: of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature

Scientists laser-scan Amazon for evidence of ancient civilizations…

This recent article from the BBC discusses a project that uses drones to laser-scan the amazon to detect anthropogenic landforms / earthworks, evidence of ancient civilizations in the Amazon – the most expansive wilderness area on earth was most likely once  home to much larger populations then previously thought. Here are some excerpts from the original article, below:

Scientists are to scan the Amazon forest in Brazil to look for evidence of occupation by ancient civilizations.

A drone will be sent up with a laser instrument to peer through the canopy for earthworks that were constructed thousands of years ago.

The UK-led project is trying to determine how big these communities were, and to what degree they altered the landscape.

The data is likely to inform policies on sustainable forest use today.

The key quest is to try to understand the scale and activities of populations living in the late pre-Columbian period (the last 3,000 years before the Europeans arrived in the 1490s).

“While some researchers think that Amazonia was inhabited by small bands of hunter-gatherers and shifting cultivators who had a minimal impact on the environment, and that the forest we see today is pristine and untouched for thousands of years – mounting evidence is showing this may not be the case.

“This evidence suggests that Amazonia may have been inhabited by large, numerous, complex and hierarchical societies that had a major impact on the environment; what we call the ‘cultural parkland hypothesis’,” he told BBC News.

Read the full article here on BBC

Here is a link to additional, related news and articles posted on this website… You might also be interested in chinampas  or the domesticated landscapes of los llanos de Moxos, or Agroforestry.

Bad weather exposes 300 million year tree fossils in Spain…

High wind and heavy rain in Spain recently washed away sand on a beach, exposing “perfectly preserved” fossils of 300 million year old trees. See article and a link below:

Rain in Spain unearths fossilised trees that predate dinosaurs

A recent spate of appalling weather in northern Spain has led to the discovery of perfectly preserved fossilized trees, which scientists believe could be 300 million years old – a period well before dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

While the unusually intemperate climate has caused chaos for locals and holidaymakers, the high winds and heavy rain that struck the Cantabrian coast last week have washed away huge amounts of sand, unearthing the remains of the trees, which scientists have hailed as a significant find.

Describing the trees as being “perfectly preserved”, Miguel Arbizu, a professor of paleontology at the nearby University of Oviedo, told Spain’s 20 Minutos newspaper that they date back to the Stephanian stage, a period that predates most of the dinosaurs we know about today.

“You can see the trunk and roots in the subsoil that date back 300 million years,” said Professor Arbizu. By contrast, the famed Tyrannosaurus rex is known to have lived during the Cretaceous period, between 66 million and 68 million years ago.

Read full article at The Independent.

Agroecology in France

Here is some recent news about Agro-ecological principals / foundations being adopted into French law under the European Union’s reformed Common Agricultural Policy .

From Agro-Ecology has officially made its way into French law, seeking to combine economic, environmental and social performance, reduce the consumption of energy, water, fertilizer, pesticides and veterinary medicine, and to work with natural mechanisms instead of against them.

The incorporation of Agro-Ecology into law took over two years and required the laying of a solid foundation in the form of ambitious agricultural reform projects. The campaign entitled “Year One of Agro-Ecology” celebrates the assembly of Agro-Ecology’s legal foundation and marks the beginning of what promises to be a proliferation of new and improved agricultural practices. The European Union’s reformed Common Agricultural Policy and the announcement of the Loi d’Avenir (The “Future Law”) reaffirm that the desired objectives of Agro-Ecology are and will continue to be reflected in the French legal system.

Read the rest of this article at

Brassica oleraceae var. botrytis, cauliflower, purple of Sicily – California

I’m growing a purple variety of cauliflower this year. Although the true wild origin is not quite known, this heirloom variety comes from Sicily, another purple variety exists from S. Africa. The purple color is naturally occurring, caused by the presence of anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine.

Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C. A half cup of florets provides nearly half of ones daily requirement. Cauliflower is also a good source of fiber, vitamin A, folate, calcium and potassium as well as selenium, which works with Vitamin C to boost the immune system. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower are known for their high levels of cancer-fighting phytochemicals know as glucosinolates. Purple cauliflower, purple of sicily

Bombacaceae, Pachira aquatica, Guinea chestnut, Apompo – Mexico

Pachira aquatica is a medium size tree native to tropical wetlands of Central and South America. Its native habitat tends to be seasonally flooded lowlands or swamps, however it is adaptable to a wide range of tropical environments. The large, oblong fruit is full of large seeds which taste reminiscent of peanuts, and can be eaten raw, cooked, or ground into flour to make bread. The leaves and flowers are also edible.

Pachira aquatica is closely related to Pachira glabra (saba nut). Here’s a number of previous posts related to the Bombacaceae family. 

Click individual photos below to enlarge

Bombacaceae, Pachira aquatica, tree

SCW_7205Bombacaceae, Pachira aquatica, leaf

Bombacaceae, Pachira aquatica,  fruit, seedpod

Bombacaceae, Pachira aquatica, fruit, cross section

Annonaceae, Rollinia deliciosa (mucosa), Biriba – Tropical S. America

Rollinia deliciosa, biriba

Here’s a photo of two immature Biriba fruit. When mature the fruit turns bright yellow.

Biriba can be found growing in the wild in the islands of the Caribbean and in northern South America. Although still relatively unknown, it becoming increasingly common in cultivation. It is most widely cultivated in the Brazilian state of Para.

The fruit is consumed raw. It’s sweet pulp has a very agreeable flavor; a somewhat mucilaginous, custard-like texture. Many Brazilians consider the Biriba to be the best tasting fruit of the Anonaceae family. I would consider that possibility myself, although there the quality of the fruit can vary from tree to tree depending on where / how it is grown, etc. The fruit is eaten fresh, out of hand, or in smoothies, sorbets and ice creams.

Reportedly, the seeds of Biriba can/are used for their insecticidal properties. Macerated seeds, soaked in water and strained, might hold potential for a good organic foliar insecticide and fungicide.

Don’t eat seeds from Biriba or any other Anonaceous seeds, they may poison and possibly kill you.

Biriba is a species form the hot, humid tropics and grows best in areas with more than 1,250 mm of annual rainfall. The tree and fruit develop best in clay soils, deep, well drained and rich in organic matter.

The seedling Biriba tree begins to produce fruit around the third year of growth reaching maximum production in the eighth year. A single tree can produce around eighty fruits a year weighing between .4 and 1 kilo. Here in Panama it is one of the most productive fruit trees I have seen, however it is also very uncommon. Virtually unknown. I cannot recall when I have seen it in this area of Central America outside of private botanical collections.

When collecting seed for propagation, collect only the largest seeds from the largest fruits harvested from the most healthy and disease resistant trees.


Brassica rapa, rapini, broccoli rabe, flower and buds

Actually more closely related to the turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapa) then broccoli, Rapini is likely the semi-domesticated descent of a wild herb originating either in China or the Mediterranean region.

Rapini is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron. The leaves, stems, buds, and flowers are edible. Photos of the flowers and buds below.

Brassica rapa flower

Brassica rapa flower

New book from the World Agroforestry Centre – Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

The World Agroforestry Centre is pleased to formally launch the book: Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

This book brings together a range of work around landscape approaches specifically looking at the pathways, methods and tools needed for achieving sustainable multifunctional landscapes within the context of climate change.  It draws strongly on field experiences and case studies from across the developing world to concretely demonstrate how the concept of taking a landscape approach can be applied both in policy and practice. It presents scientific evidence in a way that is accessible and applicable by mid-career practitioners and policymakers in a bid to bridge science, policy and practice. This includes a section specifically identifying opportunities for private sector involvement in landscape approaches.

Here’s a link to download a PDF of the book: Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice


Psathyrellaceae, Coprinopsis nivea, Snowy ink cap – W. Sonoma, CA

I’m pretty sure this is Coprinopsis nivea, but I could be wrong. If you have an ID correction please let me know via the comment forum.

In the photo below you will observe the bright white mushroom growing in its typical horse dung habitat.

Here are some previous posts / photos of mushrooms from this site…

Click photo to enlarge.

Coprinus latisporus

Lactarius fragilis, candy cap mushroom – W. Sonoma, CA

Two photos of Lactarius fragilis mushrooms from W. Sonoma County. As they dry out these intriguing mushrooms smell increasingly like maple syrup and are best cooked into deserts due to their unique aroma / flavor.

Here’s a previous post from two years ago with more info and photos on the Candy Cap mushroom.

Click photos to enlarge.

Lactarius fragilis Lactarius fragilis