These Puerto Rican 'bird-eating' trees were just named after 2 powerhouse women.

Two amazing women who helped bring Puerto Rico's flora to life have now been immortalized with the names of two new, slightly terrifying tree species.

In a paper published Sept. 26, scientists announced a pair of newly discovered Puerto Rican pisonia trees — named after  two overlooked women who made major contributions to our understanding of Puerto Rican natural history.

One of the trees — Pisonia horneae — is named after Frances W. Horne, an American illustrator who created hundreds of watercolor illustrations of Puerto Rico's trees, flowers, and birds. The other — Pisonia roqueae — is named after Dr. Ana Roqué de Duprey, a notable Puerto Rican suffragist and one of the founders of the University of Puerto Rico.


One of Horne's watercolor illustrations. Image by Francis W. Horne/Wikimedia Commons.

Both women lived around the turn of the 20th century and both created major botanical works that went unpublished during their lifetimes.

Finding two new species of tree is always big deal. But these trees are also notable for their fascinatingly macabre reputation.

Pisonia are also known as "birdcatcher" trees. Their fruits are covered in a sticky, glue-like substance that will fasten itself to any bird unlucky enough to touch one.

The seeds of Pisonia roqueae. When fully ripe, these pods will transform into a sticky, gooey mess. Image by Jorge C. Trejo-Torres.

The adaptation helps the trees spread their seeds from island to island.

"However, sometimes these fruits can trap too tightly and even kills birds, as seen in documentaries," lead author Marcos Caraballo-Ortiz said in a press release. A particularly harrowing sequence featuring the tree even appeared in the BBC's 2016 run of "Planet Earth II".

"So far, we do not know of cases where birds have been trapped by the sticky fruits of the new species, but future studies will explore this possibility," he said.

Though these trees may seem a bit ghoulish, they're fascinating biological specimens. And any chance to honor both these women and the island's amazing flora is welcome.

"It only seemed natural to name the two new species after these two extraordinary women who spent decades on large educational projects aimed to divulge botanical knowledge in Puerto Rico," said co-author Jorge Trejo-Torres.

"Just like the two large trees remained unrecognised by science until now, the enormous efforts of these two women, who dedicated part of their lives to botanical work, remained largely unrecognised by the community."

Hopefully this gesture will help rectify that.

True

Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

Keep Reading Show less

Everyone has heard stories of the strange and intense food cravings women get when pregnant. There's the pregnant woman who had to have dill pickles dipped in ice cream or the one who couldn't make it through the night without a bucket of a specific type of fried chicken.

Researchers have yet to lock down the exact reason why pregnant women have these seemingly unnatural cravings, but there are a few reasons that are often cited. Women who are pregnant experience heightened senses of smell and taste that can have a direct effect on their appetites.

Some researchers believe their bodies may be craving specific nutrients they need for a healthy pregnancy. Others have suggested that dietary requests at odd hours may be a way for a pregnant person to develop a supportive bond with their partner before the baby arrives.

Keep Reading Show less