Fascinating facts

Lots of plants are used as dyes. You can colour cloth with stewed onion skin, tea bags or walnut juice – try it. One of the oldest blue dyes comes from a plant called 'woad' that has been used since Neolithic times – more than 6,000 years ago.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the tallest ever sunflower grew to 7.76m high (25 12 ft). That is about as high as four men standing on each other’s heads!

Pollen from trees such as hazel and willow is full of protein. It provides essential food for bumblebees early in the spring, before there are many flowers about.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s longest cucumber was grown in Essex, UK in 1986 and measured a whopping 1.1m (3ft 8in). That’s enough to make about 44 rounds of cucumber sandwiches.

Seaweed contains a kind of gloopy jelly stuff that helps it hold onto water. It is also very useful for all sorts of other things - the carrageenan used for thickening ice cream comes from seaweed!

When they hatch out, baby spiders make a long strand of spider silk that is caught by the wind like a balloon and carries them away to a new home.

Did you know, carrots actually come in a range of colours? White and yellow carrots come from Europe, and purple ones come from the Middle East. The orange ones are a fairly recent invention, created by crossing various other colours.

The yew tree is very poisonous – wood, leaves, seeds and pollen. Birds can eat the berries and survive because the seeds go right through them without being digested and come out in their poo.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.