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Tue Jun 7, 2016, 01:20 AM

5,000 year old tree in Scotland is changing gender, a rare and unusual phenomenon

5,000 year old tree in Scotland is changing gender, a rare and unusual phenomenon
Fortingall Yew, in Perthshire, has been recorded as 'male' for centuries, but in recent years it has started to sprout seeds, suggesting that part of it is changing gender. This 'rare and unusual phenomenon' move has baffled botanists.

The Fortingall Yew standing in a church yard in Perthshire, Scotland is estimated to be 5,000 years old. For as long as people have been recording data on the tree, it was assumed to be male - meaning that it produces pollen instead of berries. Yet, this year three red berries were spotted growing on its branches, which can only mean one thing: at least part of the tree is changing its sex to female.


How can this occur? Max Coleman of Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh says, "It's a rare occurrence... rare and unusual and not fully understood." He believes that environmental stress may have led to hormonal changes in the tree, causing the berries to begin sprouting. The autumn and winter seasons make it easy to differentiate a yew's sex. Coleman recognizes that other yews and similar trees have been observed to seemingly switch sexes.

Fascinating bit of science. I had no idea this could happen.

21 replies, 2301 views

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Reply 5,000 year old tree in Scotland is changing gender, a rare and unusual phenomenon (Original post)
Agnosticsherbet Jun 2016 OP
merrily Jun 2016 #1
Agnosticsherbet Jun 2016 #2
DiehardLiberal Jun 2016 #3
Bayard Jun 2016 #4
complain jane Jun 2016 #5
Festivito Jun 2016 #8
Agnosticsherbet Jun 2016 #13
DiehardLiberal Jun 2016 #18
MFM008 Jun 2016 #6
Lodestar Jun 2016 #7
hopemountain Jun 2016 #10
silverweb Jun 2016 #9
unc70 Jun 2016 #11
Agnosticsherbet Jun 2016 #12
unc70 Jun 2016 #15
eppur_se_muova Jun 2016 #14
unc70 Jun 2016 #19
Stryst Jun 2016 #16
Agnosticsherbet Jun 2016 #17
Judi Lynn Jun 2016 #20
Agnosticsherbet Jun 2016 #21

Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 01:22 AM

1. Amazing!

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Response to merrily (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 01:23 AM

2. That was my thought, also.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 01:33 AM

3. Oh dear - now which bathroom will it use??

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Response to DiehardLiberal (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 01:54 AM

4. What you said!

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Response to DiehardLiberal (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 02:11 AM

5. LOL!

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Response to DiehardLiberal (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 03:50 AM

8. No dropping no needles till we checks your birth certificate. Ya hear?

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Response to DiehardLiberal (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 09:34 AM

13. But your comment won this thread.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #13)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 12:31 PM

18. Yay - that's a first for me! Thanks!!

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 02:34 AM

6. Like Jeff Goldblum said in Jurrasic Park

Life will always find a way............

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 03:22 AM

7. The matriarchy has begun...

survival depends on it.

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Response to Lodestar (Reply #7)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 04:37 AM

10. yes. it may be worth exploring

and researching examples of this phenomenon occurring through the ages in other life forms.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 04:26 AM

9. "Life will find a way."

[font color="navy" face="Verdana"]My very favorite line from a favorite actor in an older movie. Because it's true.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 08:04 AM

11. Various plants and animals can change fender

Last edited Tue Jun 7, 2016, 09:10 AM - Edit history (1)

Oysters do it routinely.

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Response to unc70 (Reply #11)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 09:33 AM

12. I'll bet that is why oyster's have their reputation.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #12)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 09:37 AM

15. Unlike their cousins the exuberant bivalves.

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Response to unc70 (Reply #11)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 09:37 AM

14. That's handy if they have a fender bender. nt

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #14)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 07:21 PM

19. Afraid I have iFun disease

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 09:43 AM

16. Sex! It's changing it's SEX!

What is so hard to understand about the difference between sex and gender? Plant's don't have societies, so they don't have social roles. No gender. They have a physical sex, and in this plant that physical sex is changing.

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Response to Stryst (Reply #16)

Tue Jun 7, 2016, 09:46 AM

17. Actually, plants do communicate (link below), just not with us.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/66302/5-ways-plants-communicate

So they could have some form of society.
You know, there is a Science Fiction story in that. Thanks.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Jun 8, 2016, 11:55 PM

20. May this tree live another 5,000 years, at least. Measures should be taken to protect it. n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #20)

Wed Jun 8, 2016, 11:57 PM

21. I agree.

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