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The Rare Rainforest Tree That Bleeds Metal

Pycnandra acuminata is a rare tree native to the shrinking rainforests of New Caledonia that has the rare ability to collect large quantities of nickel from the ground. Its blue-green sap reportedly contains up to 25% nickel.

Trees, or plants in general for that matter, and heavy metals like nickel and zinc don’t really go well together, and that’s what makes¬†Pycnandra acuminata¬†and a few other rare tress species known as “hyperaccumulators” so special. They have somehow evolved to suck out normally toxic levels of heavy metals from the soil and store it in their stems, leaves and seeds. Unfortunately, heavy deforestation in New Caledonia has put this remarkable tree on the list of endangered trees before scientists could even figure out how and why it can tolerate such high quantities of nickel in its latex-like sap.

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