This orchid’s common name is Underground Orchid. Very fitting as this plant lives, grows and even flowers underground!
Found only in Western Australia, the underground orchid is exotic and endangered. It was discovered in 1928 by a farmer who was ploughing his land. After 1928 only 6 plants were found until 1979 when another farmer turned up more with his plough. Further researching lead to the discovery of 26 specimens. Today there are only 50 which have been found. Their locations are kept secret because they are so rare, they are also very difficult to find.
As it never see’s the sun it can’t photosynthesize its own food, so how does it survive? It’s a parasite. It feeds off of a species of fungus that lives with the roots of the broom brush. The Underground Orchid is always found with broom brush.
Dr. Etienne Delannoy, the lead author of a scientific paper about Rhizanthella gardneri recently published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, told EarthSky,
Yes, that’s really an amazing plant! For example, there’s a very tight relationship between the orchid, the fungus, and the broom bush, to such an extent that the seeds of this orchid can germinate only when infected by this particular fungus, provided that the fungus is actually mycorrhizing [living in symbiosis with] the broom bush. The seeds are fleshy which is unique to orchids. They can be eaten by rats and will still germinate.