Rare “ghost plants” found flourishing in SW China’s Yunnan after discovery in nature reserve

(People's Daily Online) 16:25, May 09, 2022

Monotropa uniflora, also known as the “ghost plant,” was spotted and photographed for the first time in the Daweishan National Nature Reserve located in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. The plant is the prototype for the “ghost flower” as seen in many Chinese wuxia (martial heroes) novels.

Recent rainfall has given the forest a clear new look inside the nature reserve, where the plants can be seen sprouting in clusters from the moist soil. The “ghost plant” appears white and clean like a piece of crystal jade. Its stem stands upright, reaching heights of over 10 centimeters. In Chinese wuxia novels, it has often been referred to as the “ghost flower,” “orchid of dreams” or “flower of the underworld.”

As local staff at the nature reserve explained, the plant does not contain any chlorophyll. Instead of generating food using the energy provided by sunlight, it lives on a symbiotic relationship with host fungi present among rotting leaves. Besides, a suitable environment for the plant to grow is hard to find, yet the local ecology of the Daweishan National Nature Reserve provides a good environment for the plant to flourish. 

(Photo/Courtesy of the media convergence center of Pingbian county)


(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Liang Jun)


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