Plants At Work

Why Every Desk and Office Should Have Plants.

Everyone With A Desk Job Should Have Plants.

Alexander C. Kaufman 

Associate Business Editor, The Huffington Post

At 9 years old, I dreamed of being a botanist.

My bedroom was filled with plants. Long tendrils of glossy-leafed pothos vines snaked across my dresser, and a 5-foot-tall yucca tree bent over the foot of my bed toward the window. When my grandparents visited, they took my two younger siblings to Toys R Us to each pick out a toy. Afterward, we went to Home Depot, where I got to pick out a new ficus tree or an asparagus fern, maybe even a succulent. Until about the time I turned into an angsty, pubescent teenager, I delighted in gardening with my mother. A spider plant and a little potted cactus.

I wound up becoming a journalist instead. Still, I am happiest -- and, I've found, I do my best writing -- when surrounded by greenery. As I type this now, my desk is fringed with a little Peruvian apple cactus, a spider plant, a milk cactus and a big, hardy jade plant. My little workstation garden might actually make me a more fruitful employee (or so I tell my editors). And now there's research that seems to back that up.

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Three Plants That Will Help You Grow Air!

Kamal Meattle

Business Owner And Activist

 We all know that plants can improve our air quality, but which plants are best or just how much they can help? Not only can a few specific plants improve our lives at home, but they can also be used to drastically improve air quality in buildings in some of our world’s most polluted cities.

Kamal Meattle, a green energy specialist from New Delhi, India, recommends three plants to grow your own fresh air indoors. These are not specialized plants that are hard to come by. All three of these plants are very common and familiar to most of us. In fact, it’s likely that you’ve walked by all three of these plants the last time you were in a nearby nursery or greenhouse.

Areca Palm, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens

Meattle recommends this for the living room. All plants convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to oxygen (O), and this plant does most of its conversion during the day. Meattle recommends four shoulder-height plants per person. Palms can be tricky to keep alive and looking good, however. This one requires bright indirect light and heavy watering.

Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, Sansevieria trifasciata

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue absorbs larger quantities of carbon dioxide at night than most plants, and converts it to oxygen during the day. This is a perfect plant for the bedroom, where you are breathing out your own carbon dioxide over a full night’s sleep. You need six to eight waist-high plants per person. This plant is commonly found in nurseries and often overlooked precisely because it seems so common and pedestrian.

Money Plant, Epipremnum aureum

Meattle calls this “The Specialist Plant.” It is good at filtering out volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde. This plant is commonly know as the Pothos, and is a popular houseplant which can be reproduced easily. It is hardy and easily tended, though it is listed as toxic to cats and dogs by the ASPCA

How More Lawn Restrictions Could Remake The California Landscape.

Matt Stevens

Reporter, L.A. Times

First it was existing lawns, with Gov. Jerry Brown leading the way in urging Californians to rip out swaths of green to save vast amounts of water.

Now state regulators have their sights set on grass that hasn't even been planted.

The California Water Commission is scheduled to consider new rules Wednesday that would significantly slash the amount of water that can be used by landscapes surrounding newly built houses, businesses and schools.

Experts say that the changes, which if approved could take effect by Dec. 1, could signal a significant shift in how residents envision their perfect California home.

"It will be a far more interesting place than this monoculture of grass," said Esther Margulies, an instructor in the landscape architecture program at USC. "The attraction to subdivisions with pristine lawns has changed.… People are a lot more sophisticated and urbane … [and] much more likely to let go."

Brown's historic April 1 drought order required regulators to revise the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance to increase water efficiency and limit the areas that can be covered in turf.

Under the revised ordinance, grass would be all but banned in landscapes of new commercial, industrial and institutional buildings and could consume only about 25% of a homeowner's combined front, back and sideyards.

 The changes would apply to new construction with landscape areas larger than 500 square feet and also to existing landscapes larger than 2,500 square feet that undergo complex renovations. Exemptions are included for recreational areas, and landscapes irrigated with recycled water.

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Geologist Discovers Plant That May Only Grow On Top Of Soil Laden With Diamonds.

Nick Yisser,

Editor, Huffington Post

There she grows!

 A picky plant found in West Africa may grow only on top of mineral deposits often loaded with diamonds, according to research soon to be published in the journal Economic GeologyStephen Haggerty, a professor at Florida International University in Miami and the chief exploration officer of Youssef Diamond Mining Company, said the discovery could be a game changer for the region.

The thorny plant, Pandanus candelabrum, only grows atop deposits of kimberlite, a type of volcanic rock found in giant underground "columns" around the world. Diamonds, formed hundreds of kilometers deep by intense heat and pressure, are pushed upward with the kimberlite during subterranean volcanic activity, resulting in gem-rich veins of rock.

Until recently, there was no reliable way to locate these concentrated deposits of diamonds, which can be just a few acres in size and buried in thick, remote parts of the jungle.

Haggerty made the discovery in the bush of Liberia after venturing to the country in 2010 to continue research he began in the 1970s. He told The Huffington Post that Liberia, infamous for its trade in so-called "blood diamonds," had extensive mining operations in place, but the miners had no real way of knowing where to look for the gems. The region is covered in dense forest "so inaccessible, you can't see more than 10 feet in front of you," he said.

 Moving through the jungle and taking soil samples with an 8-foot steel rod, Haggerty eventually discovered a kimberlite "pipe" about 500 by 50 meters, or 1640 by 164 feet.Four diamonds, two of them around 20 carats apiece, have already been found in the soil above the pipe, according to Science magazine.  Aside from the pipe itself, Haggerty's most interesting observation was the discovery of Pandanus candelabrum, which thrives on a unique mixture of minerals found in the kimberlite soil. "For reasons that we don't yet know," he said, P. candelabrum appears to grow only atop these diamond-rich deposits.

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Orchid Fossil Quells Evolutionary Quarrel

Marlowe Hood

Editor, AFP News

PARIS: A bee trapped by a glob of sap inside a come-hither orchid up to 20 million years ago has rewritten the evolutionary tale of a flower with the most fanatical following of any plant in the world.

In a study published on Wednesday, biologists say the most recent common ancestor to all modern-day orchids lived in the twilight of the dinosaurs, in the Late Cretaceous period some 80 million years ago.  The finding settles a century-old hothouse debate. Previous estimates, based on mainly circumstantial evidence, ranged from 26 to 110 million years ago.  What killed the dinosaurs - wiped out, apparently when an asteroid whacked into Earth - may also have helped orchids.

The flowers spread dramatically across the globe shortly after this mass extinction and just before the rise of mammals, say the team, led by Harvard researcher Santiago Ramirez.  The Orchidaceae family is the largest in the plant kingdom, numbering at least 25,000 species.

Hundreds more are brought to light every year to feed a lucrative market, and orchid hunters are known for venturing into remote, often dangerous jungle in search of ever more exotic gems.

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