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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Seed bank saves endangered plants
Millennium Seed Bank, Alex Kirby
The Millennium Seed Bank aims to safeguard 24,000 species
The plant life of an entire continent has been safeguarded after samples of Antarctica's two species of flora were brought to a seed bank in West Sussex.

A botanist collected the seeds during a tourist trip to the Antarctic and took them to Kew Gardens at Wakehurst Place.

Donations officer, Steve Alton, said: "We now have them banked for safe keeping should anything happen to the plants in their natural habitat."

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank was set up to save plant species from extinction.

24,000 species

The seeds were collected by Dr Tim Rich, of the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, during a visit to Livingstone Island in the South Shetland Islands.

The islands lie off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The species collected were Ceschapsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis.

Kew's project aims to safeguard 24,000 plant species from around the globe against extinction.

It has already secured the future of almost all of the UK's native flowering plants.




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