9,000 plants safe from extinction

Posted: 31 January 2005

The results of a two-year study into the devastating effects of global plant extinction show that around 9,000 endangered plant species have been located and identified in cultivation within botanic gardens worldwide.

The giant Titan lily, has the largest flower head in the world. Photo: Peter Wyse Jackson/BGCI
The giant Titan lily, has the largest flower head in the world. Photo: Peter Wyse Jackson/BGCI
Amorphophallus titanus or the giant Titan lily, has the largest flower head in the world and is one of the plants included in the study. It is threatened in the forests of Indonesia but can be found in botanic gardens in many countries worldwide. The picture shows the plant in cultivation at Kew Gardens.© Peter Wyse Jackson/BGCI
A new database called the Plant Search Database, launched by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), a charity that unites more than 800 botanic gardens in 115 countries across the world, has enabled gardens for the first time to research what they hold in their collections against The World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Red List of threatened plant species (listed in their 1997 and 2003 catalogues).

Conservationists estimate that anything up to 100,000 plants may be under serious threat of extinction due to mass habitat destruction and global climate change.

Peter Wyse Jackson, Secretary General of BGCI said: "This is an important step in helping to reverse the current extinction crisis that we face. BGCI is working with the botanic garden community to raise awareness about the plants they hold and the importance of these collections to future conservation efforts - they represent a living gene bank."

With over 200 million visitors a year and approximately 6.1 million living plant collections, botanic gardens are uniquely placed to act as sanctuaries for plants, when, for tens of thousands of plant species, it is quite literally 'one minute to midnight'.

Related link:

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI)