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A new species of giant water lily has been discovered

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Botanists have identified a new species of giant water lily big enough for two people to sit and float on its lily pad.

CARLOS MAGDALENA: They look a little bit like a giant frying pan, if you like.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

A giant, green frying pan. Carlos Magdalena is one of the researchers who broke with the scientific thinking that there were only two species of giant water lilies.

MAGDALENA: They are quite difficult to collect in the wild because explorers - if they are working in the forest and they see one 1 kilometer away in the middle of a lake, it's a bit of a drama to get there.

MARTINEZ: But Magdalena began growing specimens in a place where they'd be a little easier to reach and observe - at Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. And he noticed that some of them produced different lily pads, flowers and seeds.

MAGDALENA: Everywhere you look in the plant, you can find the difference.

FADEL: Magdalena credits a childhood fascination with water lilies for making it all possible.

MAGDALENA: Utterly obsessing is fantastic when you get obsessed with doing something fantastic.

FADEL: That fantastic discovery is a brand-new species now known as Victoriana boliviana.

MARTINEZ: And Magdalena says every time you discover a new species, it makes it possible for conservationists to protect them.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIFTY EARTH'S "PINECREST") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.