A new primrose species is already under threat from mining for electric car parts, Kew Gardens scientists have warned.
A variety of Cape primrose found last year in Katanga, in the Congo, grows on copper ores in the mining region of the country.
The plant’s name, Streptocarpus malachiticola, means “growing on malachite” – because it is found on the Congo’s rich malachite seams, from which copper can be extracted for use in electrical wiring.
But it is under threat from the growing demand for copper as electric car sales rise.
Being able to grow on malachite is a useful adaptation – most plants can’t do that. So, score one for a useful evolutionary adaptation. Except, of course, when someone decides to come along and dig up the malachite at which point the environmental niche isn’t so useful.
Myself I find it interesting – or this bit at least. Does the malachite – or Cu – content have to be high enough to be worth mining to create the environment in which this primrose thrives? Or could we reseed worked out mines with them?