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Amateur botanists in Brazil discover a genuflexing plant
Date:9/14/2011

athews from Western Carolina University, it was confirmed that the genus was indeed Spigelia, to which pinkroot, an old North American herbal remedy against intestinal parasites, also belongs.

Only a few miniscule plants were found in the field the first year. They would die each dry season, only to reappear again at the beginning of the rain season. The plant growing on the window sill soon showed a particular and rare characteristic: after fruits were formed, the fruiting branches would bend down, depositing the capsules with seeds on the ground (and sometimes burying them in the soft cover of moss), thereby ensuring that the seeds would end up as close to the mother plant as possible, facilitating its propagation the following season. This phenomenon, called geocarpy, is a rare adaptation to growing in harsh or ephemeral environments. A famous example of geocarpy is the well-known peanut from the legume family that buries its fruits in the ground. The new species, appropriately named Spigelia genuflexa, is described in an open-access paper published this week by the five collaborators in the taxonomic journal PhytoKeys, from where the article can be downloaded for free.

Mr. Popovkin: This is my first botanical publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Hopefully, there will be more to follow. I had since early adolescence felt attraction to plants, especially tropical plants, when working as a volunteer at the greenhouses of the Botanic Garden of the University of St Petersburg, Russia. It took me 30 years to realize my dream of living in the tropics and studying its plants up close. My daily botanizing walks always bring p
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Contact: Lena Struwe
Struwe@aesop.rutgers.edu
732-932-9711 x235
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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