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The first giant water lily was discovered over a century ago

The first giant water lily was discovered over a century ago

Botanists from Kew Gardens, a popular botanical garden in London, have announced the identification of a new species of giant water lily. It is even the largest in the world and the first discovery of its kind in over a century. So far, only two other species of giant water lilies of the famous genus Victoria are known.

Specimens of the new species, named Victoria Boliviana, can be found in the Kew Herbarium (for 177 years) and in the National Herbarium of Bolivia (for 34 years). Scientists believe it was Victoria Amazonica, one of two known species of giant water lilies named after Queen Victoria. Botanical artist Lucy Smith and horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena suspected it might be a third species after seeing pictures of the plant online in 2006.

Big, but hard to define

Basically, it is difficult to distinguish the species of the genus Victoria. This problem stems from the lack of species specimens (samples of the original plant used to formally describe species) in the collections. This is mainly due to the fact that giant water lilies are difficult to collect in the wild.

V. Amazonica It was the first species of this genus to be named. However, data has since been lacking to allow comparisons to be made with any new species. This led to the misidentification of this new water lily.

In this new work, the researchers used a combination of historical, geographical, and horticultural records. They collected a set of data on the characteristics of the species using citizen science (application I am a naturalist and social media posts bearing giant water lilies). Finally, they conducted an in-depth analysis of the DNA of several plants. In the end, it turned out that the samples from London and Bolivia were genetically distinct Of the other two well-known types.

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Horticulturist Carlos Magdalena and botanical artist Lucy Smith hold a leaf of the new species at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. Credits: RBG KEW

According to the study published in frontiers in botany, against Bolivia will be closely related to Cruziana. The two factories could have diverge A million years.

In the face of the rapid rate of biodiversity loss, characterization of new species is a task of fundamental importance.“Remember the authors of this work.” We hope our interdisciplinary framework will inspire other scientists looking for ways to quickly and aggressively identify new species.“.

With its flowers changing from white to pink and its spiny petioles, Boliviana It is now the largest water lily in the world. Its leaves can already arrive More than three meters in the wild.