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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Self-Destructing Palm

Apparently Botanists have discovered a new species of self-destructing palm on Madagascar. The plant is so big it can be picked up by satellite.

The plant is 20m high with 5m leaves. For most of its 100 year life span it looks unremarkable but it has a remarkable flowering pattern.

"It's spectacular," says Mijoro Rakotoarinivo, who works with Kew Gardens.

"At first there's only a very long shoot like asparagus from the top of the tree and then, a few weeks later, this unique shoot starts to destruct.

"At the end of this process you can have something like a Christmas tree."

The branches then become covered with hundreds of tiny flowers, which are pollinated and turn into fruit. The tree expends so much energy on flowering that it eventually collapses and dies.

What puzzles scientists is how the tree came to be in Madagascar, it bears a resemblance to a species of palm found in Asia but that is 6,000km away. It is hypothesized that it has gone through a spectacular evolution since Madagascar 80 million years ago.

1 comment:

oldcrow61 said...

That's very interesting. Quite the tree.