Herbal Essences join forces with

the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to help save endangered plants from extinction through seed banking

Endangered plants need our help – now more than ever

Plants underpin all life on Earth, providing us with the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat – they’re the backbone of the worl'd ecosystems.

However, experts predict that one in five plant species is at risk of dying out. This means that plants are going extinct two times faster than animals.

Herbal Essences wants to act now. That's why we’ve partnered with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to help protect some of the most threatened and endangered plant species. Biodiversity loss and the threat of plant extinction is everywhere, even in our own backyards. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank works with local partners around the world like the Center for Plant Conservation in Escondido, California to help conserve seeds from species at risk of extinction. Banking seeds acts as an insurance policy, protecting species for generations to come and even allowing us to reintroduce plants if their natural habitat has been destroyed.

Plant Blindness

Plants play an important role in our environment, nutrition and medicine. Just by being around plants, we can improve our physical and mental wellbeing.

Despite this, they are going extinct at twice the rate that animals face. Endangered plants are not getting the attention that they deserve.

When we walk down the road, hike through a forest, or gaze out into our garden, there are tens or even hundreds of species right before our eyes. But we are wired to ignore their details and diversity, a phenomenon called plant blindness. Consequently, plant extinction is an urgent crisis that is often overlooked. We don't get excited about plants in the same way we feel passionate about animals. We might notice a squirrel in a tree, but not the moss, fungi, and type of tree it's sitting on.

In fact, a study from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Stockholm University found that plant biodiversity loss is the biggest missed issue of the last decade, with experts predicting that one in five plant species is at risk of dying out.

We’re at a turning point and we need to act now.

*“Biodiversity loss is impacted by climate change; yet more attention is paid to climate change. My research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew concentrates on how to stop biodiversity loss and in doing so realise the potential impact plants can have on a sustainable future – which is why it’s so critical to find solutions to protect against plant extinction”, said Professor Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Seed Banking

A seed bank stores seeds to protect the genetic information of the plant species as part of conservation efforts around biodiversity, as well as providing opportunities to save and research plants. Seed banking offers a way to preserve a seed so it can be reintroduced into nature in the future.
Seed banks exist all over the world and require a low-temperature and low-moisture environment to store the resting seeds. Seed banks are essentially seed libraries for the future. When stored correctly, seeds can remain viable for decades or even centuries.

Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank works with partners and seed banks across the globe to help with the conservation of seeds from these species of plants. This helps to protect and preserve plants that face natural habitat destruction and safeguard them from extinction.

Plants Power Our Lives – Let’s Return the Favour

Plants power everything – from food and medicine to beauty, to making the world a more joyful place. However, plants are going extinct at a rate two times faster than animals*. They urgently need our help.

Herbal Essences is committed to continue supporting Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank to help save 300 threatened and endangered plant species by the year 2030. We are not only supporting seed banking, but also helping drive awareness about biodiversity loss and eradicating plant blindness. We can all play a role in protecting our plants.

*research study between scientist at Stockholm University and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Save 20 in 2020 : Learn more about the 20 endangered plant species we are helping to protect in Australia and New Zealand

Verticordia Nitens

Endemic to south-west Australia, this species is known as ‘Christmas Morrison’ as the beautiful, rich yellow flowers bloom from October to February. In some areas it is still common, however it has become endangered because of increased urban development in the areas it grows.

Thelymitra Graminea - Thelymitrinae

Native to south–west Australia where it grows in woodlands and forests, this beautiful and delicate plant is known as the ‘shy sun orchid’ because the flowers only open when it's sunny. It is not classed as being endangered but like many orchids, there are concerns that it could be threatened by over-collection.

Patersonia umbrosa var. Xanthina – Iridaceae

Native to the Jarrah and Karri forests in Western Australia, this plant can be found growing in gravel and sandy soils. With its beautiful yellow flowers, this small plant is sometimes known as the 'Australian small iris' as it belongs to the same family of plants. Currently the plant is not classified as endangered, but because of its horticultural value there are concerns it might be over-harvested.

Mentha atrolilacina – Lamiaceae

This plant belongs to the mint family and it was first discovered as recently as 2010. It is found in south-east Australia, and its rarity classifies the species as ‘near threatened’.

Boronia Edwardsii - Rutaceae

This species is known as ‘Island Boronia’. It is sensitive to changes in the climate and has become endangered in some of its coastal range in southern parts of Australia. Flowers of related species are used in perfumery and to flavour food.

Asterolasia Muricata – Rutaceae

This species is found in southern Australia and populations were lost in the 2019 bushfires. It's known as the ‘Lemon Star' bush because of its bright yellow, star-shaped flowers. Currently, there are seeds from just one population banked in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank and this species is classified as ‘near threatened’.

Leionema Hillebrandii – Rutaceae

With its delicate white flowers, this species is commonly known as 'Mount Lofty Leionema'. The species is classified as 'near threatened' and is endemic to the Adelaide Mountain Lofty Ranges. The plant is under threat due to damage to its habitat and climate change.

Libertia Paniculata – Iridaceae

Native to South-Eeast Queensland, New South Wales, and Eastern Victoria, this species is commonly known as ‘Branching grass-flag’. Its very delicate white flowers can be found in the shade, flowering from May to August. The species was not considered at risk, however populations have been destroyed in the recent bushfires. It is limited in its distribution to forest/wooded areas.

Macadamia Tetraphyla – Proteaceae

More commonly known as the 'Rough-Shelled Bush Nut', this species is grown in New Zealand but is native to Australia and found across Northern New South Wales and South-east Queensland. M. tetraphyla forms the basis of the commercial macadamia nut industry and Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act lists the species as 'vulnerable'.

Pelargonium Helmsii

Known commonly as ‘Alpine Stork’s bill’, this species has suffered great loss from the 2003 and 2019 forest fires. This species is found throughout the high-altitude alpine heath of the Kosciusko district in New South Wales and has traditionally been used to treat coughs, colds and upper respiratory tract infections. Australia’s Department of Environment and Primary Industries lists the species as ‘vulnerable’.

Mentha Satureioides – Lamiaceae

Commonly known as ‘native pennyroyal’, this species can be found throughout New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia in grassy areas and open woodland communities. The leaves smell like peppermint and can be added to hair tonics to treat an itchy scalp and to repel hair lice.

Brachyscome Muelleri - Corunna Daisy

A critically endangered species that is only known from a single population on the slopes of Corunna Hill in South Australia. Conservationists’ seed farmed this annual daisy for a reintroduction programme with nearly half a million seeds harvested in 2019. This seed banking and reintroductio will help safeguard this annual daisy against its primary extinction threat: grazing by goats and sheep.

Acacia Cretacea - Chalky Wattle

A critically endangered wattle that is only known from a single population on the northern Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. This endangered wattle can grow to four metres tall, protruding above the surrounding bushland and sometimes reappearing in large localised numbers after environmental disturbance cues, such as bushfires. It was first recorded in 1962 but no further populations have been discovered since.

Eucalyptus Agglomerate - Blue-leaved Stringybark

Found in coastal, table land areas and steep slopes in the Blue Mountains, this species is important food for Koalas. Leaf extracts from related species are used to make drinks and its oils are added to soaps to deter insects. These oils can be also used in products to offset cold symptoms.

Drosera Binate - Forked Sundew or Fork-leaved Sundew

Found in New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania (in coastal areas to sub-alpine heights in boggy ground), this carnivorous plant feeds on insects with tentacles on the forked leaves that secrete a sticky dew. This plant is sometimes overharvested because of collectors' interest in this type of plant.

Hibiscus Diversifolius

Found on the North Island of New Zealand, this beautiful plant is considered to be threatened in New Zealand due to the overgrazing of livestock. Hibiscus species are considered to help promote scalp health and hair growth, with parts of the flower rich in Vitamin C and amino acids which nourish your hair.

Clematis Paniculate - Flower Of The Skies

Known by its Māori name Puawhananga, meaning 'flower of the skies', this plant grows between August and November. The plant is considered to have great cultural significance in the Māori culture and there are records of past ancestors using the plant to cure many different ailments. Leaves of other species of Clematis have been used in hair products to soothe dry skin, especially for those suffering from flaky skin.

Leptospermum Scoparium - Manuka

This shrub is native to New Zealand and Australia and grows in lowland to sub-alpine areas. It was once seen as a weed but with the increase in global demand for Manuka honey, it is now considered to be economically beneficial. Extracts from the leaves are used in cosmetics to protect against UV and skin ageing and for its antibacterial properties. In hair products it is reported to soothe itchy and flaky skin.

Dracophyllum Traversii – Neinei

This unusual plant is native to the mountains of the North Island and the upper half of the South Island of New Zealand. The plant is used for its fibres and making traditional flutes. The species is not currently threatened, however it is not easy to grow commercially.

Cheiranthera Volubilis

The ‘Twining Finger Flower’ or 'volubilis' is Latin meaning to turn or twine. The plant twines itself around twigs of other plants. It has beautiful blue flowers with yellow anthers that are positioned as if they were hands on a clock. The plant is endemic to South Australia and is only known to grow in the wild on Kangaroo Island. The species is considered threatened and very rare because of habitat loss.