Plantwatch: fungus creates fake fragrant flowers to fool bees

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Fusarium xyrophilum hijacks yellow-eyed Xyris grasses from Guyana to create forgeries made of fungal tissue

Fungi have been discovered making fake flowers that look and even smell like the real thing, fooling bees and other pollinating insects into visiting them.

The fungus Fusarium xyrophilum infects the beautiful yellow-eyed grasses of Xyris from Guyana in South America. The fungus stops the plant making its flowers and then hijacks the plant’s reproductive system to create its own forgeries made entirely of fungal tissue.

The fake flowers are a similar size and shape with petal-like features that reflect ultraviolet light to attract pollinators, especially bees. The phoney flowers even use fragrances to make themselves even more attractive.

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