Vine Is Master of Disguise

Newly discovered plant mimics everything

Camoflage vine News science OutsideOnline

Scientists have seen this type of mimicry only in butterflies before finding it in the South American vine.     Photo: Top Photo Corporation/Thinkstock

A recently discovered vine in Chile and Argentina has camouflage and mimicry characteristics never before seen in the plant realm. With the ability to change its shape, size, color, orientation, and even its vein pattern to match the surrounding trees, the vine has the scientific community fascinated. 

The woody vine, named Boquila trifoliolata, can also imitate several hosts at a time, a trait researchers previously had seen only in butterflies. If the vine grows from one tree to another with vastly different leaf size and color, this chameleon vine will adjust and imitate each tree respectively.

This adaptability is thought to be a defense mechanism against leaf eaters, but it remains unclear how the vine identifies the different traits of its host.

Researchers believe the vine may take cues from odor and chemicals released by the trees and their microbes, which might hold gene-activating signals that trigger the vine.

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