Natures wonders: parasitic plant with beautiful flowers (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, July 31, 2020, 20:41 (3 days ago) @ David Turell

A stripped down version of a plant with gorgeous flowering of male and female plants:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/parasitic-plant-consists-flashy-flowers-creepy-suckers

"...the flowers are intricate, screaming red showpieces. That’s the total opposite of the unshowy rest of the plant. It has no leaves, just grayish, ropelike tissue that probes through soil and ranks in looks somewhere between blah and dried-up dog droppings.

"The mix of flashy sexual parts and super-simplified other structures makes sense for the plant kingdom’s extreme parasites, including the four known Langsdorffia species. Why grow a lot of greenery to feed yourself when you can steal what you need.

“'They’re vampire plants,” says Thorogood, at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum. Langsdorffia’s underground rope sucks all the nutrition it needs from the roots of other plants, such as figs and mimosas. The burrowing freeloaders “challenge our notion of what plants even do,” he says.

***

"The flowers of L. hypogea species pop out of the ground here and there in Central and South America, including Brazil’s savanna, the cerrado. “Imagine the visual impact,” says Santos, of Universidade Federal de Sergipe in São Cristóvão, Brazil. The flowers bloom during the dry season, erupting in loud reds from a thin carpet of other plants’ dead, brown leaves.

"Unlike many flowers from apples to zinnias that sport both male and female parts, an individual L. hypogea plant is either all male or all female. Each of its knobby blooms burst from the soil as skirted masses of tiny same-sex nubbins. To attract the vital go-between pollinators, males ooze nectar among the nubbins. Females release it from their skirt and in a sweet zone at the base of the main bouquet. It’s a banquet in a parched season. Ants, beetles, cockroaches and even birds such as white-napped jays gather to feast."

Comment: Another weird species part of some balanced ecosystem.


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