Scientists discover new giant water lily species

By Rebecca Morelle
Science Editor, BBC News

A new species of giant water lily has been discovered – and it’s been hiding in plain sight for 177 years.

The huge plant had been in the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and was growing in a number of aquatic collections but it was mistakenly identified as another species.

Now a detailed scientific study has revealed that it is new to science.

It also holds the record as the world’s largest water lily, with leaves growing more than 3m (10ft) wide.

The plant has been called Victoria boliviana – named after Bolivia, where it grows in a single water basin in part of the Amazon river system.

Horticulturist Carlos Magdalena, one of the world’s leading water lily experts, long suspected that the plant was different from the other two known giant species, Victoria amazonica and Victoria cruziana.

So working with scientists from Bolivia – from the National Herbarium of Bolivia, Santa Cruz Botanic Gardens and Public Botanic Garden La Rinconada – he collected some seeds and brought them back to Kew.

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Categories: Biology

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