Suicidal plant discovered

January 28, 2008

Botanists are marveling at the discovery of a towering palm tree on Madagascar that essentially flowers itself to death.

The palm has a huge trunk that reaches a whopping 59 feet (18 meters) in height and is topped by fan leaves 16 feet (5 meters) in diameter. The tree is the most massive palm ever found on the richly diverse island and one of the largest known flowering plants — the trees can even be spotted on Google Earth.

Hundreds of tiny flowers that burst from the treetop are pollinated by insects and birds and develop into fruit. As soon as the tree fruits, its nutrient reserves are depleted and the entire tree topples and dies.



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