In Summary
  • Despite their potential, just 16 percent of the plants Kew recorded as being for medical use are cited in regulatory publications.
  • Kew's expansive gardens in west London and vast botanic collections, containing over 8.5 million items, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The institution's second annual "State of the World's Plants" report involved 128 scientists from 12 countries, who since the first survey have discovered 1,730 new plant species.

More than 28,000 species of plants around the world have a medical use but poor documentation means people are not making the most of the health benefits, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London recorded 28,187 species in its latest annual survey and said it was probably a "very conservative figure".

New plants discovered over the past year include nine species of a climbing vine used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, the survey found.

"The report is highlighting the huge potential that there is for plants, in areas like diabetes and malaria," said Monique Simmonds, deputy director of science at the world-famous botanical group.

The report said two plants, artemisinin and quinine, are "among the most important weapons" against malaria, which killed over 400,000 people in 2015.

Despite their potential, just 16 percent of the plants Kew recorded as being for medical use are cited in regulatory publications.

Kew's expansive gardens in west London and vast botanic collections, containing over 8.5 million items, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The institution's second annual "State of the World's Plants" report involved 128 scientists from 12 countries, who since the first survey have discovered 1,730 new plant species.

They include five new species of Manihot found in Brazil, seven new Aspalathus plants used for making South African rooibos tea, and a new parsnip species uncovered in Turkey.

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