Thursday, 30 September 2010

Nature’s Greatest Migration

In a thunderous display these migrating wildebeest spectacularly spray water and plumes of dust behind them as they desperately leap across a river in one of the planet’s greatest mass migrations.

For full story and pictures:

In a spectacle that might be described as nature’s biggest “leap of faith” the animals – part of a gradual migration of more than a million wildebeest – tried to cross the river Mara in Kenya.

Nervous at the prospect of stumbling into huge crocodiles hidden under the surface and big cats stalking them from bank-side bushes, the herd produces an awesome explosion of noise and power as they plunge into the unfamiliar watery environment and dash for the opposite side to safety.

The amazing event was caught on camera by Czech wildlife photographer Vaclav Silha, 46, from who visited the Masai Mara reserve in the hope of getting a once-in-a-lifetime close up of the spectacle.

He said: “The river is approximately 20 meters wide, but the width itself is not as dramatic as the steep banks of the river, from where the animals jump and injure themselves before reaching the ground in their desperation.

“The huge herds flood into the area very quickly and begin to bottleneck at the areas where they can get to the river.

“It’s like a huge mass of adrenaline fuelled bodies that is always changing.

“The numbers keep fluctuating and herds relocating along the river and taking their leap of faith at different points.

“The individual herds can contain as many as 10,000 animals and many herds can converge on the river at the same point.

“The whole process is very stressful. It’s like the most chaotic traffic jam you have ever seen.

“Even crocodiles back away as the main body of the herd is passing, through fear they will be trampled to death.

“They crocs wait for the beginning or the end for lonely, injured or young and vulnerable animals.”

The animals live in a continual cycle of following fresh grass with their movements dictated by the weather.

In January and February the females give birth to as many as 40,000 calves within three weeks.

Immediately able to follow their parents on foot, the youngsters join the endless cycle moving between Tanzania and Kenya – crossing rivers in their pass with a safety in numbers approach.

The Mara river stretches into both countries.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Worlds’ Fastest and Slowest Land Animals

The Cheetah has long been recognized as the fastest land animal in the world reaching speeds upwards of 70mph. Pronghorn antelopes, another animal on the savanna, can reach speeds of up to 60 mph. This animal can sustain these speeds much longer than a cheetah.

To determine the fastest animal in the world one has to consider the nature of the race that you are going to ask them run. Once we get speed on land, however, the most important consideration is going to be the distance over which the race is run. Could dogs be the fastest land animals in the world?

Following is an info graphic representing the 32 fastest(and slowest) land animals.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Top 10 Most Dangerous Waves in the World

These days, with super advanced equipment, tow in access, and internet swell tracking, a growing number of surfers are getting rides on incredibly powerful waves.

What makes a wave dangerous? Is sheer size an accurate indicator for how hazardous a surf spot is? Read on for our roundup of the top ten most dangerous waves in the world.

10. Tarqua (Lagos, Nigeria)

The good news is that this beach break located at the entrance to the Lagoon of Iddo in Lagos is often a fun, wedging peak. The bad news is the 60 million litres of raw sewage and tonnes of industrial waste produced by the 8 million inhabitants of Lagos every year that flows out into the ocean. Other hazards include floating carcasses, rubbish and the occasional mugging on the beach.

9. Gringos (Arica, Chile)

Chile has a bunch of waves as equally as heavy and urchin-infested as this one but El Gringo is included in this list because of the damage it did to the pro surfers who surfed it in 2007′s WCT event. There were numerous broken boards, embedded urchin spines and slashed heads. And they surf for a living. Imagine what it’d do to you?

8. Lunada Bay (California, USA)

Perhaps one of the best right handers in California, Lunada is a great performance wave at six feet but it also handles swell right up to 20 feet. It’s not an overly dangerous wave in itself, but the locals are another matter.

Visiting surfers have reported slashed tyres, rocks thrown, fist fights and a seemingly disinterested local police force. You’re on your own here.

7. The Cave (Ericeira, Portugal)

With all the ingredients that a dangerous wave should have, including a shallow reef, urchins and hot-tempered Latino locals, its not surprising The Cave has been described as Europe’s heaviest wave. It was once the preserve of Portugal’s bodyboarding set, but pros like Tiago Pires have been taking it on in recent years – and surviving.

6. Desert Point (Lombok, Indonesia)

This beautiful lefthander peels over very shallow coral somewhere off the dusty island of Lombok. The wave is less dangerous than the hazards of extreme boredom during flat spells (there’s nothing on land but a few run down losemans), overcrowding, contracting malaria and the fact that medical access is hours away.

5. Pipeline (Oahu, Hawaii)

The shallow lava reef that shapes Pipe’s famous round tube is actually full of trenches and bumps -meaning a nasty old time for anyone falling out of the lip from 12 feet above. Which happens with surprisingly regularity, even to the experienced locals.

Perhaps almost as dangerous are the insane crowds that flock to Pipe any time it gets good, with fearless Hawaiians competing with pros, wannabes and tourists for the set waves.

4. Dungeons (Cape Town, South Africa)

It’s not that shallow and it doesn’t break in front of any rocks, but it is located off the tip of South Africa in the freezing Southern Ocean in shark infested waters. Dungeons regularly holds waves up to 70 feet, which is why organisers have chosen to hold the annual Big Wave Africa contest here since 1999.

3. Shipsterns (Tasmania, Australia)

Set along a remote length of pristine Tasmanian coastline, you could almost call this area picturesque if the wave itself wasn’t so ugly.

Raw Antarctic swells come out of deep ocean and jack up into a roaring righthander in front of the cliff which gives the spot its name. The uneven reef causes weird steps and bubbles in the wave, which are always a pleasant surprise when you’re still trying to navigate the drop down the face.

2. Teahupoo (Tahiti)

The scary thing about Teahupoo (pronounced Cho-poo) is that as the swell gets beyond 10 feet the wave doesn’t so much get taller, it just gets more enormous, often looking like the entire ocean is peeling over with the lip.

Falling off here is almost a guarantee of hitting the razor sharp coral reef below, which wouldn’t be so bad if the locals didn’t insist on using fresh Tahitian lime juice to sterilise the reef cuts. Ouch.

1. Cyclops (remote south coast Western Australia)

This ultra square-shaped, below sea level, one-eyed monster tops the list for good reasons. It’s impossible to paddle into on a surfboard and almost unrideable towing behind a jet ski.

If you blow a wave here you’ll be washed straight onto the dry rocks, which is a bummer because the nearest medical help is hours away.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

10 Tasty Fish You Don't Want to Eat

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch offers a list of fish you can enjoy and those you can’t. Many on the list you may or may not enjoy depending on where and how they’re caught. However, there are some you just don’t want to touch. Check out 10 of these tasty fish that you want to let swim in peace.

The Chilean Sea Bass, also known as the Patagonian Toothfish, is a pretty popular fish at the nicer restaurants. However, it’s also one that is not only overfished, but also caught using damaging fishing practices like longlining – which kills sea birds – and bottom trawling – which damages delicate habitat. Plus, the high mercury content is a turn off. So while you might find some recipes that you’d love to try out that call for this fish, substitute it for something like Pacific Halibut or Striped Bass instead.

The Freshwater Eel is better known as Unagi among the sushi lovers, where you can see it draped over the top of a tasty roll covered in a sweet sauce. However, while tempting, you’ll want to skip ordering a roll that features Freshwater Eel. Young eel are caught in the wild and raised on farms, and significantly decreasing the number of young animals in a wild population has sent the species into decline. Not only that, but the method of farming eels pollutes the surrounding areas. This is one sushi option you always want to avoid, but there are sustainable options.

Salmon is known to have some great health benefits and is a wonderful option but only if you’re ordering wild Alaskan. You never want to indulge in farmed Salmon. No matter what your restaurant server says about the farming practices, if they don’t simply say “It’s wild Alaskan,” don’t order it. Farming salmon, as with farming eel, causes pollution in the surrounding environments due to waste and parasites leaking out into the waters next to the farms. Plus, the feeding methods are less than desirable, using fish stocks that put pressure on wild populations or corn, which leads to a paler meat that is then died the pink color consumers recognize. Until more sustainable farming practices are developed, farmed Salmon is on the No list.

This is one ugly fish. Now that you know what it looks like, it might be that much easier to skip ordering it when you see it on menus. Grenadier has a few names, all of which should be avoided: Pacific Roughy, Pacific Grenadier, Giant Grenadier, Shoulderspot Grenadier. The problem is it’s commonly sold as fillets, so you’ll see it pretty often. The issue with these fish is they live long happy lives down at the bottom of the sea, which means they don’t reproduce as often, leaving them vulnerable to overfishing. And because they have deep sea habitats, fishing practices include dangerous longlining and habitat-damaging bottom trawling. Better skip this in favor of US farmed Catfish or Pacific Halibut.

Groupers, or sea bass, are on the avoid list. There are more than 85 species, and Giant Grouper are a favorite fish to see swimming in giant aquarium tanks like those found in Monterey Bay or Long Beach, simply because they’re HUGE! However, grouper species have suffered from overfishing. As with Grenadier, they have long lives and slower reproductive habits, which means their populations take a long time to recover. While you can still get somewhat sustainably caught Grouper in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, even fishing there is due to end in 2011. So be sure to skip over this fish on a menu, and order Alaska Pollock or farmed Rainbow Trout instead.

Monkfish, which also is sold as Goosefish, Anglerfish, or Ankoh, are caught with bottom trawling methods, which we know to be very harsh on habitats. Bottom trawling catches everything in its path, including plants and rock and coral formations that provide needed habitat for hundreds of species. If not being caught via bottom trawling, gill nets are used, which also trap sea turtles and marine mammals. While it is considered a tasty fish, and the liver is considered a delicacy, be sure to pass on this overfished species.

Orange Roughy is considered a yummy meal. However, you never want to indulge. These fish – which also go by the ever so appetizing name “Slimehead” – live to be 100 years old, or older, and don’t reproduce until they’re 20 years old. That means that while more sustainable fishing regulations have been put in to place, we need to wait a long time before the populations recover to a point where we can indulge once in awhile on this popular fish. Until then, it’s on the off limits list.

Sharks, of any species, are in trouble. These ocean predators are being killed in the millions every year – scientists estimate as many as 100 million annually – often to have their fins cut off for soup and the rest of the body tossed right back into the ocean (called shark finning), and also often caught accidentally with gear meant for other fish species. Sharks are vital to maintaining balance in ecosystems, and their numbers are being decimated. If you ever see shark on a menu, don’t eat it. And if you’re tempted, remember that because they’re on the top of the food chain, they contain high levels of mercury.

A lot of Skates are overfished simply by being caught accidentally through bottom trawling. Skates, like a lot of other fish on the don’t-eat list, live long and reproduce slowly, so being overfished means a long recovery time. However, they’re commonly used not only for human consumption but also as bait. Skate is also known as imitation scallop. So if you’re going to eat scallop, make sure it’s not actually a skate.

Flounder, or Sole, caught from the Atlantic ocean is also on the avoid list. While there are a lot of varieties of flatfish in the Atlantic, all of them are off limits simply because they’ve been overfished and need time for their populations to recover. And, being flatfish living on the sands at the bottom of the sea, they’re caught with otter trawling, which disturbs sea floor habitat. If you just have to have sole, go for Pacific varieties. But if possible, skip sole altogether.

Now that you know what you want to avoid, do you want to know what you CAN eat? We have a visual guide to sustainable seafood options so you know which yummy ocean-dwelling critters you can enjoy for dinner. Along with that, you could also add tools to your phone like FishPhone that help you make sustainable choices while on the go.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

10 Geological Wonders You Didn’t Know

10. The Wave (between Arizona and Utah – USA)

A red-rock stunner on the border of Arizona and Utah, The Wave is made of 190-million-year-old sand dunes that have turned to rock. This little-knownformation is accessible only on foot via a three-mile hike and highly regulated.

9. Antelope Canyon (Arizona – USA)

The most visited and photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest, the Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona. It includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as Upper Antelope Canyon –or “The Crack”– and LowerAntelope Canyon –or “The Corkscrew.”

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse’ bighanilini, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” Lower Antelope Canyonis Hasdestwazi, or “spiral rock arches.” Both are located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.

8. Great Blue Hole (Belize)

Part of the Lighthouse Reef System, The Great Blue Hole lies approximately 60 miles off the mainland out of Belize City. A large, almost perfectly circular hole approximately one quarter of a mile (0.4 km) across, it’s one of the most astounding dive sites to be found anywhere on earth. Inside this hole, the water is 480 feet (145 m) deep and it is the depth of water which gives the deep blue color that causes such structures throughout the world to be known as “blue holes.”

7. Crystal Cave of the Giants (Mexico)

Found deep inside a mine in southern Chihuahua Mexico, these crystals were formed in a natural cave totally enclosed in bedrock. A geode full of spectacular crystals as tall as pine trees, and in some cases greater in circumference, they are a translucent gold and silver in color and come in many incredible forms and shapes. The Crystal Cave of the Giants was discovered within the same limestone body that hosts the silver-zinc-lead ore bodies exploited by the mine and it was probably dissolved by the same hydrothermal fluids that deposited the metals with the gypsum being crystallized during the waning stages of mineralization.

6. Eye of the Sahara (Mauritania)

This spectacular landform in Mauritania in the southwestern part of theSahara desert is so huge with a diameter of 30 miles that it is visible from space. Called Richat Structure –or the Eye of the Sahara– the Theformation was originally thought to be caused by a meteorite impact but now geologists believe it is a product of uplift and erosion. The cause of its circular shape is still a mystery.

5. Blue Lake Cave (Brazil)

Mato Grosso do Sul region in Brazil (and especially the quiet town of Bonito) boasts many marvelous underground lakes: Gruta do Lago Azul, Gruta do Mimoso, Aquário Natural. The world famous “Gruta do Lago Azul” (Blue Lake Cave) is a natural monument whose interior is formed by stalactites, stalagmites and a huge and wonderful blue lake. The beauty of the lake is something impressive. The Blue Lake Cave has a big variety of geologicalformation but impresses mainly for the deep blue colored water of its inside lake.

4. Giants Causeway (Ireland)

An area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the Giants Causewayis a result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Located on the north-east coast of Northern Ireland, most of its columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 meters (36 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 meters thick in places. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.

3. Hell Gate (Turkmenistan)

Called by locals The Door to Hell, this place in Turkmenistan is situated near the small town of Darvaz. When geologists were drilling for gas, 35 years ago, they suddenly found an underground cavern that was so big, all the drilling site with all the equipment and camps got deep deep under the ground. None dared to go down there because the cavern was filled with gas, so they ignited it so that no poisonous gas could come out of the hole, and since then, it has been burning. Nobody knows how many tons of excellent gas has been burned for all those years but it just seems to be infinite.

2. Wave Rock (Australia)

The Wave Rock is a natural rock formation located in western Australia. It derives its name from the fact that it is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave. The total outcrop covers several hectares; the “wave” part of the rock is about 15 meters high and approximately 110 meters long. One aspect of Wave Rock rarely shown on photographs is the retaining wall about halfway up the rock. This follows the contours and allows rainwater to be collected in a dam. It was constructed in 1951 by the Public Works Department, and such walls are common on many similar rocks in the wheatbelt.

1. Chocolate Hills (Philippines)

Composed of around 1,268 perfectly cone-shaped hills of about the same size spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi), this highly unusual geological formation, called Chocolate Hills, is located in Bohol, Philippines. There are a number of hypotheses regarding theformation of the hills. These include simple limestone weathering, sub-oceanic volcanism, the uplift of the seafloor and a more recent theory which maintains that as an ancient active volcano self-destructed, it spewed huge blocks of stone which were then covered with limestone and later thrust forth from the ocean bed.

World's Biggest, Strongest Spider Webs Found

River-Spanning Spider Web

A river-spanning spider web dwarfs a park ranger in Madagascar in 2008. Made of the world's strongest known biological material, the web is the product of a new species, the Darwin's bark spider, which makes the world's largest webs of any single spider, new studies say.

Zoologist Ingi Agnarsson and colleagues have found Darwin's bark spider webs as wide as 82 feet (25 meters)—about as long as two city buses.

In Andasibe-Mantadia National Park (pictured), "the park rangers knew about them, and I think they've shown them to tourists for a while," said Agnarsson, of the University of Puerto Rico.

But the Darwin's bark spider and its record-breaking webs were unknown to science until they were documented by the team, whose findings appear this week in the Journal of Arachnology and PLoS ONE.

Darwin's Bark Spider Web

An approximately three-foot-wide (meter-wide) Darwin's bark spider web hangs above a river in Madagascar.

Though the new species' webs are overall the world's largest, other spiders might exist that create larger orbs—the spiral at the center of the web—according to study co-author Todd Blackledge, a biologist at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Despite spinning webs of Spider-Man-like size and strength, the Darwin's bark spider uses them to feed mainly on small fry—insects such as mayflies and dragonflies, according to the team, which included Blackledge, the University of Puerto Rico's Agnarsson, and Matjaž Kuntner of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

"In our dreams, we were hoping for bats or birds or something," Agnarsson joked.

Female Darwin's Bark Spider

The weavers of the largest Darwin's bark spider webs are almost always female, such as this spider pictured in 2008, said Agnarsson, a grantee of the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration.

Juvenile males also weave spider webs, but once they become adults, they abandon this behavior and instead direct their energies solely to sex.

For survival, the Darwin's bark spider relies in part on its mottled, jagged appearance, which camouflages the spider against trees and—along with Charles Darwin—inspired its name. The species is known to exist only on the island of Madagascar, off Africa's southeastern coast.

Giant Web, Snack-Size Fare

Dozens of mayflies hang helpless in a Darwin's bark spider's web in 2008.

Darwin's bark spider webs are made out of two basic kinds of silk, Agnarsson explained.

"Dragline" silk is used to create the supporting strands that anchor the endpoints of an orb web to tree branches overhanging rivers or lakes and forms the radial threads in the web. Stretchier, stickier silk is used to create the spiral that captures prey.

When an insect flies into the web, it becomes stuck, and its struggles causes the silk lines to vibrate, alerting the Darwin's bark spider.

The spider then crawls to the captured insect, and envelops it in a silk cocoon to eat at its leisure.

Unlike most spiders, Darwin's bark spiders will sometimes wrap several insect corpses into a single cocoon, creating a snack pack for later consumption.

Towering Achievement

Earlier this year, study team member Matjaž Kuntner, of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, uses a tape measure to determine how high up the center of a Darwin's bark spider web is.

Unlike their webs, Darwin's bark spiders aren't very big: Not counting its legs, an adult is usually less than 0.8 inch (2 centimeters) long, Agnarsson said.

An analysis of the Darwin's bark spider's silk indicates it's the toughest biological material discovered to date.

"'Tough' means the ability to absorb energy before breaking, and results from a combination of strength and elasticity," Agnarsson explained.

The Darwin’s bark spider's silk "is about the strength of steel but much, much tougher, because it also stretches. It's many times tougher than even Kevlar, which is one of the best man-made materials."

Behind the Web

Scientists in 2010 observe the web of an unnamed species that may be a close relative of the Darwin's bark spider and also happens to live in Madagascar's Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.

The central orb structure of this spider's web is about three feet (one meter) wide. By contrast, the orb of a Darwin's bark spider web can be nearly seven feet (two meters) across, though most are much smaller.

Darwin's Bark Booby Trap

One of the first things Agnarsson's team wondered after learning about the Darwin's bark spider was exactly how it creates webs wide enough to span bodies of water, such as this river in Madagascar's Andasibe National Park, pictured in 2010.

One of the rangers "said the spiders do a Tarzan swing, like they hang down on the silk and swing over," Agnarsson said. "We really, really tried to verify that, but it turned out to be false."

Since then, team member Matjaz Gregorič has discovered the spider's trick and will describe it in a future science paper.


Agnarsson, shown behind a Darwin's bark spider web in 2010, hopes that studies of the species will help shed light on mysteries of spider silk.

"Almost all of the spider-silk research has focused on one or two spider species," he said, referring to golden orb weavers and spiders of the Agriope genus. "Our interest is in looking much more broadly across the diversity of spiders.

"There's no reason to think that the two exemplar species that most researchers happen to be studying are among those that make the best silk of all the spiders."


Top 10 Devil’s Plants

What looks red all over and has a long tongue and tail, a pair of horns on his head and holds a huge fork? This creature is very bad that’s why he was banished to a very hot place called hell. The Devil has always been depicted as a creature looking like this. Any of the description above was probably how these plants get their names.

Devil’s weed

The devil’s weed or datura stramonium plant. The tropane alkaloids in the plant can cause powerful visual and audio hullucinations in those who eat it and leave them in a trance-like or delirious state which can last for several days. The plant can also cause seizures and death.

Devil’s ivy

Also known as the Golden Pothos and scientifically termed as Epipiremnum Aureum, the Devil’s ivy is a beautiful vine plant with leaves that are marbled and golden in color as per the name. Even if this plant is not taken care off, it thrives on and continues growing. This plant acts as an excellent natural anti-pollutant against common pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. However, you should take care that this plant is not ingested in any way even by your own pet dog.

Devil’s Tongue

Also known as konjak, konjaku, voodoo lily, snake palm, or elephant yam, is a perennial plant that has been used in China and Japan for over 2,000 years. The starchy tuber, a member of the yam family, is not unlike taro, hence its Chinese name mo yu, which means ‘devil’s taro’. In Japan it is known as ‘devil’s tongue’ or konnyaku. Through a complicated process similar to the making of tofu, the large brown roots are peeled, boiled, mashed and then mixed with dissolved limestone to coagulate.

Devil’s Club

Also called Devil’s walking stick and for good reason…the plant is covered with sharp spiny thorns. Also called Echinopanax horridum. It is in the Araliaceae (or Aralia) family and very closely related to Ginsing. The berries are poisonous but have been used to kill lice by mashing them up and applying the paste to the hair. This also treats dandruff and makes the hair shiny.

Devil’s Beggar-tick

Devil’s Beggar-tick is one of several species of beggar-tick, plants with seeds that “hitch a ride” on animals and clothing. Each fruit is loaded with tiny flat seeds. Each seed has two barbs (like a fishhook) which will catch on anything soft that brushes against it. Most often seeds grab onto animal fur or a person’s clothing. Because of the plant’s height, people usually end up picking seeds, sometimes called “hitchhikers,” from their socks. Seeds are also eaten by ducks and other birds.

Creeping Devil

Creeping Devil (Stenocereus eruca) is one of the most distinctive cacti, a member of the relatively small genus Stenocereus. Creeping Devil lies on the ground and grows at one end while the other end slowly dies, with a succession of new roots developing on the underside of the stem. This traveling chain of growth gives rise to the name eruca, which means “caterpillar” as well as the common name Creeping Devil.

Devil’s Tongue Hot Pepper

The peppers are beginning to turn some beautiful colors. This plant is called the ‘Devils Tongue’. Devils Tongue – extremely hot; Habanero Elongated Type; 2 to 3 inches long by 1 to 1.5 inches wide; matures from green to golden yellow; pendant pods; green leaves; 30 to 36 inches tall; Late Season; this pepper is outrageously hot!

Devil’s Claw

Devil’s claw does not have an odor, but it contains substances that make it taste bitter. It is a leafy perennial with branching roots and shoots. It has secondary roots, called tubers, that grow out of the main roots. The roots and tubers are used for medicinal purposes. Devil’s Claw – used to treat inflammation, relieve pain and swelling, as well as, treat water retention. Devil’s Claw has also been used for liver, gall bladder and kidney ailments, lymphatic system toxicity, diabetes, respiratory ailments and indigestion.

Devil’s Tongue Barrel

The Devil’s Tongue Barrel or Crows Claw Cactus is quite popular because it blooms very early with pinkish purple or yellow flowers. They come in late autumn to early winter and need moderate amount of bright sunlight to form. It got its name from the bigger thorn that grows in the center of all the thorn rosettes.

Devil’s Backbone

Devil Backbone is also known as the Variegated Devil’s Backbone, Redbird Cactus, Slipper Flower and Jacob’s Ladder. The botanical name is Pedilanthus tithymaloides ‘Variegatus’ and it is a most unusual plant. Although it looks like it should be growing in an aquarium, the common name of Devil’s backbone is apt for this plant, since the stems of each alternate leaf bend left or right, producing a mischievous zigzag effect. The fleshy stems and leaves of the Pedilanthus contain an acrid milky sap which can cause skin irritation and is especially harmful to eyes and open cuts. It is difficult to wash off and will cause an upset stomach, if ingested.


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