Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Mimicry in plants: are we sure this isn’t an SF world?

This is quite amazing: a vine that mimics the leaves of the host tree it climbs. Of course, it’s a vine, so maybe it happens to clamber from one tree to another? No problem; it can mimic each tree in turn.

Endemic to Chile and Argentina, B. trifoliolata is the first documented example of a plant that exhibits mimetic polymorphism, which is the ability to mimic multiple different host species. Researchers found that when this vine was climbing a tree it was able to imitate the host leaves in terms of size, shape, color, orientation and even vein conspicuousness.

Mechanisms by which a plant might do this . . . um . . . you know, apparently this vine can mimic another plant’s leaves even when the vine is not actually in contact with the other plant?

???!!

You think you basically understand how plants work and then you get something like this. I doubt I’ll ever use this kind of mimicry in a story. No one would believe it.

I got the link via David Brin’s website Contrary Brin, by the way. He posted a lot of links to cool science things over weekend.

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