"So, naturalists observe, a flea has smaller fleas that on him prey; and these have smaller still to bite ’em; and so proceed ad infinitum."
- Jonathan Swift

December 29, 2010

December 29 - Eremitilla mexicana

Back in 1985, Wayt Thomas, a scientist from the New York Botanical Garden discovered an unusual plant in Mexico. It had a little bloom of dense flowers that kind of looked like a pinecone and nothing else but a thick stalk - no leaves or chlorophyll anywhere. It was so unusual that Thomas did not know what it was and could only speculate as to even what family it might be in. The strange plant eventually made its way to George Yatskievych at the Missouri Botanical Garden and twenty years after it was first discovered, he traveled back to Mexico in search of more. He went to the same location - and even employed the very same guide that Thomas had - and finally, after several days of hunting through stream beds in the Sierra Madre del Sur, they found a small population and took a few samples and many photographs. They did not collect very many because it is believed to only occur in this one small region - it has never been observed elsewhere. A second trip allowed Yatskievych to identify the host plants as Hedyosmum mexicanum and it has now been named Eremitilla mexicana, which means "little Mexican hermit."

Photo by George Yatskievych.


  1. umm.. susan,you didnt explained why this is a parasite ..

  2. Because it has no leaves or chlorophyll which means it doesn't do its own photosynthesis. It's a holoparasite like Rafflesia arnoldii (featured on Jan 23) which means it is completely dependent on the host plant for nutrients.