Talk about a desperate cry for attention—a palm tree discovered in Madagascar literally flowers itself to death. At the end of its life cycle, a pyramid of hundreds of tiny white flowers spring from the top of the tree. The flowers drip with nectar, announcing the palm’s swan song to swarms of birds and insects. Once pollinated, the tree sends all remaining nutrients to its flowers as they develop into fruit. Then it collapses and dies.
According to the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London, which announced the discovery, the tree also has a remarkable life. It stands fifty feet above the ground and has fan-shaped leaves that, at fifteen feet in diameter, rank among the largest of any flowering plant. It’s Madagascar’s most massive palm tree and can even be spotted on Google Earth. What’s more, DNA analysis shows it’s not just a new species, but an entirely new genus. This discovery comes right in time—fewer than a hundred of the palms still exist. Conservationists are now scrambling to find survivors and harvest seeds. Lucky for the tree, it puts on one can’t-miss performance.