Plant life is under threat, but how do we know?
There are more than 380,000 species of plants known to science and many more yet to be discovered.
Some well known species of plants have been intensively studied, but many others, especially in tropical biodiversity hotspots, are only known from the scientific paper where the plant was first described and have never been studied since. Most plant species have no distribution map or population survey and most countries do not have an up-to-date list of their plant species.
From the results of the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants, it is possible to say for the first time which plants are more threatened, where and why. Find out more about the IUCN Red List Index here.
The sample of plant species assessed in this report is representative of the world’s plants as a whole, and enough species have been assessed to give much more detail about threats to plants from different habitats and regions. By combining the results for each of the major plant groups, a robust picture of the threats facing plant diversity emerges. You can browse Kew's example plant profiles here. Every plant has a story to tell.
Amazon lily (Caliphruria tenera)
A bulbous herb with small white flowers, Caliphruria tenera has not been recorded in the wild since 1853, and is now considered to be possibly extinct.
Plant species assessed as Critically Endangered (CR) and considered Possibly Extinct have an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild or are already likely to be extinct. More about the IUCN Red List Index categories and criteria.
Eastern Cape giant cycad (Encephalartos altensteinii)
The Eastern Cape giant cycad originates from South Africa, is long-lived and slow growing, and is popular as an ornamental plant.
Plant species assessed as Vulnerable have a high risk of extinction in the wild. More about the IUCN Red List Index categories and criteria.
A rare grass species that grows in loose clumps on rocky slopes, Agrostis trachychlaena is restricted to Inaccessible Island and Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. It occurs within an area of only 16 km² and fewer than 250 mature individuals are thought to survive.
Plant species assessed as Endangered have a high risk of extinction in the wild. More about the IUCN Red List Index categories and criteria.
Blushing bride (Tillandsia ionantha)
Blushing bride is a common houseplant, admired for its contrasting violet flower spikes and red inner leaves. It is found from Mexico to Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) at 450-1,700 metres above sea level.
Plant species assessed as Near Threatened are likely to become vulnerable in the near future. More about the IUCN Red List Index categories and criteria.
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