A new species of plant has been discovered on the subtropical Japanese island of Kuroshima (located off the southern coast of Kyushu in Kagoshima prefecture) and named it Gastrodia kuroshimensis. The new flowering plant species is a very rare event as the flora of this region have been thoroughly investigated. However, G. kuroshimensis was a particularly special discovery because it is both completely mycoheterophic, deriving its nutrition not from photosynthesis but from host fungi, and completely cleistogamous, producing flowers that never bloom.
Non-photosynthetic mycorrhizal plants, or mycoheterotrophic plants, have long attracted the curiosity of botanists and mycologists. However, a common feature of most mycoheterotrophic plants is their extreme scarcity and small size. In addition, most species are found in the dark understory of forests, only discoverable during the flowering and fruiting period when aboveground organs appear through the leaf litter. As such, we still have scant knowledge on the precise taxonomy of the mycoheterotrophic group.