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Vesmír č. 10
Vesmír č. 10
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2. 10. 2017
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Ohnivá sněženka

Fiery snowdrop by Helena Štorchová.

A plant from the family Monotropaceae Sarcodes sanguinea (snow plant) starts to flower in early spring in Sierra Nevada mountain forests. It is very different from European snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), particularly owing to its bright purple color. Not only flowers, but an entire individual is fiery red. Absence of green color is caused by the lack of chlorophyl. S. sanguinea is not able to perform photosynthesis and conducts a parasitic lifestyle. It takes organic compounds from fungi living in contacts with its roots. S. sanguinea is a cheating plant – its ancestors lived in symbiosis with fungi (mycorhisis) and some fungi still consider it to be a partner, not a parasite. After coming to contact with S. sanguinea, there is no escape and fungi should supply snow plant with mineral nutrient and sugars. The reason for prominent red color of S. sanguinea is not completely understood. It may attract pollinators as well as protect the plant against intensive UV light at high altitudes.