When you think about life on other planets, chances are you don’t think very much about plants. If you dream of seeing aliens, you’re probably hoping you will spot a UFO or receive a communication via SETI. However, the closest we might ever come to seeing alien life could be right here on planet Earth.
In certain parts of the world, it isn’t as easy for plants to grow as it is in others. The things that certain specimens have to learn how to do just to survive makes them more alien in nature than anything else scientists have ever seen. This plant might as well have its own flying saucer!
Meet Thismia neptunis, one of the shyest plants in the world. This rare specimen only grows in Malaysia and it only flowers a few weeks a year making sightings of this plant beyond rare to behold.
The plant was first discovered in 1866 by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari in the Gunung Matang massif (yes, those are words) in western Sarawak, Malaysia. However, it would be another hundred years before it was spotted again.
Then, in 2017 researchers from the Czech Republic looking in the same region stumbled yet again upon this truly special bloom. The plant stands at just 3.5 inches tall, which many believe contribute to why it is so darn hard to find.
It isn’t just hard to find, this plant also has some super weird traits. For example, while other plants rely on the sun to sustain them through the process of photosynthesis, this plant relies solely on fungus!
That’s right, this plant has no need for the sun. That might be part of the reason why it looks so totally one-of-a-kind in its form. No wonder scientists are so excited when they spot this rare plant!
This might look like proof of life on other planets, but the reality it this is just a perfect example of how plants in the natural world learn to adapt in order to thrive.
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