Now you see me...

This plant literally evolved to avoid humans

Can you spot it in this picture?

Yang Niu

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But one species of plants have evolved to be invisible to humans, according to a new paper in Current Biology.

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Scientists found that the plant Fritillaria delavayi, which humans use for medicinal purposes, has adapted to blend in with its rock-covered surroundings — seemingly to trick human harvesters.

Fritillaria delavayi is a perennial herb growing on the rocky slopes of China’s Hengduan mountains.

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Humans have spent the last 2,000 years harvesting the plant’s bulb to use in medicine.

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Some individuals grow a greyish brown color...

Yang Niu

...and some grow bright green.

Yang Niu

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When studying the evolution of the plant’s camouflage, the researchers realized that herbivorous animals couldn’t explain why the plant had tried to blend in.

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The team studied the plant’s ability to blend into its environment and surveyed local people who harvested the plant.

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Yang Niu

It turns out the herb grows a greyish brown color to match the surrounding rocks of its habitat in places where harvesting is more frequent.

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Read more science and nature stories here.

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