Billionth seed banked

The Guardian reports that the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, recently deposited the billionth seed in its genebank. Note, that’s not a billion species, or even a million, but the billionth seed1. Normally such blatant manipulation would be beneath our exalted notice, but Kew wisely chose a useful plant on which to bestow this singular honour.

  • In parts of Tanzania women depend on this species for local beer production as a major source of income.
  • It is used to make various types of local baskets for transporting produce, such as tomatoes in Iringa.
  • It is in high demand as a building material. It is used for scaffolding, furniture, general house construction, and fencing. Fences are susceptible to damage by termites and borers. The small stems are used for pipes and arrow shafts

All from FAO, which does not seem to think it is all that endangered. Still, Kew thinks it is worth banking, and that’s good enough for us.

  1. Which is to say, an entirely manufactured reason, which worked, for getting a bit of press coverage. []

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