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World’s Largest Plant Is A Bunch Of Underwater Seagrass That Clones Itself, Bigger Than State Of Washington

The world’s largest plant has been revealed, but it’s not a super-sized tree or necessarily what you’d expect. Scientists in Australia have located a plant off the country’s western coast that they believe is the biggest to be ever be discovered. It’s a massive seagrass meadow that grew to a gigantic size in part because it is asexual and expands through the process of cloning.

The scientists published their findings today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. According to the Associated Press, a genetic analysis of the underwater seagrass meadow has confirmed that it is, in fact, one single organism that covers an area of more than 70 square miles. That’s bigger than the state of Washington.

Our researchers have discovered the world’s largest plant in our very own Shark Bay. The seagrass is dated to be 4,500 years old, stretching across 180km😲🌱🌊 #UWA pic.twitter.com/EgQu8ETBSF

— UWA (@uwanews) June 1, 2022

The plant–which is Poseidon’s ribbon–needed more than 4,500 years to grow to this size. The underwater flora is located in Shark Bay in Western Australia, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Plenty of plants can reproduce asexually, and this process can create “hopeful monsters” like this underwater seagrass meadow, the scientists said in their paper. There are downsides to asexual reproduction, too, however, such as a greater likelihood for disease to spread.

The researchers said the massive clump of seagrass used to cover an additional seven square miles but various environmental effects–including climate change–have led to the destruction of some of it.

For more, check out the full study findings.

In other cool science news, researchers have photographed the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy for the first time, and the image is stunning.

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