6 May 2015

Omnicloakia Echolalia

The Patagonian vine Boquila trifoliolata.. is a thin-stalked woody climber which can spiral from ground level to high canopy, and is endemic to the temperate forests of South America. Its basic foliage pattern is composed of groups of three roughly spear-shaped leaves. What is not supposed to be possible is that these leaves are able to mimic the colour, shape, size and orientation of those of its host trees... Boquila’s leaves stay within the green-blue spectrum and keep their formation, but as the vine winds through the tree community over weeks and months, the leaves morph to resemble those of each new supporting species, even ones it may never have encountered before. In the space of few metres the leaves of a single vine can be as smooth as an ivy’s, more rounded like box, then bluish and deeply veined, then yellow-green, serrated, oval-ended...  
The Chilean researchers who discovered this mysterious legerdemain made a series of photographs of entwined trees, and had to insert arrows to point out which leaves belong to the vine and which to the host trees, so difficult are they to tell apart. ...They have no idea how the vine does its trick, except that, in being able to cope with unfamiliar situations, it is demonstrating the first principle of intelligence... 
from The Cabaret of Plants by Richard Mabey (2015).

See also Jerry Coyne 

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