Britain's Metropolitan Police announced that thieves had stolen one of the world's smallest water lilies from London's Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew on Jan. 9. The plant--Nymphaea thermarum--was pulled from a shallow pond in the glass-enclosed conservatory where it had been on public display.
The critically endangered plant, native to one location in southwestern Rwanda, was discovered in 1987 and last seen in the wild in 2008. British horticulturists in 2012 were able to recreate the conditions needed for the delicate white and yellow flower, measuring .39 inches, to bloom.
Nearly extinct lily stolen from London garden | Boston Herald
Our staff are dedicated to the conservation of plants and when incidents of this nature occur it is a blow to morale. We take theft of our invaluable scientific collection of plants very seriously and this matter is with the Metropolitan Police.
– Richard Barley, Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew director of horticulture
The gardens have reproduced about 50 of the plants and weren't able to place a value on the stolen specimen. Officials think it may have been taken despite international laws preventing the movement of endangered plants by a collector who wanted to own the rare flower.
World's smallest water lily stolen from Kew Gardens - Telegraph