When scientist Alan Baker made a cut in the side of an exotic plant in the Philippines jungle, the sap that bled out had a jade-green glow.
The shrub was a newly discovered species, soon to be known as Phyllanthus Balgooyi, one of a rare variety of plants that naturally suck high amounts of metallic elements from the soil. The fluorescent sap turned out to be 9 percent nickel.
It was a welcome finding, but not a surprise, as Professor Baker’s research into so-called “hyperaccumulators” had already uncovered species that seemed to thrive on everything from cobalt to zinc, and even gold.
“These are plants which can take up elements from the soil [at rates] orders of magnitude higher than normal plants,” Professor Baker says.
Scientists are now on a quest to discover whether farming these plants could provide an alternative to environmentally-destructive mining, while also helping to rehabilitate former mine sites.
For the rest of this article: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/world/440246/agromining-farming-of-metal-extracting-trees-and-plants-could-replace-mining