Plants

The 12 plants of Christmas

Although many of us imagine evergreens to be towering holiday pines of fragrant wreaths, "evergreen" refers to any plant that retains its color throughout the year. Depending on what part of the world you are in, evergreens can look very different. In tropical places, almost all plants keep their leaves year-round and are therefore considered evergreen, whereas in more temperate environments conifers are the most conspicuous plants to remain green in the winter.

Born from the Ashes

You know that part in Game of Thrones where the dragon eggs hatch when they’re put in fire? This is like that, but with a super-endangered flower. Illinois’s only native wildflower, the Kankakee mallow, has been missing from this state for years—it was presumed extinct in its native habitat. But this year, Field Museum scientists and volunteers from the Friends of Langham Island group were able to bring it back. Their secret? Setting fire to the ground where the plants once lived.

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