Marking International Biological Diversity Day

Yesterday, the billionth seed was deposited in the Kew Garden’s Millenium Seed Bank on the occasion of International Biological Diversity Day.Currently, the Millenium Seed Bank houses seeds from over 18,000 wild plant species collected from 126 countries. Within the next three years, it is estimated that 33,000 of such species will be stored in the collection.

The theme of this year’s International Biological Diversity Day focussed on the impact of climate change. But equally important factors contributing to the threat of or extinction of wild plant species are: loss of habitat, over-exploitation and invasive alien plant species.

Today I went on a search for a better understanding of what biodiversity is and why it is of increasing importance. According to the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, a simple definition of biodiversity is,

Biodiversity is the diversity among living organisms in terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part.

Plant biodiversity is essential for maintaining healthy food supplies, for medicinal reasons (with 80% of the world relying on plant remedies in traditional medicine), for fibres, fuel and building supplies.

And speaking of plant remedies in traditional medicine, an interesting fact I learned at the Kew Gardens website is that:

The common aspirin is used by 10 million people a day, curing headaches, fevers, colds and flu. It derives from the bark of a willow tree.

Since it has been raining throughout the day, I am posting a picture of a clump of blooming grape hyacinths. They seem to be enjoying this rain … keep your fingers crossed that it does not freeze here over the next few days!!

9 thoughts on “Marking International Biological Diversity Day

  1. I never knew that common aspirin came from the bark of the willow tree. And that sure is a lot of seeds.

  2. Hi Kate! Can you imagine how long it would take to count to a billion? Yikes! But it’s fantastic that the Seed Bank is conserving so many seeds of plants — especially the plants that face extinction. What an urgent and important job this is. Thank you so much for sharing what you learned today about biodiversity. I really enjoyed reading this. We all need to learn as much as we can about this — as fast as we can too. And I love your photo of the blooming grape hyacinths.

  3. what an interesting post. we live quite near the seed bank at Wakehurst Place which is a fascinating place to visit!Kim x

  4. Hi there, I just found you from the GardenPath site. Nice post. Michael Pollen’s book, The Botany of Nature, is an interesting read on biodiversity. A billion is a lot!

  5. Those hyacinths are beautiful…sweet little things stand so tall and proud. And thanks for the info on biodiversity, Kate…it is so important to maintain the delicate balance of our planet. I think your garden is a perfect example of how balance springs forth great bounty and beauty!xo

  6. I learned about the origin of the aspirin today! And I know that the biodiversity and ecosystem in my pond isn’t what it should be… We’re working on that.Thanks, Kate! You made me think :o)I’d be shocked if you experience a freeze.

  7. I love Kew… Wonder if it still is only a penny to go in?thanks Kate – a great post, I enjoy that you cover different topics..tcS

  8. Very interesting and informative post…that’s an amazing amount of seeds.Interesting about the aspirin, who knew?Still raining? How’s the basement?

  9. Hi Kate, Very interesting. I’m wondering if there is anything like that in the US. I am grateful there are people who will do such time consuming and important work such as that. I had once read that a tea of slippery elm bark will sooth a sore throat. Must be the pain killing chemicals that the asprin is derived from. Thanks, Alyssa

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