Five amazing plants new to science

If you think everything’s already been discovered, maybe you should ask a botanist. Each year, these scientists describe about 2000 new plants, according to a new report on the State of the World’s Plants, released today by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the United Kingdom. Last year 2034 plants from around the world were unveiled as new species—the top countries for discovery (over the last 10 years) were Brazil, Australia, and China. Among the more interesting finds are Drosera magnifica, a carnivorous sundew that grows as tall as 1.5 meters in Brazil, and Oberholzeria etendekensis, a low-growing desert shrub from Namibia that represents an entirely new genus (above). But a grim finding in the report is confirmation that one in five plants are at risk of extinction. One of those is Gilbertiodendron maximum, a newly discovered 45-meter-tall rainforest tree in Gabon. Another new species on the brink is Sartidia isoalensis, a grass discovered in Madagascar’s Isalo National Park. Sartidia was likely outcompeted by other species when humans arrived about 2000 years ago and started burning the island’s vast grasslands. The report, which takes a broad look at the plant world, estimates that there are 390,900 vascular plants known to science.