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Thousands of new medicinal plants discovered around the world

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This is good news for biodiversity. More than 28,000 plant species are currently listed as having medicinal uses, reveals a report published on Thursday 18 May by the Botanic Research Centre at Kew Gardens in London.
 
Au total, the reportThis is the second edition of the report, which aims to draw up a survey of plants in the world, and lists 28,187 plants with medicinal properties, a figure that is 59% higher than in 2016 and "probably very conservative". Among the new varieties discovered are nine species of a climbing plant called Mucuna, used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
 
The report highlights the enormous potential of plants in areas such as diabetes and malaria.« Monique Simmonds, Deputy Scientific Director of Kew Gardens, told AFP.
Artemisinin and quinine, two substances derived from plants, " are among the most important weapons in our arsenal to fight malaria, of which 214 million cases and 400,000 deaths have been recorded in 2015.« recalls the report. But despite their potential, fewer than 16% of the species used in remedies are cited in medical publications, the researchers note.
 
A total of 128 scientists from 12 different countries worked on the publication, which highlights the discovery of 1,730 new species compared to last year.
Among them are five new species of cassava, a variant of cassava, discovered in Brazil, which "have the potential to increase cassava harvests by diversifying them", thus constituting "a food of the future".

Risks related to globalization

The report also tracked the destruction of plants by analyzing satellite images.
Researchers have discovered that over the past sixteen years, " an average of 340 million hectares of the planet burn each year "or roughly speaking." the size of India« Dr. Sarah Wyse, who contributed to the report, told AFP. But if this figure seems alarming, Ms. Wyse stressed that some plants need these fires. regenerate" . " These fires in themselves are not a bad thing for many ecosystems because most plants adapt to fire."she said.
 
The authors also calculated that " the potential cost to world agriculture if the spread of invasive pests and pathogens is not stopped" is $540 billion ('492 billion) per year« . They stress the need for " stricter biosecurity measures "especially for the live plant trade. Globalization of trade and international travel facilitate, for example, the spread of locusts and other armyworms that are particularly destructive to maize.
 
Kew Gardens Estate in West London is home to one of the world's largest collections of plants in its greenhouses and beautiful gardens. It is also a world-renowned botanical research centre that aims to make its "State of the World's Plants" a reference tool.
 
Source AFP
Header image: Mucuna Pruriens
 

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