Noah’s Ark for plants hits important milestone: 40,000 different plant species

Noah’s Ark for plants hits important milestone: 40,000 different plant species. Image: Royal Botanical Gardens / Kew

The plant species are banked at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, England.

A world-leading seed conservation programme led by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is celebrating a major milestone in its efforts to preserve rare, threatened, and important wild plants.

The Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) has banked more than 2.4 billion individual seeds representing a total of 40,020 different species of wild plants.

Described by scientists as ‘Noah’s Ark for plants’, the MSB is the world’s biggest wild seed storage facility, situated at the heart of Kew’s ‘living laboratory’ and wild botanic gardens, Wakehurst, in rural Sussex.

Within the bomb and flood-proof building are 98,567 seed collections sourced from 190 countries and territories, across all seven continents, nine biogeographic regions, and 36 biodiversity hotspots.

In fact, the MSB holds the Guinness World Records title for the world’s ‘largest seed bank’.

MSB’s Senior Research Leader, Dr Elinor Breman, confirmed: “Housed within the vaults of the Millennium Seed Bank is the world’s largest and most diverse collection of plants anywhere on the planet which makes it an invaluable tool for scientists tackling the global biodiversity crisis.”

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Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.