Priceless Plant Stolen From Garden

Rare water lily taken from botanical gardens in London

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 14, 2014 2:14 PM CST

(Newser) – Thieves who struck in London last week will need some serious green thumbs or their priceless loot won't be worth a cent. Someone dug up a tiny water lily from the Royal Botanic Gardens, reports CNN, and this is no ordinary lily. The Nymphaea thermarum is one of the world's rarest plants, with only a handful known to exist in the wild (in Rwanda) and propagated versions in existence only at botanical gardens in London and Bonn, Germany. It also happens to be the world's smallest water lily.

Officials at the London gardens pegged the value as "priceless," and the thieves likely knew exactly what they were taking, reports the Guardian. A thriving black market exists for such plants, and the best bet is that it will end up in the garden of a rich collector. He better study up, though: The plant informally known as the "pygmy Rwandan water lily" will grow only in mud of a precisely calibrated temperature. (Click to read about another unusual theft.)

The rare Nymphaea thermarum, a water lily.
The rare Nymphaea thermarum, a water lily.   (AP Photo/ Royal Botanical Gardens Kew)
In this image released rrom Britain's Kew Gardens, horticulturist Carlos Magdalena inspects the rare plant.
In this image released rrom Britain's Kew Gardens, horticulturist Carlos Magdalena inspects the rare plant.   (AP Photo/ Royal Botanical Gardens Kew)
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