Mysterious ‘unearthly-colored’ plant turns out to be a new species

(ORDO NEWS) — It was previously thought that there was only one species of Monotropastrum humile in the world.

However, Japanese scientists have discovered that the plant is actually a new species, which fundamentally changes the idea of ​​​​this unusual-looking plant genus.

Green leaves and photosynthesis were once considered integral parts of plants. However, some of them have stopped photosynthesising and instead take the nutrients they need from other organisms.

One of these is Monotropastrum humile, widely distributed in East and Southeast Asia. It often grows in wooded areas where there is little sunlight, getting the nutrients it needs from fungi.

Despite its wide distribution, it was previously believed that there was only one species of this plant in the world.

However, Professor Suetsugu Kenji and his colleagues discovered that the variety found in Japan is actually a new species.

Since it was first discovered in the vicinity of Kirishima in Kagoshima Prefecture, it has been given the name Monotropastrum kirishimense.

The results of various analyzes revealed morphological differences, including the following: flowers and ovaries of M. kirishimense are more rounded than those of M. humile, and its rhizome is more hidden by the surrounding soil (in contrast to the prominent root tips of M. humile). M. kirishimense individuals are shorter above ground (less than 5 cm) and longer below ground (more than 10 cm).

The flowering period is also different; M. humile flowers open about 40 days earlier than M. kirishimense.


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