Tahina Palm: The Suicide Tree
When this new species of gigantic tree on Madagascar
blossoms, its flowers and fruits may as well form a funeral bouquet: Betting its line's survival on one season's worth of seeds, the Tahina spectabilis
palm blossoms only once, then dies.
The self-destructing palm is one of an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 new species discovered annually. Of these, scientists from around the world--working with International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and using undisclosed criteria--name the "top ten" each year.
"We know so few of the species on Earth," said the institute's founding director Quentin Wheeler. "Life is probably the biggest and most complex scientific story we'll ever explore."
Photograph courtesy John Dransfield