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Smallest waterlily in the world saved from extinction

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The-smallest-waterlily-in-005.jpg The smallest waterlily in the world, the thermal waterlily, Nymphaea thermarum. Photograph: Andrew McRobb/Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Plant experts at Kew Gardens have rescued the smallest waterlily in the world from the brink of extinction.

The thermal waterlily has not grown in the wild since the last specimens vanished two years ago from its only known habitat, a hot spring in southwest Rwanda.

After a year-long struggle, a Kew Gardens biologist worked out a way to grow the plants at the botanic gardens, paving the way for their reintroduction in the wild.

Carlos Magdalena, the plant scientist who grew the waterlily, said: "Waterlilies are among the most ancient of flowering plants. This species could provide information about the evolution of flowering plants as it is truly unique."

He added: "This species may provide an opportunity to breed beautiful, small and compact waterlily hybrids that don't need a pond. Gardeners would love something like this, the advent of the no-waterlily."

With pads as little as 1cm across, the plant disappeared from Rwanda when over-exploitation caused its spring to dry up.

Samples were rescued and given to Bonn Botanic Gardens by the German botanist Eberhard Fischer, of Koblenz-Landau university, who discovered the plant in 1985.

Bonn horticulturists preserved the waterlilies, but could not get them to propagate.

Magdalena, who received some of their seeds last summer, said: "When I received this donation from Bonn, I realised how important it was for the survival of the species to find a way of growing them successfully.

"Now we have over 30 healthy baby plants growing here at Kew and some are producing seeds so soon we may have an army of these tiny waterlilies. Its future in botanical collections seems secured for the long term."

The key was exposing them to the higher concentrations of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air. Kew's collection of the waterlilies flowered for the first time in November. They are now on display and, if the natural flow of water is restored in Rwanda, could be reintroduced to the wild.

Stephen Hopper, director of the gardens said: "Kew is one of those places that offers a sense of hope in a time of relative doom and gloom about the state of the natural world, where individuals, by doing practical things with plants, can make a real difference to biodiversity

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Refusing to use the spellchick!

I have put you on ignore. No really, I have, but you are still ruining my enjoyment of this site. .

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Cute little #######.

Just don't plant 'em in any of the swamps in the Gulf Coast region.


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I wonder if you can eat a bunch of those like salad.


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