Climate change affects are almost always exclusively bad, but it’s emerged that one specific result from the planet heating up has encouraged an ancient plant to re-emerge in the UK.
By no means are we suggesting the devastating impact of what humans are doing to the world to be a good thing, yet fertile cycads plants, which were around during the time period closer to when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, are now making a return, thanks to experts.
The plant used to grow naturally in the UK around 60 million years ago, and hasn’t been seen since – that is, until now. Due to the increased planetary temperate, it has encouraged the fern-like species to make a return to our shores, after gardeners cultivated the process.
This specific species of plant has been uncovered in fossil form in places like Alaska and Antarctica, but has been unable to grow and thrive over here due to cooler temperatures. However, with the planet’s core temperature now heating up over recent times, the plant that’s accustomed tropical and subtropical conditions has been able to grow and produce both male and female cones.
Cycas revoluta is the species of cone produced, which has been cultivated at the Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight, where the average temperate is higher than the rest of the United Kingdom.
‘This is the first female cone out of doors in the United Kingdom,’ Ventnor announced online earlier this month. ‘This presents us with an exciting opportunity to transfer pollen and generate seeds for the first time in the United Kingdom for 60 million years.’
Helped by the repeated European heatwaves that have taken place over the past few years, the gardeners saw an opportunity and the Cycas was able to thrive.
When grown in the wild, Cycas are usually pollenated by beetles but – and minds out of the gutter – staff here have been able to fertilise the seeds manually.
As mentioned, the feat is bittersweet, after Ventnor’s curator Chris Kidd reminded us: ‘This could be seen as exciting for British gardeners.’
‘But if you can see the climate changing so dramatically in such a short range of time, it’s very minor when you consider what could be happening elsewhere in wider agriculture, horticulture, and socially, for populations on the planet,’ he shared with CNN.
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Ventnor Botanical Garden
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