Take a long climb in the Henguan Mountains near Yulong, China, where you will find Fritillaria delava. Small, beautiful plants with elegant green leaves and bell-shaped yellow flowers. Each one emerges against a report brooch-like gray scree.
Trekking 65 miles in the same mountain range, you will have to work very hard to find plants of the same species. There, f. Delaware plants are dull brown like the rocks they live on. Next to the tiger, they are instead dark gray and reddish-brown in the fugue.
Why does this one race come in so many colors? It may be hidden from you.
According to An article published last month on current biology, F. Delaware has created many unique color variants because people harvest its bulbs. This finding suggests that plants are the latest example in the list of growing organisms Carelessly Influenced Creating new attributes.
The Impressive Tricks animals Application Disguise is familiar to most people, but plant camouflage receives less attention. Yang Niu, researcher at the Kunming Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and editor-in-chief of the new study Years passed Documenting possible examples of how plants hide themselves. There may be leaves formed by some wild plants Make it hard Plant species find them. Lithops, Also known as “living stone plants”, which look like pebbles.
These plants usually try to fool something. He said another alpine plant Corydalis bencinkta, which Dr. New is studying, has a “special enemy” – a butterfly whose caterpillars wipe the leaves of the plant. In response, the green plant in general Has created a subtle gray chest.
“Other types of camouflage plants like this have been reported in other parts of the world – and they have enemies,” he said. F. The contrasting color of Delaware was initially confusing because no animal seemed to eat it.
But its bulbs and other Fritillaria plants are common medicinal products used to treat coughs. People have been harvesting them for over 2,000 years. What do we mean by the enemy of this plant? If so, F. in areas that experience more intense collection than in areas where people take it seriously. Delaware plants should have excellent camouflage.
To test this, the researchers focused on eight plant populations. To determine the harvest pressure at each site, they asked records from the herb sellers, and each f. They used them to find that the proportion of the population of Delaware was taken for six years each year. They also assessed how difficult it is to collect plants on different sites.
To determine how closely the plants fit in with their background, they took rock and leaf samples from each site and compared the color and intensity of the light they reflected.
To establish whether a close match really makes it more difficult to see the plants, they developed an online game “Spot plant ” – It f in different places. Shows photos of Delaware plants, with instructions for clicking on them quickly. Local collectors told researchers that they noticed plants mimicking better in some places, Dr New said.
When they combined these measurements together, they matched as expected. Often alone f. For the people of Delaware, it is enough to be green. But those with higher harvest pressure will now fade into the background, be it brown, reddish-brown or gray.
Ilik Zacheri, a professor of environmental genetics at the University of Liverpool, said the study “makes a very strong case” that humans are driving the plant’s camouflage. Examines color change in moths and butterflies Not involved in this work. However, he said further tests would increase the evidence.
As people constantly interact with other creatures, it is good to remember that there are movements that respond to other creatures.
“Humans have been artificially selecting all kinds of plants, animals and yeasts for thousands of years,” Dr. Sacherry said. “This is a great example of being chosen by chance.”