Did you know that there are 4,000 new plant species discovered each year? That’s a lot of new plants waiting to be discovered and catalogued. And scientists are working hard to find them all.
The discovery of new plant species is being taken to another level. Scientists are discovering species that are so rare and something that they have never seen before. And, this discovery is happening on regular basis too. For example, scientists are still finding species, like Archaeopteris, that have been around since the age of the dinosaurs. Isn’t that something to be marveled about?
Some of the world’s rarest plants have been discovered in surprisingly unexpected places—or, at least, in locations that haven’t been previously known. Some of these plants weren’t even considered natural until very recently. The tropics have long been known to harbor plants that are more or less unknown to science. And recently, botanists have uncovered more “new” plants in jungles and forests around the country. Here are some of the most surprising ones:
Uvariopsis Dicaprio is a parasitic fungus species whose life cycle includes parasitic wasps. It hosts in the trachea of vertebrates in the families Acanthaciidae, Pterostichidae, Sphecidae, and Staphylinidae. The fungus grows in the trachea, lays its eggs inside the host, and feeds off the host’s blood. Two genera of parasitic wasps are parasitized by Uvariopsis Dicaprio: Cephus lapidarius and Bucculatrix Dicaprio.
Uvariopsis Dicaprio, the velvet coral fungu
s, is a fruticose fungus that grows in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world. This fungus is distinguished by its velvety appearance, having short septa that join together to give the appearance of velvet. The septa are pale gray-green to gray-brown and hollow, and they are the adjacent parts of the fungus that may fuse together. The mushroom caps are up to 4.5 inches (11 centimeters) across, and if they are mature, the cap is flat with a depressed center, and the margin is entire or minutely toothed. The stem is up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) tall, thick and white, hollow, and initially covered with velvet but later becoming covered with whitish scales. The mushroom flesh also appears white, gelatinous, and sticky.
The voodoo lily, or Canna lilies, are a favorite of many gardeners and florists. It is one of the most beautiful flowers around and is considered a “double-duty plant” because it provides both leaves and flowers. Canna lilies are vines that produce white flowers with clusters of tiny green berries, which turn black when ripe. These vines can grow 10-12 feet, and the flowers can grow up to 4 inches. The flowers usually bloom in mid-spring to early summer.
A voodoo lily, or gesneriad, is a variety of flowering plants with a tuberous root, which is typically orange or tan in color. These lilies are typically grown indoors in pots, but they also thrive in hot and dry climates. Their roots need plenty of water, even during the summer when the soil is dry. Voodoo lilies produce beautiful red, orange, yellow, pink, or white blossoms in late spring or early summer. The leaves of these species turn a deep scarlet in the fall, and their blooms can last more than two months in optimal conditions.
The ghost orchid (or spider orchid) has been around for centuries, but it’s only recently that scientists have discovered how this orchid is able to reproduce asexually. Instead of the spider orchid’s old method of spreading its seeds by dropping them from a tall tree, scientists discovered a new style of propagating the orchid: by shooting out its seeds from its cataphylls, or leaf-like sheaths, instead of from the stalk. Although it is rare, ghost orchids do leave cataphylls behind, and this has allowed scientists to make the discovery.
Scientifically termed Caloplaca daemia, these ghost orchids also go by the name phantom orchid, which is not technically an orchid. It is a plant that belongs to the genus Caloplaca. Although some botanists claim that it’s related to the Orchidaceae family, it is considered a separate, new genus. The ghost orchid is native to the rainforests of South America. But, because of its unusual and unique appearance, it has also found its way into greenhouses around the world.
The ghost orchid is believed to be named after Phantom of the Opera, a popular musical from 1986. The orchid, which is also known as a lady’s slipper orchid, is native to Southeast Asia and developing rapidly in recent years. The orchid only blooms at night and can last for more than two weeks.
The Science of Nature has been reporting on new species discoveries from around the world for over 20 years. We have always been fascinated by the amazing places plants and animals live, and new findings often tend to provide unique insights into nature. Hopefully, in the near future, we can come across more new species like these.