Giant rainforest trees with exploding seed pods and minute fungi are among nearly 300 new species discovered by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens in their 250th anniversary year. However, while discoveries were made in exotic locations across the world, one expert found a new species in one of Kew Garden's own glasshouses in west London. Coffee lovers can also celebrate that their favourite morning brew could be saved from climate change after seven new species of the plant were found. Nearly a third of the 292 new plant and fungi species unearthed this year are thought to be in danger of extinction. Threatened discoveries include the critically endangered 'cancer cure' yam from South Africa, with only 200 plants known in the wild. Regarded by locals as a medicine for cancer, the plant, which has a 3ft, lumpy wooden tuber, is under threat from over-collection. According to researchers, the work to discover and document the world's plant species is vital in an era of climate change and loss of biodiversity. Professor Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said: "These new discoveries highlight the fact that there is so much of the plant world yet to be discovered and documented. Without knowing what's out there and where it occurs, we have no scientific basis for effective conservation."


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