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Canopy giants and miniature fungi among 250 new species discovered in Kew's 250th anniversary year
Date:12/22/2009

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 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.

Following in the footsteps of their famous botanical predecessors such as Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Joseph Hooker, and Charles Darwin, taxonomic botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew continue to explore and study the world's plant and fungal diversity, making astonishing discoveries every year. Their work involves a combination of fieldwork in remote and exotic parts of the world, and research in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's Herbarium, a vast scientific collection of over seven million dried plants specimens, perhaps the largest of its kind in the world. This work has never been more relevant and pressing than in the current era of global climate change and unprecedented loss of biodiversity especially as we count down to the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010.

Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says, "It is not widely known that 2,000 new plant species are discovered worldwide each year. Kew's botanists make a very significant contribution to this total.

"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
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Contact: Bronwyn Friedlander
b.friedlander@kew.org
44-208-332-5607
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Source:Eurekalert

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