Land of Diversity: Snow lotuses thrive on plateau with self-made 'greenhouses'

The harsh conditions on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau – low oxygen, high ultraviolet radiation and little rainfall – have bred all kinds of creatures with their own unique survival skills. That includes many plants too. One such plant species is the snow lotus.

It's not easy for any life to survive on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, let alone for plants to reproduce. 

That is why snow lotuses have developed unique organs to make sure their "offspring" are shielded from the harsh environment outside but can still spread effectively. The flowers are wrapped in a special layer of waxy and papery leaves on the outside, known as "bracts." These waxy bracts don't have any chlorophyll and are weatherproof. They are in place to guard the internal structure and pollen against strong winds and low temperatures.

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