The plant that only grows near diamonds

There is a certain sort of exotic mythos that’s grown up around diamond mining and the diamond, and a lot of that is thanks to the marketing campaigns of De Beers. They made diamonds the stone to have, which has turned diamond mining a rather cutthroat operation. Science no says there’s a weird little trick to finding diamond-rich soils.

Just look at for a plant called Pandanus candelabrum.

The palm-like plant apparently prefers soil rich in kimberlite – a type of igneous rock that forms in the Eart’s crust in huge vertical columns. These kimberlite pipes, as they’re known, reach deep into the mantle and are the result of ancient volcanic eruptions that can push diamonds hundreds of miles up to the Earth’s surface. Although geologists have long known that where there’s kimberlite, there are often diamonds, now – thanks to Pandanus candelabrum – there’s an easy way of finding the kimberlite too.

The discovery of Pandanus candelabrum’s expensive taste was made in Liberia by Florida International University researcher Stephen Haggerty, who published his finding in a paper in Economic Geology .

Haggerty, who is also chief exploration officer of Youssef Diamond Mining Company (YDMC), with concessions in Liberia, believes the plant has adapted to kimberlite soils, which are rich in magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

The scientist, who has worked in the African nation off and on since the late 1970s, has in recent years focused his prospecting efforts in the northwest part of Liberia.

Haggerty tells Science, who first reported the story, that he thinks the plant adapted to grow phosphorus. These combine to create what is essentially a “very good fertilizer,” says Haggerty. It certainly seems to make for a healthy diet, with Pandanus candelabrum growing up to 10 meters tall on an above-ground root system similar to that of mangrove trees.

Haggerty adds that even though the plant’s presence indicates that there’s kimberlite in the ground, this doesn’t guarantee that there’ll be diamonds as well. Kimberlite pipes are rare to begin with, and of the roughly 6,000 examples known in the world, only around 600 contain diamonds. Of these, only 60 or so contain enough gems to be worth mining.

According to his bio, posted at FIU’s website, he is currently conducting wide-ranging research, which includes from field activities in Brazil, India, South Africa, and West Africa (finger printing “Blood Diamonds”), “to the cosmos, pre-solar diamonds (greater than 4.5 billion years old), and the enigmatic origin of black and porous carbonado-diamond.”

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Grafted Stone Fruit Tree


An art professor from Syracuse University in the US, Van Aken grew up on a family farm before pursuing a career as an artist, and has combined his knowledge of the two to develop his incredible Tree of 40 Fruit.

In 2008, Van Aken learned that an orchard at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station was about to be shut down due to a lack of funding. This single orchard grew a great number of heirloom, antique, and native varieties of stone fruit, and some of these were 150 to 200 years old. To lose this orchard would render many of these rare and old varieties of fruit extinct, so to preserve them, Van Aken bought the orchard, and spent the following years figuring out how to graft parts of the trees onto a single fruit tree.

Working with a pool of over 250 varieties of stone fruit, Van Aken developed a timeline of when each of them blossom in relationship to each other and started grafting a few onto a working tree’s root structure. Once the working tree was about two years old, Van Aken used a technique called chip grafting to add more varieties on as separate branches. This technique involves taking a sliver off a fruit tree that includes the bud, and inserting that into an incision in the working tree. It’s then taped into place, and left to sit and heal over winter. If all goes well, the branch will be pruned back to encourage it to grow as a normal branch on the working tree.

After about five years and several grafted branches, Van Aken’s first Tree of 40 Fruit was complete.

Aken’s Tree of 40 Fruit looks like a normal tree for most of the year, but in spring it reveals a stunning patchwork of pink, white, red and purple blossoms, which turn into an array of plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, cherries and almonds during the summer months, all of which are rare and unique varieties.

Not only is it a beautiful specimen, but it’s also helping to preserve the diversity of the world’s stone fruit. Stone fruits are selected for commercial growing based first and foremost on how long they keep, then how large they grow, then how they look, and lastly how they taste. This means that there are thousands of stone fruit varieties in the world, but only a very select few are considered commercially viable, even if they aren’t the best tasting, or most nutritious ones.

Van Aken has grown 16 Trees of 40 Fruit so far, and they’ve been planted in museums, community centres, and private art collections around the US. He now plans to grow a small orchard of these trees in a city setting.

Of course, the obvious question that remains is what happens to all the fruit that gets harvested from these trees? Van Aken told Lauren Salkeld at Epicurious:

I’ve been told by people that have [a tree] at their home that it provides the perfect amount and perfect variety of fruit. So rather than having one variety that produces more than you know what to do with, it provides good amounts of each of the 40 varieties. Since all of these fruit ripen at different times, from July through October, you also aren’t inundated.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

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Green Rooftops

DIY Green Rooftop Design

Green rooftops have many benefits in society; they reduce stormwater runoff, keep a building cool in the summer, warm in the water and are simply absolutely beautiful! Below you will see guides as to how to build them as well as hundreds of thousands of amazing pictures to inspire you!

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A newer trend that is quickly gaining popularity around the world is rooftop farming. Rather than planting only vegetation, rooftop farmers are cultivating entire gardens complete with multiple fruit and vegetable species in the unused space atop large urban structures. The farm even has chicken coops and beehives on site to round out the farming experience.

The largest of these rooftop farms is located in a surprising place – Brooklyn, NY. Although the trend is only just starting to catch on in the States, European countries adopted green-roofs years ago as a way to provide insulation, create habits for local wildlife, improve oxygen levels in urban areas and control water runoff.…/

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