Thursday, January 28, 2010

Winter Days Brighten with Amaryllis flowers

Amaryllis flowers are big, bright, and bold. They're also easy to grow.
This is the time of year that if you live in a cold climate, you're longing for some color (besides brown and white).

Sure, you can bring home some new houseplants or buy some potted tulips at the supermarket. But if you want to make a bold splash, try an amaryllis. This tropical Americas native grows from a huge bulb (many are about the size of a mango) and has a stalk and flower to match.

Colors range from many shades of red, pink, and orange to white -- and combinations of those (red and white is a personal favorite).

The easiest way to get started with amaryllis is to buy an already potted, already growing bulb. You'll find them at home stores, garden centers, florists, nurseries, and the floral departments of grocery stores.

If possible, choose one that has big flower buds on it that have not yet opened. (If the flowers are already open, you won't get to enjoy them for as long as if you buy the plant with buds.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Teleflora's Infamously Sarcastic Talking Flowers to Super Bowl

Teleflora, the world's leading flower delivery service, offering only hand-arranged, hand-delivered floral bouquets, will air the Valentine's Day themed 30-second spot during the game's second quarter. The "naughty" animated flowers-in-a-box is the personified antithesis of the Teleflora difference.

The lighthearted spot is staged in an office setting and features the "star" flower arrangement for Valentine's Day -- the "Red Hot Bouquet. Teleflora is also going to offer an e-card service that takes the flowers-in-a-box vs. its hand-arranged bouquets online.

You will be able to choose between a nice and naughty e-card. In the nice execution, you can send someone a sincere message along with a beautiful, virtual Teleflora bouquet. In the naughty version, the spirit of the talking flowers comes alive with your or pre-selected sarcastic messages that are "delivered" with un-arranged, uncut, sloppily packed flowers in a box. With each naughty or nice e-card, Teleflora is offering the sender and recipient a discount code from

Just like last year, Teleflora will be featuring our Super Bowl for Geeks Guide for the Super Bowl 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Philadelphia International Flower Show

The Philadelphia Flower show is just a month away, a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.

The American Bus Association has announced that the 2010 Philadelphia International Flower Show, “Passport to the World,” has been designated as one of the “Top 100 Events in North America for 2010” by an elite tourism industry selection committee. The Flower Show is described as an internationally renowned event in the supplement to the ABA’s Destination magazine.

A 28-foot-high hot-air balloon, covered with more than 79,000 dried flowers, will greet visitors to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It will tower over the Explorer's Garden, a display of exotic plants that recall the flower show's original purpose: to highlight new plants. And that's only the beginning. There is food, drink, fashion, entertainment, garden seminars and some of the best shopping anywhere.

The 2010 Flower Show, the oldest and largest indoor flower show in the world, will take visitors on an exotic journey to dozens of destinations around the globe. The massive Showcase Gardens will transport visitors to an elaborate Indian wedding; a blooming Dutch street scene; the natural and tribal wonders of South Africa; the Amazon jungle of Brazil; the botanical gardens of Singapore; and the rugged beauty of New Zealand.

Garden Variety will be describing plans for the flower show over the next month, culminating in a preview of the show before it officially opens on Sunday Feb. 28. The show will continue through Sunday, March 7.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Organic florist creates seasonal beauty for Miss Bristol 2010

The Miss Bristol 2010 pageant looks set to bloom with British flowers as local organic florists Bella & Fifi create a cornucopia of floral delights especially for the event.

The Bristol florists, whose award winning designs have been featured in national newspapers, will be creating the floral decorations for the pageant. Among the themes of the Miss Bristol event will be sustainability and environmental awareness. One of the costumes that entrants will design will contain recycled materials, as the competition will be used to raise awareness of Green issues.

This struck a real chord with the Bella & Fifi, as they are recognised for their displays which only feature local, organic and seasonal flowers. Floral designer Vashti said ‘It’s great to be involved with such a glamorous event, especially as it will be reminding people how important it is to try to be as environmentally friendly as possible.’

She went on to say ‘We will be creating a really special selection of displays for Miss Bristol. They flowers will be seasonal, classic, and will complement the elegant beauty of the surroundings at The Grand.’

Stinky 'corpse flower' blooms at Milwaukee museum

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A huge flower known for its gag-inducing odor has started blooming at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

The exotic flower is called a titan arum. But it's better known as a corpse flower because it gives off an odor of rotting flesh.
The stinky smell helps it attract carrion beetles and sweat bees in its native rain forests of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

WISN-TV reports that the seven-foot-tall flower started blooming — and reeking — over the weekend.

Corpse flowers can bloom as infrequently as once every 15 years, and then only for a matter of days. They can weigh as much as 170 pounds, reach nine feet in height and open to a diameter of three or four feet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Amorphophallus Titanum- Corpse Flower

Amorphophallus (from Ancient Greek amorphos, "without form, misshapen" + phallos, "penis", referring to the shape of the prominent spadix) is a large genus of some 170 tropical and subtropical tuberous herbaceous plants from the Arum family (Araceae). A few species are edible as "famine foods" after careful preparation to remove irritating chemicals.

The Amorphophallus Titanum has been recorded as blooming fewer than fifteen times nationally but each time it blooms thousands of people stand in line to view this gigantic wonder.

The average height of the inflorescence of this plant is six and a half feet, although the tallest one on record was a whooping 10.75 foot. Once the tuber has matured underground, it will begin to produce a huge aroid bloom that generally is taller than most humans. The spadix grows rapidly once it begins, although in the beginning the spadix will be completely enclosed by the spath and bracts. The species Amorphophallus titanum, corpse flower or titan arum, is the world's largest inflorescence. Amorphophallus konjac tubers are used to make konnyaku ,a Japanese thickening agent and edible jelly containing glucomannan.


These are typical lowland plants, growing in the tropical and subtropical zones of the paleotropics, from West Africa to the Pacific Islands. None of them are found in the Americas although a remarkably similar but not closely related genus, Dracontium, has evolved there. Most species are endemic. They grow preferentially on disturbed grounds, such as secondary forests.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

World's Largest Flower

The largest flower in the world, the rafflesia arnoldi, weighs 7 kg (15 pounds) and grows only on the Sumatra island of Indonesia. Its petals grow to metre (1,6 feet) long and 2,5 cm (1 inch) thick.

There are 16 species of rafflesia, found in Sumatra, Malaysia and Borneo. The species is named after the naturalist Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded the British colony of Singapore in 1819. Raffles discovered the parasitic plant with his friend Dr. Joseph Arnold during their travels in May 1818. The rafflesia arnoldi is named after the two.

However fascinating and beautiful the rafflesia arnoldi may be, it is also called "
corpse flower" and really reeks, the latter to attract flies for pollination.

Of about 200,000 kinds of flowers in the world, the smallest is the
duckweed, which can only be seen with a microscope.


A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological function of a flower is to mediate the union of male sperm with female ovum in order to produce seeds. The process begins with pollination, is followed by fertilization, leading to the formation and dispersal of the seeds. For the higher plants, seeds are the next generation, and serve as the primary means by which individuals of a species are dispersed across the landscape. The grouping of flowers on a plant is called the inflorescence.

In addition to serving as the reproductive organs of flowering plants, flowers have long been admired and used by humans, mainly to beautify their environment but also as a source of food.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Colossal Black Hole Implicated in Stellar Destruction

New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Magellan telescopes suggest that a dense stellar remnant has been ripped apart by a black hole a thousand times as massive as the Sun. If confirmed, this discovery would be a cosmic double play: it would be strong evidence for an intermediate mass black hole, which has been a hotly debated topic, and would mark the first time such a black hole has been caught tearing a star apart.

This scenario is based on Chandra observations, which revealed an unusually luminous source of X-rays in a dense cluster of old stars, and optical observations that showed a peculiar mix of elements associated with the X-ray emission. Taken together, a case can be made that the X-ray emission is produced by debris from a disrupted white dwarf star that is heated as it falls towards a massive black hole. The optical emission comes from debris further out that is illuminated by these X-rays.

The intensity of the X-ray emission places the source in the "ultraluminous X-ray source" or ULX category, meaning that it is more luminous than any known stellar X-ray source, but less luminous than the bright X-ray sources (active galactic nuclei) associated with supermassive black holes in the nuclei of galaxies. The nature of ULXs is a mystery, but one suggestion is that some ULXs are black holes with masses between about a hundred and several thousand times that of the Sun, a range intermediate between stellar-mass black holes and supermassive black holes located in the nuclei of galaxies.

This ULX is in a globular cluster, a very old and crowded conglomeration of stars. Astronomers have suspected that globular clusters could contain intermediate-mass black holes, but conclusive evidence for this has been elusive.

"Astronomers have made cases for stars being torn apart by supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies before, but this is the first good evidence for such an event in a globular cluster," said Jimmy Irwin of the University of Alabama who led the study.

Irwin and his colleagues obtained optical spectra of the object using the Magellan I and II telescopes in Las Campanas, Chile. These data reveal emission from gas rich in oxygen and nitrogen but no hydrogen, a rare set of signals from globular clusters. The physical conditions deduced from the spectra suggest that the gas is orbiting a black hole of at least 1,000 solar masses. The abundant amount of oxygen and absence of hydrogen indicate that the destroyed star was a white dwarf, the end phase of a solar-type star that has burned its hydrogen leaving a high concentration of oxygen. The nitrogen seen in the optical spectrum remains an enigma.

"We think these unusual signatures can be explained by a white dwarf that strayed too close to a black hole and was torn apart by the extreme tidal forces," said coauthor Joel Bregman of the University of Michigan.

Theoretical work suggests that the tidal disruption-induced X-ray emission could stay bright for more than a century, but it should fade with time. So far, the team has observed there has been a 35 percent in X-ray emission from 2000 to 2008.

The ULX in this study is located in NGC 1399, an elliptical galaxy about 65 million light years from Earth.

Irwin presented these results at the 215th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, DC. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Suzaku Finds "Fossil" Fireballs from Supernovae

In the supernova remnant W49B, Suzaku found another fossil fireball. It detected X-rays produced when heavily ionized iron atoms recapture an electronStudies of two supernova remnants using the Japan-U.S. Suzaku observatory have revealed never-before-seen embers of the high-temperature fireballs that immediately followed the explosions. Even after thousands of years, gas within these stellar wrecks retain the imprint of temperatures 10,000 times hotter than the sun's surface.

"This is the first evidence of a new type of supernova remnant -- one that was heated right after the explosion," said Hiroya Yamaguchi at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Japan.

A supernova remnant usually cools quickly due to rapid expansion following the explosion. Then, as it sweeps up tenuous interstellar gas over thousands of years, the remnant gradually heats up again.

Capitalizing on the sensitivity of the Suzaku satellite, a team led by Yamaguchi and Midori Ozawa, a graduate student at Kyoto University, detected unusual features in the X-ray spectrum of IC 443, better known to amateur astronomers as the Jellyfish Nebula.

The remnant, which lies some 5,000 light-years away in the constellation Gemini, formed about 4,000 years ago. The X-ray emission forms a roughly circular patch in the northern part of the visible nebulosity.

Suzaku's X-ray Imaging Spectrometers (XISs) separate X-rays by energy in much the same way as a prism separates light into a rainbow of colors. This allows astronomers to tease out the types of processes responsible for the radiation.

Some of the X-ray emission in the Jellyfish Nebula arises as fast-moving free electrons sweep near the nuclei of atoms. Their mutual attraction deflects the electrons, which then emit X-rays as they change course. The electrons have energies corresponding to a temperature of about 12 million degrees Fahrenheit (7 million degrees Celsius).

Several bumps in the Suzaku spectrum were more puzzling. "These structures indicate the presence of a large amount of silicon and sulfur atoms from which all electrons have been stripped away," Yamaguchi said. These "naked" nuclei produce X-rays as they recapture their lost electrons.

But removing all electrons from a silicon atom requires temperatures higher than about 30 million degrees F (17 million C); hotter still for sulfur atoms. "These ions cannot form in the present-day remnant," Yamaguchi explained. "Instead, we're seeing ions created by the enormous temperatures that immediately followed the supernova."

The team suggests that the supernova occurred in a relatively dense environment, perhaps in a cocoon of the star's own making. As a massive star ages, it sheds material in the form of an outflow called a stellar wind and creates a cocoon of gas and dust. When the star explodes, the blast wave traverses the dense cocoon and heats it to temperatures as high as 100 million degrees F (55 million C), or 10,000 times hotter than the sun's surface.

Eventually, the shock wave breaks out into true interstellar space, where the gas density can be as low as a single atom per cubic centimeter -- about the volume of a sugar cube. Once in this low-density environment, the young supernova remnant rapidly expands.

The expansion cools the electrons, but it also thins the remnant's gas so much that collisions between particles become rare events. Because an atom may take thousands of years to recapture an electron, the Jellyfish Nebula's hottest ions remain even today, the astronomers reported in the Nov. 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

"Suzaku sees the Jellyfish's hot heart," Ozawa said.

The team has already identified another fossil fireball in the supernova remnant known as W49B, which lies 35,000 light-years away in the constellation Aquila. In the Nov. 20 edition of The Astrophysical Journal, Ozawa, Yamaguchi and colleagues report X-ray emission from iron atoms that are almost completely stripped of electrons. Forming these ions requires temperatures in excess of 55 million degrees F (30 million C)-- nearly twice the observed temperature of the remnant's electrons.

Launched on July 10, 2005, Suzaku was developed at the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), which is part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in collaboration with NASA and other Japanese and U.S. institutions.

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