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One spring day in 1928, Jack Trott noticed strange cracks in the soil in his garden, and when bent to better see them, feel the sweet smell coming from there. The man dug up one of the cracks and found in it a small white plant that grew in the ground. It subsequently emerged that Trott opened previously unknown species of orchids - Rhizanthella Gardneri (Rhizanthella gardneri), or, as it is called in Australia, western subterranean orchid.
This orchid, common only in Western Australia, Rhizanthella Gardneri lifetime conducting underground. The plant grows no more than 8 cm in height and has a thick short rhizome. Unable to draw power from the sun, the orchid is powered by a shrubby plant host Melaleuca uncinata. With this plant rizantella associated fungus Thanatephorus gardneri: mycelia of this fungus grows together with the roots of the bush and penetrates into the fabric orchid.
Thus through the mushroom orchid can consume nutrients and carbon dioxide obtained bushes, and then convert the water, nutrients and carbon dioxide into energy necessary for life.
Today Rhizanthella Gardneri listed in the International Red Book and belongs to the species are on the brink of extinction. Scientists believe that the reduction of the associated, above all, the destruction of a large number of shrubs in Western Australia for agriculture. Currently it is known only to the six populations of this species, which is near the city Korrigin and the southern coast of the country. Three of them are protected in reserves.
Interestingly, the breed can Rhizanthella Gardneri vegetatively or by underground insects, such as termites. Attracted by the scent of pollinating insects orchid flowers.