New species of giant water lily identified in UK herbarium where they were kept for 177 years

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British researchers at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew have discovered a new species of giant water lily growing under their noses after they realised the plants had been mistakenly identified for years. The Victoria boliviana growing at Kew’s Herbarium is now recognised as the largest water lily in the world, with leaves that grow to more than 3 metres (10ft) across. Some scientists had suspected there was a third species among the herbarium’s famous giant water lilies named after Queen Victoria, but the researchers were unable to prove the theory without live specimens of the plants from their native habitat in Bolivia. After gathering enough evidence, they found that Victoria boliviana varies genetically and has a unique flower structure.

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