Two-fifths of plants at risk of extinction, says report

2020/10/05 15:17

Today's Vocabulary

1. promise (n) 
the idea that someone or something is likely to develop successfully and that people expect this to happen

2. vanish (v) 
to disappear or stop being present or existing, especially in a sudden, surprising way

3. extinction (n) 
a situation in which something no longer exists

4. generate (v) 
to cause something to exist

5. fungi (n) 
any of various types of  organisms that get their food from decaying material or other living things

6. habitat (n) 
the natural environment in which an animal or plant usually lives 

7. biofuel (n) 
a fuel  that is made from living things or their waste

Two-fifths of plants at risk of extinction, says report

Scientists say they are racing against time to name and describe new plants, before species go extinct.

Plants and fungi hold promise as future medicines, fuels and foods, according to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. But opportunities are being lost to use this “treasure chest of incredible diversity” as species vanish due to habitat destruction and climate change.

New estimates suggest two-fifths of the world’s plants are at risk of extinction. The assessment of the State of the World’s Plants and Fungi is based on research from more than 200 scientists in 42 countries.

The report revealed that only a small proportion of existing plant species are used as foods and biofuels. More than 7,000 edible plants hold potential for future crops, yet only a handful are used to feed a growing world population.

And some 2,500 plants exist that could provide energy for millions worldwide, while only six crops – maize, sugarcane, soybean, palm oil, rapeseed and wheat – generate the vast majority of biofuels.

The research found 723 plants used for medicine are at risk of extinction, with over-harvesting a problem in some parts of the world. And 1,942 plants and 1,886 fungi were named as new to science in 2019, including species that might be valuable as foods, drinks, medicines or fibres.

The report contains a chapter on UK flora, which is better studied than in most parts of the world.


  1. What emerging things did a professor say new species could help?
  2. How important are plants?
  3. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘extinction’?

“Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.”