February 18, 2015

New rainforest plant named after Sir David Attenborough

A newly discovered plant genus has been named after Cool Earth supporter and well-loved naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

The new Sirdavidia genus was identified by researchers working in the rainforests of Gabon. A flowering plant – Sirdavidia solannona – which has bright red petals and a yellow, cone-shaped stamen, led to the discovery.

It was decided that the plant belonged to its own genus, which may lead to many more species of flower being identified.

The name Sirdavidia honours the influence that Sir David Attenborough has had on the study of the natural world. The plant joins a 20-million-year old grasshopper, an echidna and a ghost shrimp in sharing its name with Sir David.

The area in which Sirdavidia was found is a popular place for botanical studies, going to show that there are still many discoveries to be made, even in the most well studied areas of rainforest.

The closest relative is another plant genus found in Tanzania, which researchers say is an example of how the east and west African rainforests were once connected, despite there now being a gap of over 1,000 km.

Of Cool Earth’s work to save the world’s rainforest Sir David said:

“Helping Cool Earth to halt tropical deforestation makes a real difference. Perhaps the biggest difference we will make in our whole lives.”



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