If there’s no greater honor than saving a life, imagine the boss status that comes with saving an entire species. Those bragging rights belong to horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena, who single-handedly brought a very special African waterlily back from the brink of extinction.
Discovered by Professor Eberhard Fischer in 1987, the world’s smallest waterlily, Nymphaea thermarum, was found growing exclusively among the hot springs of southwestern Rwanda. Alarmed by their rapid disappearance in 2008 due to the exploitation of the plants’ water source, Professor Eberhard quickly sent seeds of the remaining waterlilies to Bonn Botanic Gardens for preservation. Eventually the seeds made their way to Kew Gardens in London where horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena began his life-saving research.
After much trial, error and frustration, Magdalena’s perseverance led to him to a crucial discovery. Unlike most waterlilies which grow submerged deep underwater, the Nymphaea thermarum actually thrives in warm mud. By maintaining steady of temperatures of 25°C along the banks, Magdalena has been able to cultivate over 30 healthy new plants which are currently on display at Kew Gardens.
If you’d like to help prevent plant extinction but lack the botanical skills, you can adopt a seed from Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London for £25. They’ll even throw in a personalized certificate, so your friends will know your hero status is legit.