National Parks and World Heritage Sites

World’s Newest plant discovered in Tanzania and it smells like chocolate

Botanists have discovered what could be the world’s newest type of vegetation in the form of a lone, spear-shaped and nocturnal plant growing in Northern Tanzania.

The plant also exudes sweet aroma which smells like Chocolate, could this be the world’s latest addition to the global botanical species?

The strange plant is being studied at National Herbarium in Tanzania.

The facility operates inside the Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticides Authority (TPHPA) premises in Ngaramtoni parts of Arusha.

Dr Neduvoto Mollel the Head of National Herbarium at the TPHPA described the new plant as spear shaped and seems to come alive at night when the leaves blooms under moonlight but as soon as the sun comes out, the plant goes with its leaves looking slightly weathered.

“It is a very strange plant because its leaves expand and flourish during the night and contract at sunrise,” Dr Mollel explained.

The new plant was discovered by American Botanist Barry Yinger and his associate Robert Sikawa, a Tanzanian.

The National Herbarium in which the new plant is being kept and observed is located in the outskirts of Arusha City.

The department holds a collection of preserved plant specimens and associated data used for scientific study and identification.

“We have all reasons to believe that this new plant is endemic to Tanzania, never seen anywhere else in the world because the tourists who discovered it are expert botanists who have travelled around the globe sampling and studying vegetation,” the National Herbarium officer pointed out.

So far, apart from its proposed identity now the strange plant has neither local nor scientific names.

Tanzania has however already sent the plant profile, descriptions and properties to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) with the proposed name from the country.

Local scientists are tentatively calling the plant ‘Embere’ which means ‘Spear,’ in Maasai language.

This is because it was discovered in Northern Parts of the country that happen to be a Maasai land.

TYraditionally the Maasai usually carry spears as part of their tradition and again where people traditionally use spears.

As it happens, the new shrub is also shaped like a spear.

The ICBN is the world’s authority behind the set of rules and recommendations dealing with the formal botanical names that are given to plants.

But is the earth still sprouting new plants? Scientists at the National Herbarium are affirmative, saying it is normal, only that this latest discovery is baffling researchers due to its strange nocturnal behavior.

Yustina Andrew Kiwango is a renowned Tanzanian Ecologist who is currently a PhD Candidate studying Ecosystem Resilience at the University of Groningen in Netherlands says the earth may sometimes yield new types of plants and vegetation cover as some form of natural self-defence mechanism, among other reasons.

She said new plants may sprout in some areas either to protect the soil or shield other forms of vegetation being threatened by the changing environment, hostile weather conditions or invasion of human activities.