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World's Largest Greenhouse Reopens to Safeguard Earth's Rarest and Most Threatened Plants

May 07 2018 | 10:04:50
The world's largest Victorian greenhouse will reopen its doors Saturday after a five-year, £41 million ($55 million) restoration effort.The Temperate House, first opened to the public in 1863, is located in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, about 30 minutes from central London.The greenhouse is home to 10,000 plants from 1,500 species native to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands, including some of the rarest and most threatened.There you'll find the Yellow fatu, a critically endangered perennial plant native to Pitcairn Island, a remote island in the South Pacific. The delicate flower can no longer be found in the wild after a landslide destroyed the last remaining plant.
You'll also see the loneliest plant in the world—a male Wood's cycad. Lead horticulturalist Scott Taylor, who oversees the Temperate House collection, explained to the BBC that the search is still going for a female cycad so Encephalartos woodii can be bred."We have a really important job to keep all of these things going," Taylor said. "For some plants that are down to a few individuals in the wild—a wildfire, an earthquake, and they're gone."