World's smallest waterlily stolen after being dug up

. Credit: Metropolitan Police

A rare plant, which is now extinct in the wild, has been stolen from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew after being dug up from a shallow waterlily pond.

The 'Nymphaea Thermarum' is the smallest waterlily in the world, and was stolen from the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

  • The flower is made up of rosettes 10-20 cm wide with bright green lily pads

  • The lily pads can be as little as 1cm in diameter

  • The flowers are white with yellow stamens, and can be self-pollinating

There are over 50 Nymphaea thermarum plants in the Living Collection at Kew, which is the only place in the world where it is being propagated regularly and in large quantities.

. Credit: Metropolitan Police

The plant was discovered in 1987 by German botanist Professor Eberhard Fischer of Koblenz-Landau University. It is originally sourced from just one location in Mashyuza, in southwest Rwanda. It disappeared in the wild about two years ago due to over-exploitation of the hot spring that fed this fragile habitat.

The waterlily vanished on Thursday, 9 January 2014. Anyone with information is asked to call police on 020 8721 5934.