Rare flower spotted for just the second time

For just the second time in history, scientists have spotted a rare plant known as Thismia neptunis.
By Joseph Scalise | Sep 28, 2018
A group of researchers from the Czech republic have rediscovered one of the rarest and most elusive plants on Earth, according to a studypublished in the journal Phytotaxa.

The species -- known as Thismia neptunis -- has no leaves, lives underground, and rarely blooms. That lifestyle gives it a unique appearance and biology that is unlike any other flowering species on Earth.

While T. neptunis exists in Sarawak, Borneo, and Malaysia, it is extremely rare. An Italian botanist first discovered itin 1866, when he described it as a 3.5-inch-tall plant with strange protrusions coming out of its cup-shaped body. Though, the finding was extremely lucky because the species only comes above group a few weeks each year.

In fact, after the botanist drew the plant it was not seen again until the researchers behind the new study spotted it last year.

"To our knowledge, it is only the second finding of the species in total," the team wrote in the study, according to Live Science.

neptunis belongs to the Thismia genus, which includes 50 species of living and extinct flowers. The plant is unique in that it does not get nutrients through photosynthesis, nor does it survive as a result of leaves. Rather, as it spends most of its life underground, it feeds on mushrooms.

"Its inconspicuous appearance may potentially contribute to our limited knowledge of its distribution as it may be easily overlooked in the field," the researchers also noted in their study, according to International Business Times.

As the plant has only been documented twice, little is known about it. There are many questions about the species, with one of the biggest being if it should be considered endangered or not. While they are not sure, the team thinks there could less than 50 specimens left in the world. They also think that number could be further cut down by human development. As a result, they hope that some measures may be taken in the future to protect the strange plant before it goes extinct forever.

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