First Newly Identified Plant Species of 2022 Named After Environmental Activist, Leonardo DiCaprio

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Researchers counted fewer than 50 individual plants, which all grow in an unprotected area of the forest. Lorna MacKinnon via Peer J

The First Newly Identified Plant Species of 2022 Was Named After Leonardo DiCaprio

by Rasha Aridi/Smithsonianmag.com

Leonardo DiCaprio has been a vocal environmental activist for years, and scientists honored his efforts by naming a critically endangered plant—and the first plant species described by science this year—after him, Damian Carrington reports for the Guardian.

The plant, Uvariopsis dicaprio, is an evergreen tree found in Cameroon. It reaches about 13 feet tall and has glossy, yellow-green leaves growing in bunches along its trunk. Researchers credit DiCaprio’s activism with helping save the tropical Ebo Forest, the plant’s home, Chen Ly reports for New Scientist.

Researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG) in the United Kingdom led the study to describe U. dicaprio, which was published this week in the journal Peer J.

“We very much appreciated the support Leo gave us in campaigning to protect Ebo last year so it seemed fitting to honor him in this way, naming a species unique only to this forest, after him,” study author Martin Cheek, a researcher at RBG Kew, says in a statement.

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