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Odd parasitic plant with fleshy flowers recognized as new species of hydnora



A evaluation of hydnora crops has recognized one new species based mostly on preserved specimens and reinstated two others, bringing the full quantity to 10


18 January 2023

Dried flowers of Hydnora bolinii

Sebastian Hatt

A brand new-to-science species of a foul-smelling parasitic plant often known as hydnora has been recognized from preserved specimens.

Hydnora don’t appear to be typical crops, as they lack leaves as a result of they don’t carry out photosynthesis to remain alive. As an alternative, they leach their vitamins from the roots of host crops, typically acacia bushes or euphorbia succulents.

They’re native to Africa and the Arabian peninsula, and their warty stems principally stay hidden underground. Nonetheless, every year after heavy rains, fleshy flowers resembling thick-skinned papaya burst out. As soon as absolutely opened, the flowers produce an odour of faeces to draw pollinating dung beetles.

Hydnora additionally produce a fruit that grows underground and resembles a potato. That is very astringent and is typically used for tanning and preserving fishing nets.

Hydnora africana flowers growing in South Africa

Hydnora africana flowers rising in South Africa

Sebastian Hatt

Beforehand, solely eight species of hydnora – which was first described in 1775 – had been recognized to science. Now, after reviewing the scientific literature and preserved specimens, Sebastian Hatt on the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London and his colleagues say there are at the least 10 distinct species. These embody the brand new species Hydnora bolinii, present in Ethiopia and Somalia, which differs from different species within the form of its fleshy petals. The examine additionally redefines Hydnora hanningtonii and Hydnora solmsiana as distinct species.

However the group says rather more analysis is required to correctly perceive this extraordinary plant, together with why it targets particular host crops and the way endangered totally different species is likely to be.

Reference: bioRxiv, DOI: 10.1101/2022.10.13.512068

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