Kew Gardens is known to enjoy holding records. London’s world-famous botanical spot boasts the claim of having thw world’s largest living plant collection; they’re the UK’s favourite garden to visit in spring AND summer; and they even gained the title of the world’s most Instagrammable botanical gardens in a study.
But, it’s unlikely they expected to stumble upon a brand new species of water lily in their own backyard, and find out it’s the largest in the world! The giant has sat in the space for 177 years, but has only been named as an official scientific species this week.
So, may we introduce you to the Victoria Boliviana, which honours Bolivian research partners as well as being one of the nations where this species calls home. It’s been described as one of the botanical wonders of the world, measuring over three metres since it’s smashed the record for largest in the world.
Previously, the genus Victoria (yes, it was named after that Victoria back in 1852) was thought to include two different species. Now, it has been discovered that it is actually a third species of the plant, making it the first finding of a new water lily species in over a century. The Victoria Boliviana species can now happily sit alongside its mates Victoria Cruziana and Victoria Amazonica.
Scientist Natalia Przelomska from Kew Gardens said: “In the face of a fast rate of biodiversity loss, describing new species is a task of fundamental importance. We hope that our multidisciplinary framework might inspire other researchers who are seeking approaches to rapidly and robustly identify new species.’
Visitors can check out the jumbo plant in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens. Read more about the discovery here.