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Spigelia Genuflexa, 'Genuflecting' Plant Buries Its Own Seeds


First Posted: 10/01/11 04:21 PM ET Updated: 11/30/11 05:12 AM ET

A new species of plant that spreads its own seeds has been discovered in Brazil. The plant, whose seed-dropping motion resembles genuflection, was named Spigelia genuflexa.

BBC News reports that the plant's branches form fruits and then drop towards the ground to deposit "the capsules of seeds ... and sometimes [bury] them in the soft cover of moss."

The discovery, reported in PhytoKeys, was made by José Carlos Mendes Santos, a handyman working for botanist Alex Popovkin in Bahia, Brazil.

The handyman found the inch-high plant behind a bush, according to a press release.

Popovkin brought the plant indoors and placed pictures online, hoping it would be identified. It took scientists from three universities to figure it out.

Live Science reports "Scientists from Rutgers University, the State University at Feira de Santana in Bahia, and Western Carolina University collaborated to confirm that the plant was indeed a new species."

The plant's behavior is an example of geocarpy, which is "a rare adaptation to survival in harsh or short-lived environments with small favorable patches," according to Discover.

Lena Struwe, a botanist at Rutgers, told the BBC, "In this species, it is most likely that because it is so short-lived (just a few months) and lives in small fragments of suitable environments, the mother plant is most successful if she deposits her seeds right next to herself, [rather than] spreading them around far into less suitable environments."

Scientists in India recently discovered 12 new frog species. Also in recent news, scientists in Utah discovered a new species of raptor dinosaurfor the first time in over 75 years.

Image courtesy of Alex Popovkin on Flickr.

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Filed by James Gerken  |  Report Corrections