Plants need plenty of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to grow. But some would rather skip photosynthesis and eat their neighbors instead.
Researchers recently discovered a new species of parasitic plant in Japan — Sciaphila sugimotoi. Parasitic plants in general are often hard to find, as they tend to be small and only go above ground for short flowering periods.
Unlike most plants that make their own food, these non-photosynthesizing plants have special organs that puncture the host plant's tissues and extract water and nutrients.
And they only thrive in healthy, stable environments, so some scientists say the plants can tell us about the health of certain ecosystems.
But these plants are parasites. Although some only take what they need, others can cause severe damage to their hosts, especially agricultural crops.