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The fascinating plant species discovered in 2019

Date: 07-Jan-20
Author: Liam Taylor

Just one of the unique plant species identified and named by Kew scientists in 2019. Image: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Just one of the unique plant species identified and named by Kew scientists in 2019. Image: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

A range of exotic and interesting plant species were discovered in the last year, including some that could potentially have scientific uses.

The plants identified by experts at the Royal Botanical Gardens include a miracle berry that tricks your tastebuds, a rubbery shrub that exudes its own superglue and a fungus that produces potentially cancer-fighting bodies. Scientists at the Kew Gardens in southwest London officially named 102 species of plants and eight species of fungi in 2019, though unfortunately many are already in danger of extinction due to threats such as habitat destruction and climate change.

Martin Cheek, a senior botanist at the Kew Gardens, told The Guardian that identifying and naming plants was crucial to ensuring they could be protected for the future.

“It is important to name the plants now because natural habitat is disappearing rapidly,” Cheek said. “Only when they have a name can they have an official assessment under the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and only then do we have a chance of getting national authorities to protect those areas.”

One of the most interesting new discoveries was a species of ylang-ylang tree called zonozono, of which only seven individuals are known to exist. The zonozono, was discovered in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania and grows to a height of around 20 metres.

Another unique discovery was a so-called ‘miracle berry’ in rainforests on the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border. The berry contains a compound called miraculin that is capable of blocking certain tastebuds so that sour foods are perceived as sweet.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.

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