I probably won’t enter your nest and steal your eggs while you’re not looking.
Science & nature
Some people say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. These people obviously haven’t heard of the Catatumbo lightning in Venezuela, which has been striking the same spot almost continuously for centuries!
Sometimes called Brazilian grapes, jabuticaba fruit are big purple berries, 3-4 cm in diameter. Unusually, rather than growing in bunches, the fruit grows all the way up the tree’s trunk and leaves it looking like it might have a hideous disease.
A rambutan is a soft, white-fleshed fruit (similar to a lychee) covered in a red spiny skin. The word rambutan is Indonesian for “hairy”. This is fine as a description of how it looks, but really needs something more to make it clear that they’re talking about a fruit – the tree that the rambutans grow on is also called rambutan (and that isn’t even hairy) so there’s bound to be some confusion.
The fruit of the thatch screwpine is made up of many little wedges, each containing between two and eight of the plant’s seeds.
The salak is a type of palm tree which grows its fruit in clusters at the base of the plant (rather than dropping it on you from above, like some other palm trees I could mention).
A noni is a type of mulberry, but one which is far too ugly to have a handbag named after it. The fruit can reach up to 18cm long and looks like some kind of gross, larval blob – like it might suddenly split open and a horrible insect will climb out and fly towards you.
Buddha’s hand is a citrus fruit originating in India or China. Judging by its appearance, it’s 50% lemon and 50% squid (figures are approximate).
Most plants are vegetarian, but for others a diet of mud and photosynthesis just isn’t enough. Whether because of a simple craving for meat or (more likely) because of a lack of nutrients in the soil, some plants have turned carnivorous and started devouring the surrounding wildlife. One such meat-eater is the cobra lily, a type of pitcher plant native to California and Oregon.
Plants aren’t usually thought of as very fast moving – they stay in one place, almost completely still, occasionally drooping over if you forget to water them. In some cases, however, plants can be amazingly quick; grabbing hold of insects, shooting out their seeds or spinning their leaves round to get a suntan.