Thursday, 23 September 2010

Botanists find many more plant species

Last year UK botanists identified nearly than 300 new species of plants in over 100 countries around the world. The botanists were researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Now for the bad news... more than a third are under threat of extinction, according to the scientists.


"These new discoveries highlight the fact that there is so much of the plant world yet to be discovered and documented," said Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
"Without knowing what's out there and where it occurs, we have no scientific basis for effective conservation."

Amongst the new finds was a previously unknown giant of Cameroon's rainforest, stretching more than 42m (138ft) into the canopy of the Korup National Park.
Berlinia korupensis pod (Image: RBG Kew)
The Berlinia korupensis pods explode, spreading seeds over a wide area
The Berlinia korupensis - a member of the pea family - has a one-metre-wide buttressed trunk, and produces white flowers that then give rise to massive seed pods, which can reach 30cm (1ft) in length.

When fully ripened, the pods explode, sending the seeds flying away from the tree, ensuring the best possible chance of survival.
"We found just 17 trees in our survey," explained Xander van der Burgt, who led the team that found the tree.

"Even though the Korup (National Park) is protected, Berlinia korupensis is critically endangered due to human pressures on the park," he added.

More information is available on the Royal Botanical Gardens site at  http://www.kew.org/news/kew-new-discoveries.htm



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