Kew disputes newspaper's claim

Claim that botantists fail to spot new species angers botanical gardens

There was no love lost between London’s Evening Standard and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on Valentine’s Day as Kew launched its annual orchid festival. The newspaper claimed Kew botanists had, for 13 years, failed to notice that a two-metre-high orchid growing on a public information board was a new species. A Kew representative said: “The orchid is not two metres high and neither was it growing on a public information board in an exhibit for 13 years. The orchid had been growing in the collection. The seeds had arrived at Kew some time before and had apparently been incorrectly identified — this happens very occasionally but as a matter of course every species we have is periodically sent over to our herbarium for a routine check. “In one such check, [Kew orchid expert] Dr David Roberts noticed that the seeds had been incorrectly identified and what we actually had was a new species, which he named Aeranthes virginalis.” Kew’s orchid festival, Orchids Exposed, runs until 15 March.

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