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Nearly 600 plant species have gone extinct in last 250 years

17 / 06 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

When plants slide into extinction, they rarely make news. But more species of plants have disappeared from our planet than previously thought, a recent study has found. Since botanist Carl Linnaeus published Species Plantarum, a compendium of every known plant until 1753, at least 571 species of seed-bearing plants have gone extinct around the world. This number is nearly four times higher than the previous known estimate of around 150 plant species officially recognized as extinct in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The number is also more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians that are known to have gone extinct — though this is partly because there are more species of plants in general, researchers say. The true figure of plant extinction is also likely to be much higher, the researchers add, since the list includes only those species that scientists have looked for and recorded. “The real figure is undoubtedly higher, and a continued effort is underway to assess the threat status of each plant species,” Rafaël Govaerts, a co-author of the study and a botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K., writes in a blogpost. By combining information from the Red List, research papers, field work and herbaria, Govaerts found that on average at least two species of plants have gone extinct each year for the past 250 years. Among the extinct plants is the Chile sandalwood (Santalum fernandezianum), a tree that was overexploited for its aromatic wood, and was last photographed on…

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