Home Science Rare species of fairy lantern flower found in Japanese forest

Rare species of fairy lantern flower found in Japanese forest

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If you haven’t heard of the delicate plant known as the fairy lantern, you’re not alone. Many species are considered extinct because they are so rare. But the news that Japanese researchers have rediscovered a species thought to be lost forever could spark renewed interest in the tiny, colorful plants that seem to shine from within. There is a possibility

In the journal Phytotaxa, researchers tell how they found the evidence. Sithmia covensisa type of fairy lantern plant first discovered in Kobe, Japan, still exists.

A small specimen of the plant was found in the city in 1992, but the plant was thought to be extinct after the site was destroyed to build an industrial park in 1999.

But in June 2021, botanists spotted fairy lanterns on a forest nature trail north of the factory facility, researchers wrote. The search yielded three specimens. This is enough for researchers to analyze the flower, collect her DNA from the dried part of one of the plants, and describe the species in more detail.

The hairy flower base is transparent and shiny, with yellow-orange tubes containing stamens. Like other thythmia, it draws its energy from decaying organic matter in the soil rather than from the sun. Organisms known as saprophytes are typically found in tropical regions.

Researchers believe the similarities between Kobe flowers and flowers found in the prairie near Chicago more than 100 years ago may indicate that the two are related. They speculate that migration across land bridges between Asia and North America may explain the connection.

The discovery is a triumph for botanists, but researchers warn that the plant is still endangered and threatened by the human traffic on the nature trails.

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