The community of scientist has worked long and hard finally discovering something amazing about this underground orchid.
The Rhizanthella gardneri, more commonly known as the Western Underground Orchid, is an endangered orchid with quite unique characteristics. This plant measures about 2.5 to 3 cm and can live underground, even producing blooms there too. It grows a small white flower about a half an inch in width and produces a sweet aroma.
This genus of orchid doesn’t require photosynthesis to nourish itself. It actually uses specialized fungi to provide the nutrients that it needs. But the thing with this one is it amazingly still has some genes of chloroplasts in it. This means that even though it doesn’t create its own food through photosynthesis, it still has some genes for that process in it. This is unique compared to other plants that don’t use photosynthesis either.
This discovery makes it the smallest of all known plants of its kind (the parasitic fungi kind, that is).
Also because of this discovery, scientists have gained some idea about how parasites and human diseases like malaria work. This information could also be useful in research for these types of parasite-caused diseases.
Another good thing about this discovery is that the people that help conserve this species can have more information on its genetic diversity. The people who are involved in this are now ever more cautious because these orchids are certainly unique and iconic. They are currently asking everyone for help in raising awareness and helping these orchids.
As technology advances so does the knowledge we have on everything in this world. I hope that we can also use this knowledge to help the endangered species of our world, like this orchid, see the light of day, so to speak.
What do you think of the underground orchid? Share us your thoughts and leave us a comment below.
Have questions about your orchids? Get some answers with these Orchid Growing FAQs.