The botanical discovery of a lifetime has been made, not in the Amazon rainforest or high Himalayas, but in the middle of one of the world's busiest public gardens.
A previously unknown species of giant water lily has been discovered by staff at London's Kew Gardens. For the last 177 years, it has been growing right under their noses.
The plant whose floating leaves grow to over 320 centimetres across has been described as a 'botanical wonder of the world'. The previously unknown species of lily is thought to be the world's biggest and produces blooms only at night. These nocturnal flowers are larger than a human head.
The plant, originally mislabelled, came to the pleasure gardens from South America in 1845. Its offspring has been bobbing around in the greenhouse pond ever since.
Botanist Natalia Przelomska said the discovery was made while they were checking the stock of rare plants.
As habitats for rare plant species come under threat the task is increasingly important "in the face of a fast rate of biodiversity loss," she said.
Some plants collected by Victorian gardeners are now critically endangered in the wild. However, this giant lily was previously unknown to science.
The discovery was published in journal Frontiers in Plant Science, after two decades of investigation and cataloguing the gardens' water plants.
For horticulturist Carlos Magdalena it has been a validation of a scientific hunch.
"Ever since I first saw a picture of this plant online in 2006, I was convinced it was a new species," he said, calling it the "biggest achievement of my 20-year career at Kew."
Given the name Victoria boliviana, it is named in honour of the Bolivian research teams who helped categorise the giant plant. Today its relatives still can be found in the Llanos de Moxos in Bolivia.
One of the most remarkable features of the lily is that they only bloom at night. The Gardens in west London have been running late night events and other special tours of the greenhouses for visitors.
They're hoping the new discovery will bring more guests to come and explore their collections.
Who knows what they might find?