A mysterious and strange plant known as Thismia neptunis that needs no sunlight and eats mushrooms reappeared in the rainforest of Borneo, Malaysia after 151 years since it was first documented.
The appearance of the rare plant looks unique, and it seems out of this world. It is also called “myco-heterotroph,” which means it belongs to a group of plant species that do not need chlorophyll. They do not photosynthesize and do not have growing leaves. They just survive underground by sucking fungi, according to LiveScience.
Scientists came across this strange plant in 1866. Odoardo Beccari, an Italian botanist, found this plant in the Gunung Matang massif in western Sarawak in Malaysia. After it was first spotted, nobody has seen it again for more than a century. However, in 2017, scientists from the Czech Republic have found this rare plant again.
The researchers said that the undistinguished appearance of the plant might potentially contribute to their limited knowledge of its distribution as it may be easily overlooked in the field. Its flowering part is only about nine centimeters or 3.5 inches tall. It also grows in the wet dirt of a rainforest alongside the river.
The researchers also said that in their knowledge, it is only the second finding of the species in total. Therefore, they gave it an amended description together with its internal characters and first photographic documentation, as noted by Science Alert.
The plant also has an unusual appearance with a whitish or creamy smooth stem that pokes up from a simple system of roots that sucks nutrients from the underground fungi. It also has a bulb that looks like a swollen thumb and has an opening at the top just like the mouth of a sea-worm. Its flower has three red, hairy appendages that stick vertically like the antennae of a shrimp. The team also does not know how the plant pollinates.
Biologists have been discovering new and long-lost species of plants in rainforests for decades, and the rediscovery of this strange plant is part of their project. The researchers are now hopeful that they might see two more plants that Beccari has described in Malaysia that have not been spotted in a long time.