One in five of the world's plant species is threatened with extinction
A global analysis of extinction risk for the world's plants, conducted by Kew together with the Natural History Museum, London and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has revealed that the world’s plants are as threatened as mammals, with one in five of the world’s plant species threatened with extinction. The study, entitled IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants, is a major baseline for plant conservation and is the first time that the true extent of the threat to the world’s estimated 380,000 plant species is known.
This staggering analysis was announced just as Governments met in Nagoya, Japan, in mid-October 2010 to set new targets at the United Nations' Biodiversity Summit.
Ongoing research and data collection will reveal even more information on the status and trends of the world’s plants. For the Convention on Biological Diversity, as part of the ‘Aichi’ Biodiversity Targets of 2020, we aim to reassess this sample of plant species as part of an ongoing global monitoring effort, so threats and trends can be understood.
The facts about plant life
Plants provide the foundation for most of the world's ecosystems and are vital for providing food, clean water and soil, medicine and regulating our climate.
- Plants are more threatened than birds and as threatened as mammals.
- More than 20% of plants are threatened with extinction.
- The most threatened habitat is tropical rainforest.
- One of the greatest threats facing plants today, is the conversion of natural habitats for agriculture or livestock use.
- Gymnosperms (the plant group including conifers and cycads) are the most endangered plant group.
Example plant profiles
Discover interesting facts and figures about some of the plant species assessed as part of this project. Every plant tells a story.
- Agrostis trachychlaena
- Amazon lily (Caliphruria tenera)
- Blushing bride (Tillandsia ionantha)
- Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)
- Dypsis brevicaulis
- Eastern Cape giant cycad (Encephalartos altensteinii)
- Hazovola (Dalbergia andapensis)
- Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus)
- Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba)
- Stone pine (Pinus pinea)
- Tree tumbo (Welwitschia mirabilis)
- Whited’s milkvetch (Astragalus sinuatus)
- Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis)
- Wood bitter-vetch (Vicia orobus)
Explore the world's plant life
Use Kew's interactive map and charts to explore the state of plant life around the world and find out more about plants at risk.
Find out about the state of the world's plant life and compare the level of threat facing different plant groups and habitats.
- Interactive map - Explore the state of plant life around the world
- Compare the level of threat facing different plant groups
- See which habitat types are most endangered
- Find out what poses the biggest threat to plant life today. Is it man or nature?
Help Kew make a difference
With four plant species a day at risk of disappearing forever, it’s never been more urgent to protect the endangered plants which may be key to our survival.
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership has successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species and we have set our sights on saving 25% by 2020. Without plants there could be no life on earth, and yet every day another four plant species face extinction.
For just £1,000 or £2,000 you can save a plant species. Or you can get involved by adopting a seed for just £25. Why not get together with friends to save a plant species and know that together you have played a vital part in protecting our environment.
Whatever you decide to do, even if it's just letting your friends know about our campaign, you've made a difference - please decide to help.
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