Kew rediscovers Bromus

Seed bank finds near-extinct grass

Joint work by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s seed bank at Wakehurst Place and the National Botanic Garden of Belgium has brought a Belgian grass back from the brink of extinction. Bromus bromoideus had not been seen for 70 years in Belgium and horticulturists had lost hope of seeing the grass again. But recently discovered seeds from a Belgian seed bank have seen it come back to life. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank head of curation Simon Lilington said: “This shows that modern seed banking is a vital tool for conservation.” This operation has been one of the first successes of ENSCONET, the European conservation network funded by the EU. National Botanic Garden of Belgium glasshouse collections scientist Dave Aplin said: “It is estimated that two thirds of the world’s plant species are in danger of extinction. To have the opportunity to bring one back from the brink is fantastic.”

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