A medicinal plant from China has learned to hide from people

Man and his activities have long been a decisive factor in the evolution of today's living nature. Fresh evidence of this came from the Kunming Institute of Botany (China), where they studied the phenomenon of the plant Fritillaria delavayi, known as the Delaway hazel grouse. Its numbers have declined sharply in recent years, but upon close inspection, it appears that the number of plants has not actually decreased. They just learned to hide - and not from anyone, but from people.

The inhabitants of the mountainous region of Hengduan have long harvested Delaway hazel grouse for the production of a folk cough medicine. This is not a simple matter - the plant grows on crumbling rocky slopes, only bulbs are used, at least 3500 bulbs are needed for 1 kg of medicine. But the bulbs begin to grow only in the fifth year of the life of the Delaway hazel grouse, which makes it impossible to harvest them massively. However, the demand for the drug is constantly growing and the assemblers are faced with a shortage of raw materials.

After, in a very favorable spring, the next harvest turned out to be surprisingly meager, the issue was taken up seriously. And they quickly found out that the plants did not decrease, but they rapidly changed color. They were bright green and clearly visible against the background of gray-brown stones, but now they have faded, began to visually merge with them. Chinese scientists tested the phenomenon experimentally by showing a photo of Delaway hazel grouse to dozens of people, and all had problems finding the camouflaged plants.

Grouse Delaway is not included in the animal feed base of the Hengduan province, its only enemies are people. This is also indicated by the fact that the masking mechanism is based on a change in color in the visible range, and not smell or shape, because only people search for plants using their eyes. So far, this is only a concept, a scientific idea, and the exact mechanism of human influence on the evolution of mountain plants has yet to be studied. Moreover, there are known and other similar examples in nature - for example, the valuable snow lotus also changed and began to resemble ordinary cereals, so that it was less often pulled out of the ground.