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Plant lives underground, as fungus parasite

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Dumps photosynthesis. From New Scientist:

A newly discovered Japanese plant spends most of its life hidden underground and steals nutrients from fungi rather than getting its energy from the sun. … The plant’s stem is about 3-9 centimetres long and has between nine and 15 purple star-shaped flowers, which push up above the ground. Suetsugu has named it Sciaphila yakushimensis after the island.

The plant can’t photosynthesise and, like other mycoheterotrophs, steals the carbon it needs from a fungal host. The parasitic plant attracts strands of mycorrhizal fungus into its many hairy roots and then feeds off fungus growing inside the roots.

Because it doesn’t rely on photosynthesising the sun’s light for its energy, it can stay underground, reducing the risk of being eaten by aboveground herbivores. It only pokes through the leaf litter to flower and fruit. More.

File under: Exceptions to everything. Yakushimensis should get along fine in there with the photosynthesis sea slug

See also: Life continues to ignore what evolution experts say

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