When science mimics nature

Science mimics nature - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Science mimics nature – Photograph by Laura Lecce

For this Friday instead of a flower I wanted to show you this photo I took of a brittle winter shrub I came across in Utah. I was attracted to the geometry of the branches, the different layers of focus and the contrasting segments of color that come together to form a very beautiful abstract image. Many things that scientists do can resemble this kind of picture. Some examples are the drawings of chemical structures consisting of different atoms and their bonds, or cells branching out to each other in a culture dish. This kind of picture reminds me that nature, science and art are intricately linked. I hope you can also appreciate the beauty in each of those. Happy weekend everyone!

Black currawong and her honey bush

Black currawong and her honey bush - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Black currawong and her honey bush – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This intense-looking bird is a black currowong native to Australasia that I photographed while hiking in Tasmania. These birds look quite similar to Australian magpies except that their eye color is yellow instead of red. They have a very special relationship with the richea honey bush and were featured in a David Attenborough narrated documentary called Life in the episode on plants. The honey bush encases its flowers in individual little pods which protect the flowers from cold weather and icy winds that are common in Tasmania. Unfortunately it also prevents successful pollination of the flowers by insects which cannot access them nor remove the protective outer casing. When warmer weather comes along the flowers produce a nectar which attracts the currawongs. They go about their day pulling off each of the little flower pods to access the nectar which also exposes the flowers to pollinating insects and thus the plant can reproduce.

For other posts from Tasmania please click here, or for birds please click here.

Flower Friday – Pointleaf Manzanita

The bleeding bush - Photograph by Laura Lecce
The bleeding bush – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This post today is not so much a flower but a really interesting shrub I saw while recently hiking in Sedona, Arizona. A shrub commonly named pointleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens), manzanita meaning “little apple” in Spanish. These plants make berries (that look like little apples, hence the name) which are a food source for various wildlife in this dry and harsh environment, and are also harvested to make jam in some parts of Mexico. They have gorgeously twisted, blood-red bark and branches ending in small green leaves. Even more fascinating is that many of them are a tortuous combination of dead (grey) and live (red) parts which look as though blood is streaming down the side of the plant. It is also fitting that an area famous for its red rocks has its very own red shrubs too. Happy weekend everyone!

Tasmanian Pond

Tasmanian Pond - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Tasmanian Pond – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Since Tasmania has gotten such a great reception on my website, I thought I would continue this week with some more photos from the same area. This small pond that I came across on a walk, was clearly the perfect meeting place for numerous wildlife and insects. Looking into the water you could see millions of tadpoles at various stages of metamorphosis, even some having both legs and a tail, almost ready to fully transition into a frog. The grassy bushes were filled with damselflies chasing each other, interlocking, and forming their heart-shaped mating pose. Snaking through the shrubs are the favorite trails of the wombats who live here, the plants trodden down by the weight of these stocky creatures. A few times I was lucky enough to see them out for their late afternoon dinner, and they were quite happy to pose for some photos (see wombats here).

For other posts on Tasmania, please click here.