Newly Found Tropical Tree Named After Leonardo DiCaprio, Many New Species Threatened

The newly found tropical tree from the ylang-ylang family is the first to be named in 2022. Honoring actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the evergreen plant was named Uvariopsis dicaprio, which is found in Cameroon. The tree reaches about 13-feet-tall and has shiny, yellow-green leaves that grow in clusters along the tree trunk. Scientists acknowledged the activism of Leonardo DiCaprio by helping save the tropical Ebo Forest from logging, which is the plant’s home, by naming the critically endangered tree after him.

A ghost orchid that grows in dark, an insect-trapping tobacco plant, and an “exploding firework” flower are amongst the new species named by scientists in the past year. These species are sprawled from a voodoo lily from Cameroon to a rare tooth fungus found near London, UK.

These species are among the 205 new species named in 2021 by the researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG), Kew, and their teammates across the world. However, some of these species are already extinct in the wild, while many are threatened by the destruction of forests, expanding palm oil plantations, mining and other anthropogenic activities.

Tree Named After Leonardo DiCaprio

Image: Lorna MacKinnon/Peer J

There are 400,000 identified flora species and two in five are facing the threat of extinction. The scientists are in a race against time to identify new plants before they fade into oblivion forever. For the past decade, scientists across the globe have named about 2,000 new plant species each year.

Dr. Martin Cheek, at RBG Kew said;

It’s almost bewildering that we’re still discovering so many. But now is our last chance to find unknown species, name them and hopefully protect them before they become globally extinct…Who knows how many thousands of plant species it will be revealed in future to have likely become extinct due to palm oil plantations. It’s sickening.

Researchers discovered 16 new orchids from dense and remote forests in Madagascar, including the new ghost orchid. Kew’s Johan Harmans named it Didymoplexis stella-silvae, meaning the “star of the forest” as it grows in absolute darkness and has star-like flowers.

ghost orchid

Image: Johan Hermans/RBG Kew

Featuring no leaves or chlorophyll for photosynthesis, it gets all its nutrients in symbiosis with underground fungi. Moreover, the flower pokes through the forest-floor humus for a day to draw pollinators.

Unfortunately, Madagascar’s endemic plants are threatened by deforestation and climate change-induced droughts, floods and fires. Three of the new orchids are already thought to be extinct in the wild due to the destruction of their natural habitat.

Via: Smithsonian Magazine

Facebook Comments Box

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.