Cherry seeds that were sent into space with Japanese astronauts have shown an astounding growth rate since planting back on Earth.
Taken from a more than 1000 year-old cherry tree outside a Buddhist temple in Gifu, in Central Japan, the 265 seeds were kept at the International Space Station while it was orbiting the Earth back in 2008.
Since being planted 4 years ago in 14 different locations around Japan, it’s claimed that the trees have grown at a much faster rate than ‘normal’ seeds, with many already flowering after only 4 years, rather than the usual 10 years. One of the trees also has a very unusual 5-petalled flower, rather than the usual fluffy, multi-petalled style.
Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a plant physiologist from the University of Tsukuba who is monitoring the trees’ growth has hypothesised that the fast growth rate is because “exposure to stronger cosmic rays accelerated the process of sprouting and overall growth”.
Unfortunately no ‘non-space travelling’ seeds from the same cherry tree were planted at exactly the same time in the same place for proper comparison, as the original plan to take the cherry seeds into space was just a bit of hype to get kids interested in the space mission.
Scientists and botanists in America are reportedly not that excited by the alleged space affect.