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Both women lived around the turn of the 20th century and both created major botanical works that went unpublished during their lifetimes.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

Thank you to these #Tokyo2020 hopefuls who have shown that they are more than just good at their sport, but also good to their communities. Let's follow their lead.

Join P&G Good Everyday to do more good together.

Those of us who grew up in the Alanis Morissette angst era and followed her through her transformation into a more enlightened version of herself may be thrilled to know she has a new album out. Such Pretty Forks in the Road is her first album in eight years—and the first since two of her three children were born.

Anyone who's been working from home with kids knows that we're all in the same frequently interrupted boat. Such is the pandemic life. But we've also seen how those very human moments when kids insert themselves into life are some of the most real and precious. And that reality comes shining through in Morissette's Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon performance of her new song, "Ablaze," which is, not so ironically, a song about her children. As she sings, it's clear that she's still got the chops that made her famous. It's also clear that her 4-year-old daughter, Onyx, just sees her mommy as mommy and not as the iconic pop star that she is. The performance is lovely and sweet, and hearing Onyx's little voice and seeing her put her hand over her mom's mouth as she sings is just too adorably real.

Keep Reading Show less
True

The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great challenge, including the worst global health crisis in its history. Will it bring the world closer together? Or will it lead to greater divides and mistrust?

Share your vision for shaping the future: take this 1-minute survey. Your responses to this survey will inform global priorities now and going forward.

Is Harrison, Arkansas truly America's most racist town? It's not like there are official statistics kept on such things, but the town of 13,000 in the Ozark Mountain region does have a reputation. According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Harrison was the site of riots in the early 1900s that drove most of the Black population out. (Current demographics put the town at over 95% white, with less than 1% of the population being Black.) The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the white supremacist group Kingdom Identity Ministries are based in the area. The KKK uses a Harrison post office box for its mailing address, and its national director lives outside of town.

Though city leaders insist that the town's reputation has been tarnished by a small group of people, there have been signs—literal signs—that white supremacist views aren't that uncommon. One billboard in town in 2013 read "Anti-racist is a Code Word for Anti-White," and another advertises "WhitePrideRadio.Com" and "AltRightTV.Com" with an image of a white family holding an American flag next to a cross and a message that says "For the Family."

Keep Reading Show less

Sometimes you have to laugh when you really want to cry.

Rex Chapman shared a TikTok video from Australian creator Blake Pavey, in which he "checks in" with different countries regarding their coronavirus numbers, and it is sadly hilarious—especially if you're an American.

We all know that we're in a global pandemic, and that every country has been impacted by the virus in varying degrees. But the U.S. is in a league of our own when it comes to our national response to the outbreak, leading the world in cases. In fact, we account for nearly a quarter of the world's cases and a quarter of the world's deaths, despite only being about 5% of the world's population. So much winning!

Keep Reading Show less