Botanists Discover Giant, Self-Destructing Palm Tree
In case you're wondering, no, that isn't a typo: A team of botanists from London's Kew Gardens has discovered a new species of "self-destructing" palm in Madagascar; the tree is so large that it is clearly visible in satellite images. The long-lived, 60 foot high palm - named Tahina spectabilis (Malagasy for "blessed" or "to be protected") - had never before been seen flowering until this past year, when the botanists caught a glimpse of its spectacular flowering pattern.
"At first there's only a very long shoot like asparagus from the top of the tree and then, a few weeks later, this unique shoot starts to spread. At the end of this process you can have something like a Christmas tree," said Mijoro Rakotoarinivo. She and her colleagues found that the tree expended so much energy flowering that it eventually died - or "self-destructed". They identified 92 individual palms, all located in the same remote area of the island nation. Efforts are now underway to ensure the plant's long-term survival; the botanists will support the villagers' conservation measures and help them sell seeds to generate some much-needed income
Via ::BBC News: Giant palm tree puzzles botanists (news website)