Metal Plant 3

How many times have you heard the phrase “in a post-apocalyptic world…“? Movies, books, comics and games draw upon that all-too-common setting to dream up stories where man is pushed to the brink in order to survive in a unforgiving environment.

What makes a world post-apocalyptic though? There are plenty of ways to get there – nuclear apocalypse, asteroid strikes, zombies, giant robots, but one thing is pretty common: Food is scarce and people have to scavenge for it because the land is just too polluted to grow anything edible. But what if you could plant something in the ground that would allow other things to grow? What if nature already had its own answer to this problem? What if you could make that “every man for himself” world back into a “let’s work off the land together!” love-fest? Sounds to us like a billion dollar industry! Do they still have dollars in a post-apocalyptic world?!?!

In May 2014, researchers in the Philippines came across a very interesting plant that basically eats nickel. Only 0.5-1% of the plants in the nickel-rich soils of the Zambales Province on the Luzon Island exhibit this trait, making it an extremely rare phenomenon! Researchers found that this plant had up to 18,000 parts per million of nickel in its leaves. It’s been named Rinorea niccolifera, the niccolifera stemming from the fact that it absorbs a lot of nickel.

▼Later, you can get your nickel back.

Metal Plant 1

There are only about 450 species of plants in the world that exhibit this sort of trait. That’s a tiny fraction of the over 300,000 species of plants. Rinorea niccolifera belongs to a group of plants called hyperaccumulator plants. They are of particular interest because they can be used for phytomining or phytoremediation.


Phytomining is the process of growing and harvesting plants that absorb valuable metals from the soil. These metals can be extracted from the plants post-harvest. Phytoremediation, on the other hand, is what could bring us back from an Akira-like world. Phytoremediation refers to plants being used to remove toxic minerals from the soil. Scientists already hope to use hyperaccumulator plants in just this way to renew contaminated soils so that edible crops can be grown there again.

Metal Plant 4

These hyperaccumulator plants can be used to kick-start green technologies, but it will take researchers like those in the Philippines to help make it happen. Those of us at RocketNews24 sure hope that these plants will halt an apocalypse before one happens. We aren’t ready to trade our laptop batteries for two packages of Top Ramen!

This world saving plant is ready for it’s close-up, Mr. DeMille!

Metal Plant 6

Source: globalpost, Phytokeys
Images: Edwino S. Fernando