Researchers have identified a new species of grass that is covered in minute drops of liquid that make it sparkle. The grass, which is named Triodia scintillans, also tastes like potato chips, according to the scientists.
The species was found during a four-year research project conducted by PhD student Ben Anderson at the University of Western Australia. It is a type of spinifex, a tough grass that grows across nearly one-third Australian Outback.
Scientists became aware that the newly-discovered grass had unique properties during experimentation in Perth.
“We were doing late-night experiments, handling specimens of that species,” research scientist Matthew Barrett told ABC News. “Someone licked their hand at some point and tasted that flavor.”
“It looks pretty inconspicuous when you first get to it, but if you look at it very closely it has very, very minute sparkling droplets on the stems,” explained Barrett. “When you lick them, they taste like salt-and-vinegar chips.”
According to ABC, Barrett said the tiny droplets that give the spinifex its distinctive flavor is the liquid that makes the grass sparkle.
Because of its strength and special properties, spinifex has many commercial uses. Spinifex has already been used in the mining and condom industries, and scientists believe it has the potential to transform the plastic industry.
Dr. Barrett has been analyzing various types of spinifex in the the Australian Outback for 15 years. He explained that there are more than 30 species in the Pilbara region alone, and a total of 64 spinifex species across the outback. The sparkling grass is one of eight new species recently identified.
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