Saturday, June 26, 2010

An English science triumph

Kew gardens, doesn't exactly trip to the tongue as a forefront of science really, yet they lead the way in discovering new species of plant life and more importantly re-discovering thought to be lost species, preserving them and nurturing them back to merely rare.

The Parsley Fern, which is only known to grow on Ascension Island, was declared extinct in 2003 after not being seen since 1958.
But scientists leapt into action after four of the plants were found halfway down a ridge of a mountain on the volcanic British overseas territory. 
They used ropes to get to the ferns twice a week so they could water and weed them until they spored.
The spores, which have only a 24 hour lifespan, were then packed in a sterile container and flown four thousand miles to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire before being transferred to Kew Gardens.
The spores survived and are currently growing in Petri dishes at the centre.
The plant has delicate, yellow-green leaves, which give it its name as they resemble miniature sprigs of parsley.
Dr Phil Lambdon, botanist with the UK Overseas Territories Programme at Kew, and local conservation officer Stedson Stroud were routinely looking to rescue plants as part of the UN's International Year of Biodiversity when they made the discovery.
They found the fern, Anogramma ascensionis, as they surveyed the knife edge ridge of a mountainside in the volcanic landscape in the South Atlantic.
Colin Clubbe, leader of the UK Overseas Territories Programme at Kew, said: "It is very unusual to see an 'extinct' plant come back to life, as it were, and is cause for great celebration.
No doubt some will see this as a waste of time and money, yet I have to admire all they went too to preserve a long thought lost species. Hopefully they'll be able to find some places to replace it from their labs and it will make a come back on Ascension Island and perhaps elsewhere. Some discoveries are worth the money, even if all they do is make us feel good about ourselves and our world unlike global warming climate change.

1 annotations:

Mrs Rigby said...

It's brilliant.

Didn't they do the same sort of thing with tree everybody had thought extinct?