The strangeness of the living: a parasitic flower that feeds on other plants

Une fleur d

Science fiction is crazy about the notion of parasitism: foreign organisms that penetrate others to survive and eventually control or devour them. If literature and cinema are full of examples of this genre, so is nature. Hydnora africana is a South African plant singled out in the plant world for its appearance and way of life!

It is angiosperms, that is flowering plant, a primitive that has no leaves and that can survive only by parasitizing on other plants. It is the only angiosperm parasite strict. Another peculiarity, it is a non-chlorophyll plant, which does not chlorophyll, an essential pigment for photosynthesis. Feed, Hydnora africana suck them nutrients plants on which it parasitizes, especially those of the genus Euphorbia. AND enzyme it allows him to dissolve the root wall of the host and attach his own to it. As mushroom, the plant remains invisible in the ground until it blooms!

And what a flower !! Three huge ones petals tubular and dense exits from Earth which then form a trap pollinators. The bugs attracted by the stinking odor it emits Hydnora africana enter the flower through the interspaces between the petals that are marginal anthers, the male organ of the plant. They are covered pollen, the insects end their journey in the center of the flower where ova. Hydnora africana he holds them prisoners for several days before releasing them. The fertilization gives birth to a fruit that ripens after only two years!

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