Boquila trifoliolata is a vine which lives in temperate rainforests in Chile and Argentina. It looks pretty unexciting, but that's just what the plant wants you to think!

This plant will mimic the leaves of any tree it grows on, or even mimic leaves which happen to be nearby. No one knows how it does this.

The vine doesn't need any physical contact to do this. Some botanists think it can "smell" and recognise nearby plants. More outlandishly, others wonder if it might have rudimentary vision.

The idea of plant vision isn't quite as ridiculous as it may first seem.

Some cyanobacteria can "see" by using their entire single-celled bodies to focus light. A little like tiny swimming eyeballs. The idea that higher plants could contain similar structures (called "ocelli") has been hypothesised by botanists for some time. Among others, Francis Darwin (the son of Charles Darwin).

Here's an article from Scientific American with more info:

So plants may be watching you with a collection of tiny, tiny cell-sized eyes.

Watching you, but probably not judging you.


A possibly related phenomenon is called crown shyness – certain species of trees will very politely avoid overshadowing each other in a forest canopy, leaving gaps between each others' branches.

Mostly trees of the same species will do this, but different species of tree have been observed doing this too.

Again, no one's entirely sure how the trees do this, and some botanists are probably arguing about it somewhere right now.

πŸ‡ RVKlein @rvk

I can theorize many reasons why, but I'm contractually obligated not to give away too many secrets of the universe.

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