Kew saves rare waterlily

A UK garden and greenhouse attraction has successfully managed to propagate a species that has been baffling horticulturalists for 25 years.

Discovered in 1985, the Nymphaea thermarum is a tiny waterlily that was only known to grow in a particular region of Rwanda – Masyuza in the south-west.

Its natural habitat was next to hot springs, but over-exploitation of the water caused it to die out just five years after its discovery.

Fortunately, German botanist Professor Eberhard Fischer, who discovered the plants, took some samples back to Bonn Botanic Gardens, where they survived for a number of years.

However, scientists always found the species extremely difficult to propagate, leading to fears that it would die out completely.

That was, until plant rescuing expert Carlos Magdalena of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew stepped in to save the day.

He discovered that the plant needed to be grown in a different way from other waterlilies, which usually thrive in deeper water.

"It was only when I searched a little deeper that the key I needed came to the surface. Now we have over 30 healthy baby plants growing here at Kew and some are producing seeds," he explained.

Meanwhile, the Royal Horticultural Society has filled a recently created position by appointing Jim Gardiner to the role of director of horticulture.