Hot Chili Pepper Chemistry

The English word pepper is ambiguous. Botanically it could be refer to plants that produce black powdered pepper. The angiosperms (flowering plants) who serve as a source of that spice belong to the order Piperales and to the 3600-member family Piperaceae. (Kings play chess only for goodness' sake is a mnemonic for remembering the order of... Continue Reading →

Deserving Fame: the Trembling Aspen

People who grow plum trees in their backyards or farms realize that these plants not only reproduce sexually by means of their fragrant flowers, but they can also establish a ramet. A ramet is a colony of clones produced by roots that surface from the ground and which then develop into full trees. Barring mutations, the... Continue Reading →

Why Plants Don’t Get Sunburnt

For some reason, it's a widespread belief that watering plants in full sun damages plants. Do droplets really act as tiny magnifying glasses, as some people claim? Rather than digging into professional research immediately to reveal the truth, how would we go out and find out for ourselves? If I go ahead and use a... Continue Reading →

Marcel Laurin Woodland Park

The Marcel Laurin Woodland Park is all too easy to under-appreciate. Drive or cycle by it too quickly, and it could easily go unnoticed because of its size--it's not one of Montreal's largest regional wooded areas. But once inside the woods, one realises that it is a special part of Montreal's parks and protected woodlands, which combine to hold... Continue Reading →

Cherry Juice-Chemistry in the Kitchen

What did I just photograph? It's a "volcanic" island of baking soda in a sea of tart cherry juice. In a nutshell, there are acidic ions within tart cherry juice and they're reacting with the baking soda's bicarbonate ion, creating water and bubbles of carbon dioxide. But there's more. Excess bicarbonate also changes the structure of the cherry's... Continue Reading →

What Flowers Do With Light

What does a flower do with light? In a nutshell, some of the light that reaches a flower's petals is absorbed; some is transmitted through its anatomy and the rest is reflected towards the sky and towards the eyes of pollinators and admirers. But from such a summary, a number of questions can germinate. How does light get absorbed... Continue Reading →

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