In abandoned places around the Earth, you might see Nature taking over buildings, telephone booths, and any other evidence of human life. In most cases, the first and fastest plants to take advantage of human absence are the crafty perennial vines called kudzu.
Click start to play today’s plant-themed Word Search. Can you find all the vines, shrubs, trees and plants?
Known as “the vine that ate the South” in the US, kudzu is a creeping, climbing plant that grows out of control quickly – at the alarming rate of one foot per day. Some mature vines are as long as 100 feet!
Kudzu is native to Japan and southeast China, but was introduced in the US during an international expo in 1876, where it was promoted as an ornamental plant with sweet-smelling blooms and sturdy vines. Little did they know that the plant would soon become America’s most notorious weed.
But in today’s Word Search, there is also a plant that is simply not growing or spreading enough. Juniper is an evergreen conifer that grows as trees or shrubs, and is native to Europe and large parts of the northern hemisphere. Its leaves are incredibly aromatic; if you crush them, they smell of lemons or apples. Different parts of the tree contain essential oils for various medicinal therapies and it is an important ecological food source for several species of birds and wild mammals.
Unfortunately, juniper trees are now a protected species around the world. According to the research agency of UK’s Forestry Commission, they have been struggling to thrive because many plants are over a century old and produce only a few seeds. The younger plants are part of a preferred diet for deer, sheep and rabbits, so they do not have the opportunity to grow either. They also currently face a deadly disease called phytophthora austrocedrae, a fungus-like pathogen that causes tree death.
However, conservation efforts are underway in many countries. For instance, juniper is listed as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, a government-led initiative to conserve local species. Aspects like fencing in woodlands, deer control, and selective felling of juniper trees are all part of the conservation strategy.
How many plants can you spot in today’s Word Search? Let us know if you found them all at email@example.com.