They're everywhere--literally. Microplastics were created by humans but have somehow found their way into just about every ecosystem and now researchers from the University of Prešov in Slovakia have found them in plant leave axils. This is the first finding in such a place.

The research team went to Eastern Slovakia to study microorganisms that live in small water puddles formed in teasel leaf axils. Teasels have opposite leaves that grow in several levels on their stems and make cup-like structures that collect water. These are called telmata.

The researchers discovered differently colored fibers and fragments in these tiny telmata and they later identified the fragments as microplastics.

According to the authors of the study,
“Teasel phytotelmata are a relatively common but overlooked aquatic microcosm with a very short-term occurrence of only three to four months. “These phytotelmata are very small and have a short lifespan. The question is, therefore, how were they polluted with microplastics?”
The team surmises that they most likely came from pollution in the atmosphere as no other sources of contaminants were found. Some of the research team believes that snails may have transported them from soil or other plants, though.

According to them,
“The first finding of microplastics in small short-term water reservoirs created by plants is further evidence that contamination of this kind spreads through various pathways and probably no environment on Earth is safe, which of course makes our discovery quite disheartening. On the other hand, the results of our research of teasel phytotelmata, as a very unusual and highly specific natural environment, offer many possibilities for use in researching the spatio-temporal characteristics of the spread of microplastic pollution and its potential impact on the plants themselves, as well as organisms bound to them by ecological relations.”
It is quite disheartening and shows that poor Mother Earth can't catch a break...even in something as minute as teasel phytotelmata.