New species of giant water lily discovered in London garden – 06/07/2022 – Ambiente

A group of experts from Kew Gardens, a famous botanical garden located in west London, revealed this Monday (4) the discovery of a new species of giant water lily, the first recorded since the mid-19th century.

Specimens of this specimen have been in Kew Gardens for 177 years and in the National Herbarium of Bolivia for 34 years before botanists realized it was a new species.

Initially, they thought it was a water lily (Victoria amazon), one of two varieties of giant water lilies named after Queen Victoria.

But after research carried out with a team that traveled from Bolivia, experts at the British garden determined that it was a third variety.

In addition to being the most recent species of giant water lily, Bolivian Victoriawhose leaves can measure up to three meters wide, is also the largest in the world.

The years of research that led to this discovery were described in an article in the journal Frontiers in Plant Sciences, published on Monday.

Seeds of this third species of giant water lily had been donated by the botanical gardens of Santa Cruz de La Sierra and La Rinconada, Bolivia.

Botanical drawing illustrator Lucy Smith, who participated in the research, said they had been grown — unreferenced — in a Kew greenhouse for the past four years.

“We’ve actually been hiding this wonderful secret in plain sight all this time,” Smith told AFP.

Carlos Magdalena, a researcher specializing in the conservation of endangered plant species, called the plant “one of the botanical wonders of the world”.

He explained that around 2,000 species of plants are discovered each year, but “what is very unusual is that a plant of this size with this level of fame would be discovered in 2022.”

“It really shows how little we know about the natural world,” he commented.

“Bolivian Victoria” was named in honor of the Bolivian experts on the team and the plant’s natural ecosystem in the South American country.

Giant water lilies have a flower that turns from white to pink overnight.

Kew Gardens is the only place in the world where visitors can admire all three species of the Victoria genus — ‘amazonica’, ‘cruziana’ and now ‘boliviana’ — side by side.

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