Four new species of Fairy Lanterns have their names

Fairy Lanterns (genus Thismia) are an extraordinarily obscure group of plants. They are usually very small and inconspicuous and can easily be overlooked on the forest floor. That’s why scientists are begining to gather information on their life strategies and evolution only recently. An intriguing hallmark of the whole group is absence of green leaves and green (photosynthetic) organs in general. They do not need them, because the nutrition is provided by symbiotic fungi that are further connected to green plants, mainly trees. Fairy Lanterns are therefore dependent on many different organisms and thus very sensitive to any disturbance of this fragile network. That is why Fairy Lanterns grow almost exclusively in pristine primary forests. And because forests of Pa’Umor are really natural, these amazing plants are very diverse in them. As a proof, a research article describing four new species from the Kelabit Highlands have been recently published (see http://rdcu.be/JfiH). They were named after the most prominent characteristics: acuminata (being pointed on top), laevis (being smooth inside the flower), nigra (black) and viridistriata (possessing green stripes). The first two are quite rare, but the latter two can be found quite easily. Can you do it, too?

 

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