plants

Late blight
User: PHOTO/arts Magazine / Flickr

You'll hear gardeners and growers all over Michigan asking that question as they discover dark and nasty-looking lesions on tomato plants and tomatoes.

Turns out, Michigan's tomatoes are catching the very same disease that wiped out the Irish potato crop in the 1840s to catastrophic result. It's called "late blight".

Mary Hausbeck is a professor in the plant pathology department at Michigan State University. Hausbeck says late blight is caused by a microorganism that enjoys cool, wet conditions, and this is exactly the type of weather we’ve had this year.

If we want to use fungicides to protect the plants, Hausbeck recommends using products that list chlorothalonil as the active ingredient and applying at least every seven days.

*Listen to the interview with Mary Hausbeck above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people are expected to be drawn like flies to see and smell a reeking flower in East Lansing this week. 

“The Latin name for this plant is Amorphophallus Titanium,” says Peter Carrington, assistant curator of MSU’s Beal Botanical Garden, “which gloriously translates into "the very huge misshapen penis.”

Mike Palmer, horticulture manager at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, stands in front of the American agave plant.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens

It was 1934. The nation was deep in the Great Depression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in the White House. William Comstock was Michigan's 33rd governor.

And a University of Michigan graduate student in botany found an agave plant while on a botanical expedition to Mexico. He brought it back to Ann Arbor.

Now, 80 years later, that agave plant is getting set to bloom – for its first and only time.

Michael Palmer is the horticultural manager at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and the Nichols Arboretum and he joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

dnr.wi.gov

We have had many conversations on Stateside about invasive species, usually the type with scales and gills, such as Asian carp.

Today, we focus on invasive species with chlorophyll. Yes, non-native plants that are invading ecosystems in the Great Lakes.

Jo Latimore is an outreach specialist with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University, and she joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Christoph Benning, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU
Courtesy: Michigan State University

Michigan State University researchers are celebrating the marriage of a weed and an algae gene -- and its value as a potential biofuel. 

The team found that adding an algae gene to mustard weed caused the plant to store oil in its leaves, and the technique could be used to get more energy out of plants grown for bio-fuel.

If you've ever lived in the south, you know kudzu. It's an invasive plant that grows like crazy. Covers highway signs and telephone poles and anything that doesn't run fast enough.

There's a plant in Michigan that's getting a little crazy too. It's not kudzu-crazy yet, but experts say we need to get a handle on it.

It has a memorable name: dog-strangling vine.