New brew one of Kew's discoveries
FROM 42 metre-tall trees with exploding seed pods to wild coffee plants which may help save people's morning cappuccino from climate change, Kew scientists have discovered more than 250 new plants in their 250th anniversary year.
While discoveries were made in locations ranging from Brazil to Borneo, one expert even found a new species during a lunchtime stroll through the Princess of Wales conservatory at the west London gardens, the botanical organisation said.
Nearly a third of the 292 new plant and fungi species found and described by botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, this year are thought to be in danger of extinction.
Threatened discoveries include the critically endangered "cancer cure" yam from South Africa, with only 200 plants known in the wild.
The smallest species discovered this year are wood rotting fungi which are less than a millimetre thick, while two species of flowering plants less than 10cm tall, which take their energy from underground fungi instead of the sun, have also been unearthed.
Dr Aaron Davis, a botanist and Kew's coffee expert said the discovery of half a dozen new species of wild coffee this year took the total found in the past decade to almost 30.
With most commercial coffee – the second most traded commodity in the world after oil – coming from a handful of plants, the genetic variety is very limited and the plants are susceptible to pests, diseases and climate change.
Conserving species with different traits, such as being able to grow in water-logged soil or at different altitudes, could help secure the future of the important crop – but an estimated 70 per cent of wild coffees are in danger of extinction due to habitat loss and climate change, he said.
"Conserving the genetic diversity within this genus has implications for the sustainability of our daily cup, particularly as coffee plantations are highly susceptible to climate change," he said.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west