Herbal Essences join forces with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to help save endangered plants from extinction through seed banking
Endangered plants need our help - now more than ever
Plants underpin all life on Earth, providing the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat – they’re the backbone of the world’s ecosystems.
However, experts predict that one in five plant species is at risk of annihilation. This means that plants are going extinct two times faster than animals.
Herbal Essences wants to act now. So, we’ve partnered with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to help protect some of the most threatened and endangered plant species. Biodiversity loss and threats to plant extinction exist everywhere, even close to our own backyards. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank works with local partners around the world like The Australian Seed Bank Partnership to help conserve seeds from species at risk of extinction. Banking seeds acts as an insurance policy, protecting species for generations to come and even allowing us to reintroduce plants if their natural habitat has been destroyed.
Plants play a powerful role in our environment, nutrition and medicine. Just by being around plants, we can improve our physical and mental wellbeing.
Despite this, they are going extinct at twice the rate that animals face. Endangered plants are not getting the attention that they deserve.
When we walk down the road, hike in a forest, or gaze out in our garden, there are tens or hundreds of species right before our eyes. But we are wired to ignore their details and diversity. That is a phenomenon called plant blindness, and consequently, plant extinction is an urgent crisis that is often overlooked. We don't get excited about plants the same way we are passionate about animals. We might notice a squirrel in a tree, but not the moss, fungi, and type of tree it's sitting on.
In fact, a study from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Stockholm University found that plant biodiversity loss is the biggest missed issue of the last decade, with experts predicting that one in five plant species is at risk of annihilation.
We’re at a turning point and need to act now.
“Biodiversity loss is impacted by climate change; yet more attention is paid to climate change. My research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew concentrates on how to stop biodiversity loss and in doing so realize the potential impact plants can have on a sustainable future – which is why it’s so critical to find solutions to protect against plant extinction,” said Professor Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
A seed bank stores seeds to protect the genetic information of the plant species as part of conservation efforts around biodiversity as well as providing opportunities to save and research plants. Seed banking offers a way to preserve a seed so it can be reintroduced into nature in the future.
Seed banks exist all over the world and require a low temperature and low moisture environment to store the resting seeds. Seed banks are essentially seed libraries for the future. When stored correctly, seeds can remain viable for decades or even centuries.
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank works with partners and seed banks across the globe to help with the conservation of seeds from these species of plants. This helps to protect and preserve plants that face natural habitat destruction and safeguard them from extinction.
Plants Power Our Lives, Let’s Return the Favor
Plants power everything - from diet and medicine, to beauty, to making the world a more joyful place. However, plants are going extinct two times faster than animals*. They urgently need our help.
Herbal Essences is committed to continue supporting Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank to help save 300 threatened and endangered plant species by the year 2030. We are not only supporting seed banking, but also helping drive awareness about biodiversity loss and eradicating plant blindness. We can all play a role in protecting our plants.
*research study between scientist at Stockholm University and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Save 20 in 2020 : Learn more about the 20 endangered plant species we are helping protect in Australia and New Zealand
Endemic to Southwest parts of Australia, this species is known as ‘Christmas Morrison’ as the beautiful rich yellow flowers bloom from October to February. In some areas it is still common however it has become threatened because of increased urban development in areas it grows.
Thelymitra Graminea - Thelymitrinae
Native to Southwest Australia were it grows in woodlands and forests, this beautiful and delicate plant is known as the ‘shy sun orchid’ because the flowers only open when it is sunny. It is not classed as being endangered but like many orchids, there are concerns that it could be threatened by over collection.
Patersonia Umbrosa var. Xanthina - Iridaceae
Native to Jarrah and Karri forests in Western Australian, this plant can be found growing in gravel and sandy soils. With its beautiful yellow flowers, this small plant is sometimes known as the Australian small iris as it belongs to the same family of plants. Currently the plant is not classified as threatened but because of its horticultural value there are concerns it might be overharvested.
Mentha atrolilacina – Lamiaceae
This plant belongs to the mint family and it was first discovered as recently as 2010. It is found in south east parts of Australia, and its rarity classifies the species as ‘near threatened’.
Boronia Edwardsii - Rutaceae
This species is known as ‘Island Boronia’. It is sensitive to changes in the climate and has become endangered in some of its coastal range in southern parts of Australia. Flowers of related species are used in perfumery and to flavour food.
Asterolasia Muricata – Rutaceae
This species is found in southern parts of Australia and populations were lost in the 2019 bushfires. This species is known as the ‘Lemon Star-bush’ because of its bright yellow star shaped flowers. Currently, there are seeds from just one population banked in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank and this species is classified as ‘near threatened’.
Leionema Hillebrandii – Rutaceae
With its delicate white flowers, this species is commonly known as Mount Lofty Leionema. The species is classified as near threatened and is endemic to the Adelaide Mountain Lofty Ranges. The plant is under threat for damage to its habitat and climate change.
Libertia Paniculata – Iridaceae
Native to South East Queensland, New South Wales, and Eastern Victoria, this species is commonly known as ‘Branching-grass flag’. It’s very delicate white flowers can be found in the shade, flowering from May to August. The species was not considered at risk, however populations have been destroyed in the recent bushfires. It is limited in its distribution to forest/wooded areas.
Macadamia Tetraphyla – Proteaceae
More commonly known as Rough-Shelled Bush Nut, this species is grown in New Zealand but is native to Australia and found across Northern New South Wales to Southeast Queensland. M. tetraphyla forms the basis of the commercial macadamia nut industry and Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act lists the species as “vulnerable”.
Known commonly as ‘Alpine Stork’s bill’, this species has suffered great loss from the 2003 and 2019 forest fires. This species is found throughout the high-altitude alpine heath of the Kosciusko district in New South Wales and has traditionally been used to treat coughs, ills, and upper respiratory infections. Australia’s Department of Environment and Primary Industries lists the species as ‘vulnerable’.
Mentha Satureioides – Lamiaceae
Commonly known as ‘native pennyroyal’, this species can be found throughout New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia in grassy areas and open woodland communities. The leaves smell like peppermint and can be added to hair tonics to treat scalp itch and to repel hair lice.
Brachyscome Muelleri - Corunna Daisy
A critically endangered species that is only known from a single population on the slopes of Corunna Hill in South Australia. Conservationists’ seed farmed this annual daisy for a reintroduction program with nearly half a million seeds harvested in 2019. This seed banking and reintroductions will help safeguard this annual daisy against its primary extinction threat: grazing by goats and sheep.
Acacia Cretacea - Chalky Wattle
A critically endangered wattle that is only known from a single population on northern Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. This endangered wattle can grow to four metres tall protruding above the surrounding bushland and sometimes reappears in large localised numbers after environmental disturbance cues such as bushfires. It was first recorded in 1962 but no further populations have been discovered since.
Eucalyptus Agglomerate - Blue-leaved Stringybark
Found in coastal, table land areas and steep slopes in the Blue Mountains, this species is important food for Koalas. Leaf extracts from related species are used to make drinks and oils added to soaps to deter insects. These oils can be also used in products to offset the impacts of colds.
Drosera Binate - Forked Sundew or Fork-leaved Sundew
Found in New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania (in coastal areas to sub-alpine heights in boggy ground), this carnivorous plant feeds on insects with tentacles on the forked leaves that secrete a sticky dew. This plant is sometimes overharvested because of collectors' interest in this type of plant.
Found on the North island of New Zealand, this beautiful plant is considered to be threatened in New Zealand particularly due to overgrazing of livestock. Hibiscus species are considered to help aid scalp health and promote hair growth, with parts of the flower rich in Vitamin C and amino acids which nourish your hair.
Clematis Paniculate - Flower Of The Skies
Known by its Māori name Puawhananga, meaning “flower of the skies”, this plant grows between August and November. The plant is considered to have great cultural significance in the Māori culture and there are records of past ancestors using the plant to cure many different ailments. Leaves of other species of Clematis have been used in hair products to soothe dry skin, especially for those suffering from flaky skin.
Leptospermum Scoparium - Manuka
This shrub is native to New Zealand and Australia and grows in lowland to subalpine areas. It was once seen as a weed but with the increase in global demand for Manuka honey, is now considered to be economically beneficial. Extracts from the leaves are used in cosmetics to protect against UV and skin ageing to provide some antibacterial activity. In hair products it is reported to sooth itchy and flaky skin.
Dracophyllum Traversii – Neinei
This unusual plant is native to the mountains of North Island and the upper half of South Island of New Zealand. The plant is used for its fiber and making traditional flutes. The species is not currently threatened, however it is not easy to grow commercially.
The ‘Twining Finger flower’, the species name “volubilis” is Latin meaning to turn or twine. The plant twines itself round twigs of other plants. It has beautiful blue flowers with yellow anthers that are positioned as if they were hands on a clock. Endemic to South Australia and is only known in the wild on Kangaroo Island. The species is considered threatened and very rare because of habitat loss.