New species of parasitic plant discovered on Japanese island

New species of parasitic plant discovered on Japanese island

Instead of photosynthesis, these plants steal nutrients from fungi.

Bryan Nelson

japonica

The new species of Sciaphila yakushimensis (left) and the closely related Sciaphila japonica (right). (Photo: Kobe University)

An oddball new species of plant, classified as Sciaphila yakushimensis, has been discovered on the Japanese island of Yakushima that has abandoned the use of photosynthesis to instead become a parasite that feeds on fungi, reports Science Daily.

It’s a twist that turns the tables on their hosts, since it’s usually the fungi that feed off the nutrients in their surrounding environment. The surprising find could cause researchers to reassess the ecological value of the lowland laurel forests of Yakushima, where the new plant was discovered. Read more.