Biologists have discovered the world's largest water lily. Plant hidden from scientists for 177 years

The researchers used genetic testing to confirm the discovery of a new species that

they called Victoria Bolivian (Victoria boliviana). The plant came to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the 19th century, but for many years it was considered a different species - Victoria Amazonian.

Giant water lilies were first brought toGreat Britain from Bolivia in 1852. The whole genus of these plants was named Victoria, in honor of the queen who ruled at that time. The researchers assumed that there were only two species of this plant: Victoria amazonica and Victoria cruz. A new study shows that there is a third species.

Victoria Bolivian in the wild. Photo: RBG Kew

Victoria bolivian grows in the wild onone of the largest wetlands in the world, the Llanos de Moxos in the Beni province of Bolivia. She has many flowers, but they open in turn and only for two nights.

Water lily leaves look like something in betweensuspension bridge and the roof of an ancient cathedral, the researchers say. At the same time, they reach a size of more than 3 m. The largest plant of this species is located in the gardens of La Rinconada in Bolivia. The size of its leaves is 3.2 m.

Photo: Lucy Smith

Photo: RBG Kew

Despite its gigantic size, the new species is longwent unnoticed because there were no serious studies and there were no detailed descriptions of different plants, biologists say. They believe that in the face of declining biodiversity, the description of new species is a task of paramount importance.

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