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African glittering berries shiniest living things in world

Last Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 10:06

New York: The tiny glittering berries belonging to the Pollia condensata plant have been labeled the shiniest living things in the world, according to a report.

With no nutritional value at all, the bedazzling fruit attracts birds for its looks alone, the New York Daily News reported.

But it’s more than their brilliance that makes these tropical fruits, native to Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda in particular, noteworthy, the study said.

The plant is made up of special layer of cells that reflects light to give the fruit its iridescent hues - a phenomenon known as structural coloration.

“The optics are impressive,” Silvia Vignolini, co-author of the study, told Nature.

“There are no previous examples of this in nature,” he said.

Structural coloration is quite common in the animal kingdom - the tail feathers of a peacock are shining examples.

But this is the first time that the process has been documented in plants.

The plant’s dazzling color rarely changes either, since it has no pigments that might fade and no pulp that might lead to rotting, the report said.

The irresistible-looking fruit is, in fact, resistible - at least in terms of diet. It has no nutritional value and cannot be eaten.

Beverly Glover, co-author of the study, believes that the bright berries entice birds who then decorate their nests with the fruit.

“This strategy is brilliant as the plant does not waste any precious energy on providing food for birds,” Glover said.

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


First Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 10:06
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