Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew recently discovered a new species of tree. The tree grows only in the Cameroon forest and has been given the official scientific name – Uvariopsis dicaprio, named after Leonardo DiCaprio.
According to BBC News, the scientists shared that they wanted to honour the star for his help in saving a rainforest from logging. “We think he was crucial in helping to stop the logging of the Ebo Forest,” said Dr. Martin Cheek of Kew.
The Hollywood A-lister has been a longtime advocate for environment-related problems. DiCaprio campaigned on social media after Cameroon granted permission for logging in the pristine wildlife reserve in 2020. The government much later revoked plans to allow logging, although the forest has yet to be officially designated a national park.
The ‘dicaprio’ tree is the first plant new to science to be officially named by Kew scientists in 2022, through publication in the scientific journal, PeerJ.
The small tropical evergreen tree is four metres tall, with 15 cm long leaves bearing glossy yellow flowers from its trunk. A member of the ylang ylang family, they are found only in a small area of the forest and is critically endangered. The Uvariopsis dicaprio has been provisionally listed and assessed as critically endangered.
“There are still thousands of plant species and maybe millions of fungal species out there that we don’t know about…This natural habitat that they’re growing in – especially forests, but other habitats, too, is increasingly and more rapidly being destroyed by us humans without knowing what’s there,” Dr. Martin Cheek as quoted by the BBC.