Plantago erosa var.fengdouensis, a rare plant that was dubbed the "floral panda," was saved from extinction by researchers in central China's Wuhan. The researchers have mastered the artificial propagation of these plants.
The local Chutian Metropolis Daily said that before the researchers announced their achievement, there were media reports saying that there were only 27 such plants around the globe.
"We have reproduced hundreds of this plant using artificial measures," Wang Yong, a doctor from Wuhan Botanical Garden was quoted as saying.
These plants were discovered by experts on an isle in the Yangtze River in April 2001 and they named the plants "Plantago erosa var.fengdouensis" after they were identified as a new variation of the Plantago erosa Wall.
These plants were also distributed on the other two isles in the river, Wang added.
Plantago erosa var.fengdouensis belongs to the plantaginaceae family and has jagged-edged indented leaves. They usually grow in small clusters, according to the description by Wang.
To protect the plants from the flooding season of the reservoir, researchers have moved the plants to the botanical garden but few of them survived. From 2001 to 2007, the population of the plant shrank from 290 to 27.
The seeds of the plants are comparatively larger than other fellow species, which makes natural propagation through wind or water very hard, the doctor analyzed.
Starting in 2004, the experts from the garden have been doing experiments on the collected seeds and finally made a breakthrough by grasping the technique of artificially reproducing the plants.
The garden will have at least 1,000 Plantago erosa var.fengdouensis growing in 2012.