Recently in Chile, scientists discovered a plant that can mimic the leaves of different host trees , but the mechanism of how it undertakes its transformation hasn’t been understood. Yet again, scientists from University of the Philippines, Los Baños have discovered another new species of plant that eats metal and it makes us wonder more how complex the botanical world would be.
The plant is known as Rinorea niccolifera and it was discovered to feed on nickel for its sustenance. It absorbs nickel in high amounts (18,000 ppm of the metal) and this amount of consumption could likely poison any other species of plants, but surprisingly it’s nothing sort of poison for Rinorea niccolifera.
This phenomenon of nickel hyperaccumulation is seen only on 0.5-1% of plant species native to nickel-rich soil and only about 450 species are known to have this unusual trait, which is still a small proportion of the estimated 300,000 species of vascular plants.
The plant was discovered in the western part of Luzon Island in the Philippines, an area known for soils rich in heavy metals, says Dr. Marilyn Quimado, one of the lead scientists of the research team.
Augustine Doronila, who is the co-author of the report from University of Mebourne says – “Hyperacccumulator plants have great potentials for the development of green technologies, for example, ‘phytoremediation‘ and ‘phytomining‘.”
Here’s what it looks like: