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Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

Scientists name new tropical tree species after Leonardo DiCaprio

Scientists name new tropical tree species after Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio has an Oscar, a BAFTA and three Golden Globe awards under his belt.

But his latest accolade comes from a group of international scientists at London's Royal Botanic Kew Gardens and the National Herbarium of Cameroon, who have honored the Hollywood actor and environmental activist by naming a new tropical tree species after him.

The uvariopsis dicaprio comes from the Ebo Forest, Cameroon, according to a press statement announcing the tropical tree, which is the first addition to the 2022 new species list at RBG Kew.

The Ebo Forests comprises half of the Yabassi Key Biodiversity Area, which is the ancestral region of more than 40 local communities, and is home to gorillas, forest elephants and chimpanzees, according to Key Biodiversity Areas.

In botany, plants are frequently named after scientists who have shown dedication to a field of research.

DiCaprio drew attention to the Yabassi Key Biodiversity Area when it was under threat from a logging concession last year.

The uvariopsis dicaprio belongs to the ylang-ylang family. It is four meters tall, and has bouquets of yellow and green flowers on the trunk.


"Cameroon's Ebo Forest, and all of the incredible animals that live there, are in trouble. This includes Forest Elephants, Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and so many others. Let's help #SaveEboForest," he said in a post published to his verified Twitter account in August 2020.

One month later, the Cameroonian government revoked the logging concession.

"We very much appreciated the support Leo gave us in campaigning to protect Ebo last year so it seemed fitting to honour him in this way, naming a species unique only to this forest, after him," Martin Cheek, a scientist at RBG Kew who was involved in the research, said in a statement announcing the findings, which were published in the scientific journal Peer J on Thursday.

"Had the logging concession gone ahead, we would have likely lost this species to timber extraction and slash and burn agriculture that usually follows logging concessions."

The uvariopsis dicaprio is a critically endangered species because it resides in an unprotected forest habitat, which is exposed to dangers including logging and mining.

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