Patches of white sand dot the Campos Rupestres savanna in Brazil’s central highlands. One of the strangest plants that thrives in these tracts of nutrient-poor soil is a spiny, purple-flowered genus called Philcoxia, which inexplicably grows with its leaves buried underground. Researchers have now discovered why: The leaves are a snare for tiny worms that the plant absorbs and eats.
The strategy makes sense in the plant’s barren, rocky environment – despite the apparently counterproductive adaption of burying light-harvesting leaves underground in the dark. Learn more here or here.