The palms that Vietnamese villagers weave into hats, many varieties of lichens that depend on the pristine environment of the Great Smoky Mountains, and small, shrub-like trees that are threatened by development and deforestation in Brazil were among the scores of plant and fungus species that scientists at The New York Botanical Garden discovered and described in the course of one year.
As part of their effort to catalog all plant life on Earth, Botanical Garden scientists named 81 new species of plants and fungi in 2011. They also established four new genera and two new orders of plants and fungi. Genera and orders are groupings of related species.
Working in the field, laboratory, and research collections around the world, Garden scientists found or cataloged new species in a wide variety of familiar plant groups, including South American blueberry relatives and bromeliads; Southeast Asian mushrooms; a Mexican oak; and a Colombian cycad, one of a family of plants often referred to as "living fossils."
"This impressive collection of new species from around the world that Garden scientists discovered and described in just one year is a testament of their dedication to one of our central goalsfinding and cataloging all of the plant life on Earth," said James Miller, Ph.D., the Garden's Dean and Vice President for Science. "But this also shows how little we know about the plants on Earth and how far we still have to go to get a comprehensive catalog of them."
The announcement of the new species discoveries comes little more than a month after another important development concerning the study and conservation of Earth's botanical biodiversitythe agreement by the Garden and three other leading botanical gardens to create the first online catalog of plants by 2020. The project, called the World Flora, will make comprehensive information about as many as 400,000 plant speciesincluding the 81 newly discovered speciesavailable to t
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The New York Botanical Garden