Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

Signs of the Flame: How to Read Your Charmander’s Tail

Pokémon communication specialists have long researched these methods to try and find out how we can best talk to our Pokémon to support their well-being . Image Credit: Scottish LebUwU

Being social Pokémon in the wild, Charmander have developed a complex communication method using their tails. Two Charmander can speak effectively with each other when hunting without making a sound – though verbal communication is also a big part of Charmander life on the whole. Pokémon communication specialists have long researched these methods to try and find out how we can best talk to our Pokémon to support their well-being. This guide introduces nine of the ways you can read your Charmander’s tail to see his mood and health.

A relaxed tail with a medium flame (Top Left)

This is a happy/content tail. A healthy Charmander should be like this most of the time. However, remember that Pokémon have feelings – just like you and me – so just like you’re not always happy and content, neither is he. A happy Charmander may also play with their tails, either chasing them, dancing them or sometimes just giving them a gentle sway. They don’t call it a ‘happy medium’ for nothing – and this is the same for your Charmander’s flame. Not too large, not too small is just right.

To help make your Charmander happier, try encouraging him to partake in his favourite activities. Sometimes Charmander get depressed if they don’t have enough opportunities to hunt, for example. Or, perhaps your Charmander enjoys nightly strolls with you. Quality time is the perfect way to help cheer up your friend.

A relaxed tail with a large, roaring flame (Top Middle)

This is a very angry/I’m showing off my power tail. The two types should be easy to tell between.

A very angry Charmander may accompany tail movements with biting, snarling, a furrowed brow, scratching and crouching. Mature Charmander rarely get to this level of anger without cause, so make sure you stop whatever you are doing and have a time out. If it is an external factor that is causing the problem, remove your Charmander from the situation and perhaps talk it out with him when he begins to calm down.

If your Charmander is very young, he may not have received the right guidance from his pack as to the right and wrong times to get angry. In these cases, strong and sure guidance is essential so that your friend doesn’t develop behaviour problems later on. Get him to a Pokémon Breeder as soon as possible for advice as to whether he needs anger management or simple behaviour classes.

A Charmander who has boosted his flame to show off his power may be trying to look tough in front of an adversary or trying to look good in front of its mates (or you, its trainer). If this is infrequent, don’t worry about it, as it can be part of your Charmander’s everyday socialisation. If it happens too often, or if your Charmander starts ‘facing off’ against you, he may be feeling insecure in his ranking in a social group or unhappy with the intensiveness of your training.

A tail flicking from side to side (Top Right)

This is an annoyed tail, and one of the easiest ways to tell if your Charmander is uncomfortable with something. Don’t be confused with the happy-go-lucky dancing where the tail will flick around in different directions – the angry flicking will be flat and consistent: almost like a metronome. He could use this tail for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from not getting fed at his usual time to bickering with his siblings or frustrated after losing a battle. He may also use this movement to show he is hungry or tired.

This level of anger can usually be averted with a quick distraction. Try rubbing his head, having a chat, or suggesting he take a break.

A tail in front of the body with a medium to large flame (Middle Left)

This is a typical prepared-to-battle tail. You’ll get to know this very well if you are training your Charmander for the Pokémon league. It will usually be paired with a standing stance, a slightly bent knee and a toothy grin. This isn’t the only battle stance – your Charmander may adopt a unique one of his own – but it is the most common one I have seen. Your Charmander shouldn’t really be using this stance outside of battle, but sometimes it is incorporated into play between friends.

A tail arched over the back with a low flame (Middle Middle)

This is a crouching or hunting tail. You will see this when your Charmander is hunting prey such as rodents or small lizards. Charmander will often hunt in packs, so your Charmander may try to encourage you to hunt with him and get very frustrated when you scare away the prey. Perhaps team up with a Pokémon friend who can be a better hunting buddy.

An erect tail with a low flame (Middle Right)

This is a surprised or afraid tail. Ever seen your Charmander watching a scary movie and the monster jumps at the screen? When Charmander feels sudden fear, his muscles stiffen as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response. His tail follows suit, straightening along the length, while the flame dips so that the Charmander can either run without the flame getting in the way or he can flash the flame up in an intimidation display.

If your Charmander is slowly becoming more afraid (for example when watching a slow-burn horror film), you can sometimes notice the tail getting progressively straighter and the flame smaller.

A relaxed tail with a very large flame with specks of white at the core (Bottom Left)

This is an overpowered tail and a sign that Charmander is getting too many nutrients or too much food. A Charmander’s diet can be a little tough to manage as they have a tendency towards gluttony. Always portion your Charmander’s meals and never give in if he begs, as a Charmander’s belly is never full.

Getting too much food can increase your Charmander’s risk factor of diseases such as obesity and diabetes. The enlarged flame that comes as a response to these conditions can also be difficult to manage, increasing fire risks around the home. In addition, the possibility of being accidentally burned by your Charmander increases when his flame is harder to control.

A relaxed but dirty tail with a medium to low flame that has specks of blue in it (Bottom Middle)

This means Charmander has not been taking care of himself. This may be a result of a wide array of different physical and mental problems, as well as a simple hygiene issue. Watch out for other signs of illness such as pale gums, retracted pupils, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and lethargy.

If you don’t see any of these symptoms but your Charmander is still dirty or smelly, you may need to teach him the importance of keeping clean. Take him to a Pokémon Centre (or general health centre) to speak with a specialist who can help set up a hygiene routine. Encourage your Charmander to get involved, perhaps including a sticker reward chart. Eventually, he should learn to do things by himself without the need for a reward.

A weak, floppy tail with a low (but still red) flame (Bottom Right)

This is a sick/injured/very sad tail. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell between a Charmander under a sad spell and those that are depressed and sick. However, if you see your Charmander in this condition and the tail does not change position for around half an hour, get him to the Pokémon centre right away, as it could be a medical emergency. Being predators, Charmander usually hide their illness quite well, so he may still look energetic, despite his illness.

If you have been to a health centre and your Charmander has been given a full bill of health, yet you are still seeing a sad tail, perhaps speak with a Pokémon therapist to see if they can work out what the issue is.

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

Pokémon Poetry Part 1

As his trust burns as deep as a fire in ignition,
Underneath all the light, a friendship grows. Image credit: Thyfany Ron

A

There once was a monster of grass,
With a bulb growing out of its ass,
He was little and green,
Rarely was he seen,
As a starter, I gave him a pass.

He evolved to a punky teenager,
He grew taller, more leafy and stranger,
His flower was nice,
But you’d not dare look twice,
Cause those poisonous petals spell danger.

Now, the third one he is quite the brute,
Next to him, you could look quite minute,
From the tree on his back,
Comes a viscous attack,
He’s the king and his reign’s resolute

B

Leech Seed, Growl, Vine Whip,
Green quadrupedal poison,
Drains down my HP.

Red eyes staring fierce,
Enveloped by a flower,
Take Down on my heart.

On a petal tree,
Sits a golden crown shining,
A monster is he.

C

Bumbles along, he’s a friend to the forest,
Understanding each rock like the marks on his skin,
Lullaby just as sweet as his skills as a florist,
Bent on winning each match, any fight that he’s in.
Always depend on a brave disposition,
Smiling broadly down on his friends and his foes,
As his trust burns as deep as a fire in ignition,
Underneath all the light, a friendship grows.
Ridiculed and admired, he’s the hero we chose.

Incipient power,
Venusaur’s predecessor,
Youthful energy reigning the woods,
Surging ahead with a brazen desire,
Among these may rule our childhoods.
Understanding there can be only one,
Rambunctious and proud with a beam like the sun.

Venusaur rumbles the ground underneath us,
Ethereal shakes to waken our bones,
Nowadays we may lose touch with the forest,
Underestimate his breatheren’s home.
Shattering walls as the ground crumbles inwards,
A monster rises, as wide as the sun,
Usurp his throne no more,
Revenge, his tactic of woe.

Makes and Fun Spots

Pokémon-Themed Outfits: Venusaur

You love Pokémon? Well now you can dress like them too! This set of posts are designed to give you some inspirations so you can pull together some outfits based on your favourite Pokémon! The styles are all simple, so you can achieve the look no matter what your budget! These outfits were drawn by Elaineayana.

For Venusaur, we’ve reflected his beautiful flower with a dashing pink floppy sun hat. That is complemented by a sweetheaert-neckline white top and a long, flowing turquoise skirt.

Below are some examples of these items. But, you can find them anywhere with a quick search. Remember to check your wardrobe!

Tie-Front Sweetheart Neckline Crop Top
Sweetheart Neckline Pleplum Shirt (Alternative Cut)
Vintage Sweetheart Neckline Polkadot (Alternative Pattern)
Neck Puff Sleeve Top (Alternative Sleeve Length)
Sweetheart Neck Bandeau (Alternative No Sleeves)
Summer Straw Hat
Chiffron Lace Hat (Alternative: Go Frilly)
Mint Blue Pleated Skirt
Floor-Sweeping Maxi Skirt (Alternative Colour)
Beach Maxi Skirt (Alternative for your holidays)
Kath Kidston Cross Body Bag
Top Handle Rose Bag
Suedette Strappy Shoes
Square Block Heels

Want to be less subtle? Try these male and female hoodies?

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

Making Space in Your Home for Venusaur

Venusaur takes great pride in having a place to call his own that he can decorate as he sees fit. Image credit: Marta Maszkiewicz

Venusaur can grow up to 6ft tall and 8ft wide, so not the most house-friendly! He certainly wouldn’t fit through your average door – or indeed in most rooms. However, not all house-raised Venusaur want to be outside all of the time. This creates a conundrum for a lot of trainers who want to meet their Venusaur’s needs but can’t afford to send them to a Pokémon retreat, sunlight gym or specialised daycare every day. This article explores some of the things you could do to create space in your home for your Venusaur.

Widen doorways

Accommodating a Venusaur comes with many impracticalities – the first being his inability to get through a doorway. A typical door is roughly 4ft wide, meaning you would need to more than double your door width to have a chance at Venusaur fitting through comfortably.

One way to do this is to install French doors. If you’re not planning on altering your whole house, install these on the room nearest the garden as a priority, so Venusaur can move in and outdoors when he pleases. Venusaur can typically open and close doors using his vines and won’t need a special handle.

If you do intend on changing the internal doors, a barn-style door might be the easiest to get in widths you need, or consider just having open walkways. Always keep fire safety in mind!

Install smart technology

If you are leaving your Venusaur home alone for long periods of time, it might be useful to install some smart technology systems – the sort that powers certain objects in the home via remote control. Venusaur’s vines are dexterous enough to use a remote and it can help him have better access to items you might store in nooks and crannies he just can’t reach.

I’ve heard great things about an upcoming tech company called PokéTalk that is developing a communication device for Pokémon that will let them give verbal commands to certain electrical items around the house. When this is finished, the device will bring great flexibility to Venusaur’s life, allowing him full access to kitchen appliances, television, the radio, lighting, heating and many other utilities that was just not possible before without some serious planning. Of course, this is a big project: Pokémon speak in different ways and to different complexities. But, I wish them all the best.

Heavy duty lifts

One common issue for Venusaur is stairs. Ramps would be the best solution, but this is often just not practical to accommodate such a large Pokémon. An alternative is to install a heavy-duty lift to allow Venusaur to reach the top floor. These sort of lifts are often seen in hospitals or warehouses where large trolleys need to be carried up or down floors. It should have an easy-to-use interface and be built into a wall that will never be obstructed.

The Elderly Pokémon Company has some good offerings for these sort of lifts, and they often install them for good prices – especially for older or disabled Venusaur. Mine used to ride his right to the roof. He wasn’t allowed on the roof, of course, but he sure did like the view. Most Venusaur are scared of heights, so just first-floor lifts should be fine for most houses.

Outside shelter

Not everyone can practically alter their house, but you may just have enough room on your garden or yard to install a Venusaur outhouse. These are often very nice, as the Venusaur takes great pride in having a place to call his own that he can decorate as he sees fit. I once knew a Venusaur who loved this job so much, he trained to become an official painter/decorator for the local community.

Do you also have enough room in your garden for a pool and vegetable garden? If so, task looking after these to your Venusaur and I’m sure he’ll appreciate it!

What if I just can’t adapt my house?

Everyone should be given the opportunity to have a Pokémon, regardless of wealth or house size! If you just don’t have the room, or can’t afford to modify your house, don’t worry! There are other options:

  • The Professor Oak Institute and other Pokémon scientists often offer a free day and night-care service to trainers willing to let them monitor and keep collected data. This is a great option, as it lets scientists develop better Pokémon healthcare products!
  • If your Venusaur is elderly or disabled, there are a few charities that may be able to contribute towards the cost of modifications. Try Venusupport For Life or The Vineline to see what they can do for you
  • Gym trainers sometimes offer care services for trainers willing to let their Venusaur help train the gym leader’s Pokémon. This is great if your Venusaur still likes to battle
  • There are some government jobs your Venusaur can apply for that come with free housing. Anything from nursery nursing to caretaking for town parks

Makes and Fun Spots

Pokémon-Themed Outfits: Ivysaur

You love Pokémon? Well now you can dress like them too! This set of posts are designed to give you some inspirations so you can pull together some outfits based on your favourite Pokémon! The styles are all simple, so you can achieve the look no matter what your budget! These outfits were drawn by Elaineayana.

For Ivysaur, these easy-to-wear paper bag waist trousers will help keep you on trend and ready to go. This is paired with a black crisscross cami and a silky lace bolero.

Get the look:

Below are some examples of these items. But, you can find them anywhere with a quick search. Remember to check your wardrobe!

Paper Bag Trousers
Paper Bag Trousers (Alternative blue)
Belted Paper Bag Trousers (Alternative blue)
Crosscross Cami Top
Crisscross Cami Top (Alternative neckline)
Crosscross Cami Top (Alternative No Midriff Showing)
Pink Lace 3/4 Sleeve Bolero
Lace Shrug (Alternative colour)
Lace Sleeved Cropped Bolero (Alternative colour)

Want to be less subtle? Try this Ivysaur shirt!

Found any good bargains? Post your finds below!

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

A Beginner’s Guide to Ivysaur Training


Keep your Ivysaur in top running order by keeping them active. Image Credit:
Jozanto Soe Aung

Ivysaur sure have a lot of energy! All that vigour can get misdirected into destructive behaviour if you don’t give your Ivysaur regular, rigourous exercise. One excellent way to do that is training using agility courses. This guide will show you some of the best Ivysaur workouts and the equipment you can get to help.

Why Agility is Awesome

Ivysaur are best at using the field to their advantage, but their stocky build can cause a lot of drag. Keep your Ivysaur in top running order by keeping them active. Some benefits to using an agility course include:

  • Agility is all about high-paced controlled movement, which will help tremendously in battle. The course will also give Ivysaur a mental workout by learning how to use each piece of equipment
  • Agility training helps develop your communication with Ivysaur, as you learn to give accurate and precise orders
  • This training technique can also be fun party piece! Your Ivysaur will love showing off his moves just as much as you’ll enjoy demonstrating your strong trainer skills

What is an Agility Course?

An agility course consists of a set of equipment, called ‘contacts’. There are typically 12-18 obstacles in a complete professional course, but you should start with one or two and build up. This guide will show the top five pieces of agility equipment and explain how to use them.

Tunnels

Tunnels are an easy way to train for speed, focus and listening to instructions. It is one of the simplest to teach.

It starts with trust. Your Ivysaur must believe that the dark, enclosed space is safe to go into, and that nothing scary is lurking inside. In the wild, Ivysaur tend to sleep out in the open, choosing to use camouflage rather than shelter. Small spaces are not his forte. In addition, natural ‘tunnels’ such as hollow tree logs and caves are often heavily guarded by the Pokémon living inside.

Begin by putting some of your Ivysaur’s favourite treats or toys near the entrance of the tunnel. Let him explore by himself at first and don’t introduce commands just yet. Every time he goes near the entrance of the tunnel (or better, inside) give him lots of praise. He should get the message.

Getting your Ivysaur to travel all the way through a tunnel may take lots of patience and repetition. Start with a short tunnel, and place treats throughout. If you’re lucky, he’ll just head straight through following the treats. If not, team up with someone else your Ivysaur is familiar with (perhaps a family member or human / Pokémon  friend. You encourage him to go in the tunnel, while your friend encourages him to go out the other end. Gradually lengthen the tunnel, and once he has the hang of it you can start introducing bends.

To step it up, make or buy a multi-branch tunnel. Use colour markers to indicate which branch you want him to follow. Another customisation level of advanced courses is to create hills and drops in your tunnel.

Jumps

Ivysaur aren’t natural jumpers. They much prefer to have all four feet planted to the ground. However, jumping is a great way to build body strength. You can use skipping ropes, hoops, jumping fences, or just set up logs at different heights. I have found most success with the latter, but my trainer friends all have their favourites.

I once trained an Ivysaur for a Pokémon Ranger who was looking to put on an event at the park. His Ivysaur was getting restless and his trainer had decided to make him part of the show. They had a series of hoops they wanted the Ivysaur to jump through, but he just couldn’t get up that high. The more they tried to encourage him, the more worried he got until it was almost at breaking point. I always think about him to help me remember that slow and steady is the best course.

I moved the hoop very low to the ground so that Ivysaur would only have to step through. I then tempted him with little pieces of orange – his favourite treat. We did that a few times a day for a week, then I slowly stepped it up so he’d have to do a little hop through the hoop. Using little baby steps like this helped to improve his confidence. After that, my ranger friend was able to take over. We managed to get that Ivysaur jumping through hoops in less than two months, just in time for the show.

Ramps

Training an Ivysaur to use a ramp is a very useful trick. Not only is it a key item for endurance training in an agility course, but it can also help prepare elderly Ivysaur for transportation in and out of cars.

Ramps are very easy to train. The only issue, really, will come if your Ivysaur is afraid of heights. It is essential that you address this fear first before introducing a timid Ivysaur to a high ramp: even if it doesn’t look all that high to you!

An Ivysaur’s fear can be tackled very similar to human fear. Try to slowly desensitise him to the situation. Is he afraid of going up stairs? Try and encourage him to go up step by step. Then, see if he will look over the banister. If the fear is persistent, you could try using a hypnotherapist or Pokémon therapist to find out the cause of the issue. The ones that incorporate other Pokémon into the treatment are best, unless your Ivysaur is a good drawer.

Targets

Targets are one of the best training methods if your aim is for battling, as well as exercise. Your Ivysaur should be quite talented at hitting targets already, as he has known Vine Whip from level 7 or so. Your job is to make things more difficult. Here are some ways to create a more dynamic target practice:

  • Attach targets to a washing line (one of those that moves on a pulley system) and move the targets back and forth. Alternatively, install a pole in your training grounds and do the same, but vertically
  • Use AI-based targets (you can get these from some Pokémarts) where they make sounds or light up. You can programme different layouts, and even set it to music for a new challenge
  • Use the clay discs used in clay pigeon shooting as targets. You could also use a frisbee
  • Hide some targets around the house or garden and tell Ivysaur to make a muddy vine print when he finds them. This won’t train for hitting targets, but is is a unique way to help him use his brain
  • Use a tennis ball machine to train quick reaction times. Make sure it is not pointed directly at your Ivysaur, but just to the left or right of him

Weave Poles

Weave Poles improve dexterity and precision. They also look great in shows, if you get several Ivysaur doing it one after another. If you time it right, you can get one little head poking out to the right, while his follower pokes his head to the left. Always makes me giggle.

Teaching weave poles is one of the more challenging to train, as your Ivysaur can’t just explore by himself. Start him to the first pole is at his right shoulder, and put a treat to the right of it. As he goes for the first treat, put another on the left of the next pole. Hopefully, he will walk in the right direction. Once he gets the hang of it, introduce some sort of cue. I wave my hand in a little S shape, like a snake wriggling through grass. You only need to do this when he is at the start of the weave.

You can practice weaving out and about by getting your Ivysaur to weave in and out of your legs when taking wide steps. Remember, though, that the outside world has many exciting distractions and your Ivysaur may not be as focused as he is in the environment of your home or training ground.

Makes and Fun Spots

Bulbasaur’s Top Tips for Looking After Potted Cactus Plants


The oldest cactus lived to around 300 years old . Image credit: Laura Thomson

Article by Laura Thomson

Bulbasaur loves to look after plants and he asked me to share some advice with you! Cacti are strong house plants and have grown in popularity over the last few years. Cacti varieties are endless and they don’t need a lot of watering. Remember, their natural habitat is the desert! To make your plants as happy and healthy as possible, Bulbasaur advises that it’s essential to try and replicate these native conditions, even if you don’t happen to live in the sizzling and dry temperatures of Arizona.

Here are Bulbasaur’s top (simple) tips for keeping your cacti rooted to the ground:

Lots of light = lots of little (or big) spikes

Deserts aren’t short of sunlight, so it’s fair to say cactus plants will always benefit from plentiful light sources. Placing cacti and succulents in a spot where sunlight is inevitable is a good start. However, make sure to avoid direct sunlight (depending on the variety) to avoid yellowing.

Cactus plants are quite flexible when it comes to temperatures and have a robust capacity to live in the rapidly changing desert environment. The lowest temperature that cacti can endure does depend on the species. Some have been known to survive freezing temperatures, but many are best kept around 8°C during the colder months.

Sufficient drainage = happy plants…

The ideal home for a cactus is a pot with good drainage. Always make sure the plant is able to let go of excess water by placing it in an open and free-draining pot to prevent water logging.

Speaking of water, one of the most important things to remember is the amount of water needed to keep cactus plants alive. Cacti are well-known for their stubborn nature – they won’t be happy with too much water and they won’t be happy with too little either. Admittedly, they thrive with much less water than the average house plant, but this is not to say that you should leave them dry for excessive amounts of time. Under-watering does cause shrivelling, and trust me, this is not a good look.

They also tend to develop blisters and adopt a more stubborn personality if too much water is given – this is definitely not a good look. So, make sure to follow these quick and simple instructions if you’d like your plant to (probably) outlive you:

  • During the spring and summer months, it is safe to quench your plant’s thirst, but only when the compost is dry. Over-watering will stunt growth, so once a week is a handy guideline, but it’s definitely possible to go even longer without watering at this time.
  • In winter, he will be perfectly happy waiting longer between watering sessions and some cacti can even be left dry from around November to February. This does depend on the species of cacti though!

Fun fact – The oldest cactus lived to around 300 years old, was 40ft tall and had 52 arms… now that is something to aim for.

Click here if you’re interested in getting your own cactus!

Makes and Fun Spots

Dangerous Plants: Top Ten Plant Defences



Acacia trees hire aggressive ant species to guard their leaves from grazers. Image Credit: Marta Maszkiewicz

Bulbasaur mainly uses his vines and powders to attack and defend against enemies. He isn’t alone! Plants have some pretty mean defences to stop them from being eaten by animals and prevent competition from other plant species. Plant and plant products have even been used in wars and assassinations. This list looks at some of the deadliest plant defence mechanisms.

Thorns and spines

Thorns and spines are a simple physical form of defence that discourage animals from eating the plant by causing pain. Thorns jut out from branches, while spines are modified leaves that are extension of the plant’s vein. A similar spiky defence is the prickle, which are commonly found on roses. That’s right, the Poison song should really say “Every rose has a prickle”.

Trichomes

Trichomes is a fancy word for the little hairs you sometimes see on plant stems. They can have multiple purposes, but the most painful and deadly are found in nettles. You may be thinking I have been stung by a nettle before and I am still alive, but that is because you were lucky enough to be stung by the Common Nettle. Some tropical nettles, such as the gympie-gympie, have stings so painful that they can drive people insane. It has been known to kill dogs and horses out of pain and shock, and its stinging effects can last for as long as one year. Even breathing in some of these trichomes that are floating in the air can cause nosebleeds.

Mutualism

Some plants team up with other creatures in a mutual agreement of sorts. Mutualism is seen throughout the natural world for both defence and other reasons. For example, we have a mutualistic relationship with the bacteria in our guts: they help us digest food and we give them a nice place to live. Mutualism can be painful, however. Some plants such as acacia trees have ‘hired’ aggressive ant species to guard their leaves from grazers and other competing plants in exchange for a home. The ants are also thought to help keep harmful pathogens at bay. One of these mercenaries, the Bullhorn Acacia ant, is listed on ants.com’s list of ‘5 Ants with the Most Painful Bites’. Ouch!

Bother one tree, you’ve bothered them all

When insects invade a tree, the tree ups its defences to try and ward them off. If that wasn’t bad enough, research has suggested that trees can also send messages to neighbouring trees using something called the mycorrhizal network. These connections are made by fungi and are used by plants to share water, nutrients and minerals. When one tree is suffering too much damage from an insect swarm, it is thought to warn other trees around it, triggering them to also up their defences. Lab studies found reactions occurred in as little as six hours.

Tannins

Insects can have a hard time when it comes to finding a meal. Their huge population sizes can cause real stress on a plant, so plants take great priority in warding the critters off. One method is to produce tannins, a yellowy-brown, bitter-tasting substance that binds to the insect’s proteins and limits their ability to grow and develop. These tannins also form bonds between metal ions in the insects’ midgut, causing their intestines to tear.

Poisonous seeds

We all know the story of Snow White eating the poisonous apple. If Snow White were an insect, that fate would be all the more likely. Apple seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, which are harmless when the seed is whole. However, when it is crushed or chewed, this chemical transforms into cyanide. Luckily, an 180-pound individual would have to eat at least 243 crushed apple seeds before seeing an effect, but some animals could be at risk. Low levels of cyanide poisoning causes headaches, nausea, weakness and confusion, while acute poisoning can be deadly.

Digitalin

Digitalin is a powerful steroid that is found in around 20 plant species, including the Foxglove plant. Too much of this chemical can lead to dangerous cardiac rhythm disturbances due to a build up of potassium in the blood. This can cause fatal symptoms due to the heart moving too slow (electrical heart block) or too fast (ventricular fibrillation). In 2016, a girl spent six days in hospital for eating a single leaf. They also have a bitter taste and can cause vomiting. That doesn’t mean the chemical can’t be used for good. Foxglove leaves were dispensed in WWI in measured doses to control heart conditions. More than 16 tonnes were used each year.

Idioblasts

Idioblasts are plant cells that, in their more innocent uses, store pigments, vitamins and minerals. They are more dangerous when used for defence. Dieffenbachia, also known as Dumb Cane, stores specialised chemicals in its idioblasts that shoot barbed calcium oxalate crystals into the unsuspecting herbivores’ mouth before giving a dose of enzymes that can cause paralysis and loss of speech. This painful concoction can be deadly, with only 15mg per kg needed to kill a mouse. Even if you avoid a deadly dose, the burning effects can last up to two weeks.

Heatwave – The chilli pepper

As you may know from putting too many in your curry, the chilli pepper can cause a painful burning sensation when eaten due to capsaicinoids. This is a defence mechanism to stop the growth of a microbial fungus, which likes to eat them. Being eaten isn’t all that bad for a chilli, if they’re being eaten by birds. In fact, birds eat the seeds and disperse them in their droppings, allowing the chillis to reproduce. The fungus, however, destroys the seeds. Therefore, the plant uses capsaicin to fend off the fungus, while birds are not affected.

Chilli plants have also been used in human wars. A bomb made of red chillies was developed in 2008 to create a type of stinging smokescreen. It was also used to debilitate enemies in hideouts.

What may the future bring? – Using plants in human wars

Last year, researchers at the University of Tennessee and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced a programme that aimed to genetically modify potato plants to act as a surveillance unit. The plants would identify chemical, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats to support human operations and ground troops.

This isn’t the only genetic editing programme being run by DARPA, with reports earlier this year of concerns that the organisation could use its ‘Insect Allies‘ programme for military purposes.

Makes and Fun Spots

Pokémon-Themed Outfits: Bulbasaur

You love Pokémon? Well now you can dress like them too! This set of posts are designed to give you some inspirations so you can pull together some outfits based on your favourite Pokémon! The styles are all simple, so you can achieve the look no matter what your budget! These outfits were drawn by Elaineayana.

For Bulbasaur, we’ve gone for an effortless white long-sleeved shirt. This one features a button-down front and two front pockets, but this flexible style can be adjusted to suit your tastes. The shirt is paired with a teal coat/jacket and a high-waist green midi skirt. Match with a pair of light grey or white ankle boots and you’re on to a winner!

Get the look:

Below are some examples of these items. But, you can find them anywhere with a quick search. Remember to check your wardrobe!

Tall White Linen Blend Long Sleeved Shirt
Waterfall Collar Pocket Front Wrap Coat
Pocket Front Crepe Skater Midi Skirt
(Alternative Shade) Tall Button Front Floaty Midi Skirt
(Alternative Shade) Midi Skirt in Army Green
Slouchy Light Grey Ankle Boots
White Leather Ankle Boots

Want to be less subtle? Try this Bulbasaur bag!

Found any good bargains? Post your finds below!

Makes and Fun Spots

Make Some Bulbasaur Biscuits!

My Bulbasaur loves to bake and he asked me to share one of his favourite recipes with you . We hope you enjoy making some Bulbasaur Biscuits!

What do I need?

170g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cap of vanilla essence
400g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of salt
300g chocolate
Chocolate decorations

Mixing bowl and spoon
Weighing scales
Rolling pin
Bulbasaur cookie cutter (I used the Cuticuter ones, but you can also get similar ones on Etsy)
Baking tray
Clingfilm
Baking paper
Microwave and microwave-safe bowl for melting chocolate
Spoon or knife (pallet knife or butter knife are good)

Step #1

Cut the butter into small cubes and place in a mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar. This might be more difficult if the butter has been in the fridge!

Step #2

Add the eggs, flour, salt and vanilla essence into the butter mixture. You could sieve the flour for fewer flowery lumps. Mix well – you might want to use your hands.

You might need to add some more flour if your dough is too firm. Once a dough is formed, split in half and mould each half into flat ovals – splitting in two batches makes it easier to cook later. Wrap in clingfilm and put them in the fridge for at least one hour.

Step #3


Line a baking tray with baking paper and set the oven to 170°C (338°F).

Roll out one of your dough ovals on a floured surface to around 1/2cm-1cm thick, depending on how thick you want your biscuits to be! If you’re using the same cookie cutter as me, use the bottom part (the ‘outline cutter’ seen in the picture above) to cut a piece of dough near the edge. Leave this cut-out inside the ‘outline cutter’ and take the other part of the cutter (the part with Bulbasaur’s details on) and press lightly into the dough. It should fit exactly into the ‘outline cutter’. Be careful not to push too hard, I found it was best to push so the back of the ‘detail-cutter’ was level with the ‘outline cutter’.

Step #4

Place your Bulbasaur on the baking tray, spacing them out evenly. Put your biscuits in the oven for 8-12 minutes.

Step #5

When cooked, place on a wire rack (or an upturned baking tray lined with baking paper will do!) to cool.

Step #6

Make up your second batch, following the same steps above. Remember to wash up after they’re all done!

Step #7

To decorate, snap your chocolate to pieces in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in small bursts of no more than 10 seconds. In between each, take a metal spoon or knife (a butter or pallet knife are good) to stir the chocolate each time. Careful, as the bowl can get quite hot!

Once melted, carefully dip the back of each Bulbasaur biscuit in the chocolate. You might want to use your pallet knife to wipe off the excess, or spread the chocolate more evenly. Have a tissue handy to wipe chocolate from your fingers so you don’t get too much on the front! You can use all sorts of sprinkles! We went for milk chocolate (left), dark chocolate (middle), just chocolate (right) and we left some plain.

Put the biscuits in the fridge to set.

Step #8

Enjoy!