Monday, 22 May 2017

Treasure trove of new plant discoveries revealed

By Helen Briggs BBC News 

Almost 2,000 new species of plant have been discovered in the past year, according to a report by The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

Many have potential as food crops, medicines or sources of timber. 

However, scientists say some of the newly-discovered plants are already at risk of extinction.
They are developing new ways to speed up the discovery and classification of plants to help safeguard them for future generations.

The second annual assessment of the State of the World's Plants by scientists at Kew found that 1,730 plants were recorded as being new to science in 2016.

They include 11 new species from Brazil of the Manihot shrub known for its starchy root, cassava.

Seven species of the South African plant best known for red bush or rooibos tea were discovered, of which six are already threatened with extinction.

Other discoveries include new relatives of Aloe Vera, widely used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.

Prof Kathy Willis, director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said the new discoveries hold "huge promise" for the future.

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