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Latex-Emitting Dandelions

Ever snap off a dandelion head and see the white liquid seeping out from the stem? It turns out that fluid isn’t sap or poison, but a defense mechanism, in the form of latex! The Lithuanian word for dandelions is ‘pienė’, which literally translates to milky, for the white liquid. Latex is produced by cells called laticifers, which exist in more than 20 000 plant species, as well as some fungi. Dandelions are fairly special though, as only 6% of temperate plants produce latex, versus 14% of tropical ones.


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