- Canopy giants and miniature fungi are among 250 new species discovered in Kew’s 250th anniversary year report.
The report said giant rainforest trees, rare and beautiful orchids, spectacular palms, minute fungi, wild coffees and an ancient aquatic plant are among more than 250 new plant and fungi species discovered and described by botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in this, the botanical organisation’s 250th anniversary year.
The new species, according to the botanists, come from a wide-range of fascinating locations including Brazil, Cameroon, East Africa, Madagascar, Borneo and New Guinea. Nearly a third are believed to be in danger of extinction.
“These new discoveries highlight the fact that there is so much of the plant world yet to be discovered and documented. Without knowing what’s out there and where it occurs, we have no scientific basis for effective conservation. It is vital that these areas of botanical science are adequately funded and supported.
“As part of our Breathing Planet Programme we are committed to accelerating the discovery and classification of plant diversity, and finding solutions for their conservation,” said the botanists.
Professor David Mabberley, Keeper of the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives adds, “Achievements like this year’s bumper crop of new species discoveries are only possible because of Kew’s international collaborative network. Successful research in the field and Herbarium depends on our in-country partnerships. We are currently working with 100 countries throughout the world.”
Examples of the new discoveries include Canopy Giants from the rainforests of Cameroon while the smallest species on this year’s new species list are wood-rotting fungi, which are less than a millimeter thick and cover their hosts like a lick of paint.
By 21 December 2009, the total number of new plant and fungi species either published or sent for publication by botanists in the Herbarium is 292, from 1 January 2009). On average the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and its partners discover and describe 200 new species a year.
The highest numbers of new species come from Eastern Africa and tropical southern Africa - more than 100, with 67 from Tanzania alone, Madagascar (32), and Borneo (62) the report outlined.
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