1. ITV Report

World's smallest waterlily stolen after being dug up

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.

. Credit: Metropolitan Police

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

Our staff are dedicated to the conservation of plants and when incidents of this nature occur it is a blow to morale.

We take theft of our invaluable scientific collection of plants very seriously and this matter is with the Metropolitan Police

– Kew Gardens

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.

Soon after its discovery, Professor Fischer realised that the species was in jeopardy and he transported a few plants to Bonn Botanic Gardens.

At Bonn, horticulturists were very successful at growing these valuable specimens, and they lasted for more than a decade.

However, the species proved extremely difficult to propagate.

– Kew Gardens

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