A plant believed to be extinct has been found in Japan

Although he does not have a Hungarian name, his English name is very telling – fairy lantern – For this Thismia The genus, whose representative is believed to be extinct. These plants stopped photosynthesis and used the nutrients of other plants for their own development with the help of fungi attached to the roots. About 90 species are known all over the world, and their above-ground flowers are very small, just a few millimeters, 1-2 cm from each. Its distribution area is East and Southeast Asia, Australia and part of Oceania, as well as North America.

It was discovered in Kobe, Japan, in 1992 Thismia kobensis The species mentioned in only one place, however, due to the construction of an industrial facility there, the habitat was destroyed and thus the species is believed to be extinct till now. Recently, however, the Kobe University His specialist, Kendzsi Suecugu, and colleagues found this special fairy lantern again at another site 30 kilometers from here, after many years of searching. On the discovery and subsequent investigations a phytotaxa Reported in a professional magazine.

Thismia kobensis in the newly discovered habitat. The scale next to the flowers is half a centimeter, so the flowers themselves are not larger than a centimeter.

Source: Phytotaxa

Thanks to the discovery, they were finally able to properly examine the flower, which until now had only an incomplete museum specimen, so that it could now be fully described and compared with other related species. With the help of this, it was also possible to create a genealogical tree of the genus.

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Thismia kobensis (above) is close, but shows distinct features Thismia huangii (bottom)

Source: Kobe University

The discovery also indicates that the northernmost occurrence of this type of plant is in Asia, and experts can also explain that the only fairy lantern in North America, Thismia americana I wonder how he got to the continent. For this, it was necessary to know: the closest relative of the American species is not an Australian relative, but a species that was rediscovered near Kobe! According to the researchers, the fairy lantern The Bering Land Bridge can also be crossed into America, its only known habitat there.

The American continent is the only one fairy lantern It can reach its habitat via the Bering Land Bridge, and its closest relative is the Kobe flower trees.

Source: Kobe University

the fairy lanterns Incredibly hard to find plants, only for a very short time can you see their tiny flowers sticking out of the ground, but they are often hidden in the wet debris. The Japanese plant species currently inhabits an area barely the size of a room, and the researchers were only able to identify 20 individuals, so the Nature Conservancy designation may be critically endangered. Plants that depend on these fungi cannot be artificially preserved, so there is likely only a chance they will be preserved in their natural habitat. Despite this, the researchers believe that botanical gardens that have experience with orchids with a similar lifestyle could try to reproduce them artificially.

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