Plants that eat metal sound like a biological impossibility. But these hungry little guys exist, sucking tiny bits of toxic metal from the soil. They don't just clean the Earth, either—they can actually mine bits of gold and nickel for use by humans.
It's called phytomining, and it's the subject of a fascinating story in New Scientist this month. In it, we meet a team of researchers from the US and UK who have been studying metal-hungry plants since the 1970s. They've collected a number of plants that eat metals like gold and nickel—which is plentiful in post-industrial areas and very useful, because it's necessary for batteries and other consumer products.