Home Uncategorized New flower discovered in Australia smells like rotting fish

New flower discovered in Australia smells like rotting fish

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A new species of plant has been found in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia, and it sure does not
smell like roses. Identified by local botanist Greg Steenbeeke from the
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, this little sunset-coloured,
2-centimetre-tall flower has been named Thismia megalongensis.

“I’ve gone past the point where we found the plant several times a year for two decades and never knew it was there,” Steenbeeke told Nicky Philips at The Sydney Morning Herald.
“While it has a beautiful appearance with tiny orange flowers, this is
no rose; the orange flowers give off a fungal odour when fresh and start
to smell like ‘rotting fish’ as they decay.”
T. megalongensis belongs to a genus of plants commonly known
as ‘fairy lanterns’, because their shape and warm, glowing colour make
them look like you could just pick one up and light a room with it – if
you were the height of an iPhone. There are just almost 50 known species
of fairy laterns around the world, found mostly in South-East Asia and
South America. Back in 2003, a subterranean species was found in another
area of New South Wales, and this one looks even more like a tiny lantern.

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DNA testing, carried out by botanist Vincent Merckx at Leiden University in the Netherlands, revealed that T. megalongensis’s closest
relative is a fairy lantern native to New Zealand. “The connection
suggests it has evolved in isolation for a very long time,” Steenbeeke told The Sydney Morning Herald,
“and genetic research on the plant’s ‘molecular clock’ – a means of
determining the time since separation from a common ancestor – suggests
that these species actually separated from each other in the last
400,000 years.”
And yep, this little beauty doesn’t smell great.
The scientists suspect that the plant has developed its unique stench by
feeding off the fungi that grow alongside it on the forest floor. The
strategy of smelling super-gross – as opposed to lovely, like many other
species of flowering plants – is to attract a different kind of
pollinator. Just like the enormous and pungent corpse flowers that smell terrible to attract scavenging flies and beetles, T. megalongensis smells like rotting flesh to attract gnats, which normally feed off algae, fungi, other insects, and blood.

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