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Leonardo DiCaprio Gets New Tree Named After Him By Kew Scientists

By Oreoritse Tariemi
06 January 2022   |   1:24 pm
Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have named a new tree species after actor Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio had this honour bestowed on him for his help in saving the Ebo rainforest from logging.  The Uvariopsis DiCaprio tree grows only in the Cameroonian forest known for its incredible biodiversity. "We think he was crucial in helping to…

Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have named a new tree species after actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio had this honour bestowed on him for his help in saving the Ebo rainforest from logging. 

The Uvariopsis DiCaprio tree grows only in the Cameroonian forest known for its incredible biodiversity.

“We think he was crucial in helping to stop the logging of the Ebo Forest,” said Dr Martin Cheek of Kew.

The Ebo forest remains one of the largest relatively untouched rainforests in Central Africa. Home to a wide range of unique plants and animals, including rare gorillas, chimps and forest elephants, the Ebo forest is also home to the Banen people. 

Scientists and conservationists were enraged when plans to allow vast swathes of the Ebo Forest to be opened up for logging were announced. 

Receiving global attention, international experts wrote to the Cameroonian government on the animal and plant species that may become extinct if logging was allowed in the rainforest. Showing support, DiCaprio added momentum to the campaign through social media posts shared with millions of followers. 

While the government revoked the logging plans, the rainforest is yet to be designated a national park.

“This could just be a stay of execution,” Martin Cheek at the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said.

Uvariopsis DiCaprio

Researchers at the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the National Herbarium of Cameroon and the University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon, analysed the photos and specimens of the tree found in Cameroon’s tropical Ebo forest.

Through their research, they determined that the tree was previously unknown to science and among local communities.

4 metres tall, Uvariopsis DiCaprio is recognisable through the distinctive and vibrant glossy yellow-green flowers that grow on its trunk. It is also related to the ylang-ylang tree (Cananga odorata) native to India, South-East Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

The only 50 individual U. DiCaprio trees have been spotted, confined to a single, unprotected area of Ebo forest, making it critically endangered.