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South Africa fever

Christina Harrison
14 June 2010
Blog team: 
As the World Cup kicks off, Kew continues to celebrate the natural wonders of this amazing country.

As I write, South Africa have just started playing Mexico in the first game of the 2010 World Cup. All very exciting – especially as I drew South Africa in the office sweepstake so I have a vested interest! I’m not normally a football fan I have to say, but the fact that the World Cup is in South Africa really strikes a chord.

Celebrating the landscape of South Africa

Kew is celebrating this vibrant country in several ways this summer – Kew’s South Africa Landscape at the British Museum is just starting to come into its own now and we’ll be covering how this dramatic design was put together in the autumn issue of Kew magazine - from choosing the native plants and shipping them across oceans to installing them in the centre of London. The idea is to invite visitors to marvel at the country’s special biodiversity and be inspired as to why it is worth saving.

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership - Collecting seeds in Africa

If you’ve got your copy of the summer issue of Kew magazine, you’ll know that David Shipp travelled to Namaqualand in South Africa in order to find inspiration and plants for this year’s Palm House Parterre display at Kew. This is being installed right now! I passed the nursery yesterday and trays upon trays of bright orange, pink, blue and red flowers are waiting in the wings to give their star performances. I can’t wait to see it all finished. You can find the plant list and discover much more here.

Plant life in South Africa is under threat

South Africa is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots – packed with plant species found nowhere else on the planet, which are also under threat and need our help. There are more than 20,000 species in the Republic of South Africa, thousands of which are endemic, but nearly 400 species are classified as vulnerable or (critically) endangered.

Needless to say, some great achievements have been made since seed collecting and banking began in South Africa in 1996. A collection of more than 2,500 species has been conserved and documented at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, of which more than 80 per cent are rare, threatened or of particular use to man. And of these 2,500 species, over 1,600 are endemics. Take a look at our science and conservation pages to find out more about our work in this region.

Kew is involved in many projects across the whole of this diverse and botanically important continent and you can help too – why not adopt a seed and help these projects to save species? What a great way that would be to help celebrate this fabulous country at this time!

But in the meantime what do you reckon my chances of winning that sweepstake are?

- Christina -

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