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

stitutes. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has had a long-standing interest in the research of this genus and these discoveries arose during ongoing research in southern tropical Africa. Of the 14 new species described, 11 are highly localised and are threatened with extinction.

Indigofera has more than 750 species and occurs throughout the tropical regions of the world. It is member of Leguminosae (pea family).

Discovered in a glasshouse Most of this year's discoveries come direct from the wild, but in one case, a new species was found closer to home in Kew Gardens' Princess of Wales conservatory. Dr Iain Darbyshire, an expert on African botany, stumbled across Isoglossa variegata during a lunchtime wander in the glasshouse, where it was used for tropical bedding. Dr Darbyshire, who has contributed 36 new species from the Acanthus family (Acanthaceae) alone to this year's list, later found specimens in the Herbarium. It was first collected nearly 100 years ago but on another specimen from the 1950s there is a note stating "NAME URGENTLY DESIRED". Fifty years on, the job is now done, the delay reflecting the overwhelming task of charting the world's plants. Isoglossa variegata is one of more than 100 new species from East Africa and southern tropical Africa and is part of a major commitment by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, initiated some 50 years ago, to document the flora from this area in two major projects, the Flora of Tropical East Africa and Flora Zambesiaca. These great works, which document around 12,500 and 10,000 species respectively, are now nearing completion.

Brazilian passion Passiflora cristalina is among the 20 new Brazilian species discovered by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew this year. It is a striking red passionflower with edible egg-shaped fruits and is thought to be pollinated by hummingbirds. Dr Daniela Zappi discovered it during an expedition to the Amazon rainforest in Mato Gro
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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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