A metal-eating plant has been discovered in the Philippines
Image: Phytokeys

The new species, Rinorea niccolifera, somehow accumulates up to 18,000ppm of the metal in its leaves without being poisoned. That's 100 to 1,000 times higher than the level of nickel in most other plants.

The new species, which was reported on in the journal PhytoKeys, was found on the western plant of Luzan Island in the Philippines, an area known for having soils rich in heavy metals.

The ability to accumulate such a large amount of nickel is extremely rare in the plant kingdom, with only around 450 plants around the world known to have the trait, known as "hyper accumulation". Even in areas with nickel-rich soils, less than 1% of plants have the skill.

We know what you're thinking: "silly plant, metals isn't for eating!" But this ability means that not only is the plant fascinating to study, it could also help clean up soils that have been contaminated with metal.

On the other hand, it could also be used to set up a "green mining" industry, where the plant helps extract commercially valuable metals from the Earth. 

Source: Pensoft