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Vine grows its own greenhouses to help fruit develop in autumn

Leaves of the Schizopepon bryoniifolius vine overlap to form enclosures

Shoko Sakai

A 90-year-old volunteer nature guide in Japan has discovered that a vine creates mini-greenhouses to warm its developing fruits. He has now co-authored a scientific paper describing the finding.

In the autumn of 2008, Nobuyuki Nagaoka noticed that some leaves on an annual vine called Schizopepon bryoniifolius had expanded and overlapped with each other to form enclosures. Inside these enclosures were many developing fruits.

In the following autumns, he noticed the same unusual structures forming again. Nagaoka contacted Shoko Sakai at Kyoto University, whose team has now studied …