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World's oldest plant repotted in London

July 29, 2009 at 10:55 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, July 29 (UPI) -- A centuries-old cycad specimen, a palm-like tree that is the world's oldest living potted plant, has been re-potted, a worker at Kew Gardens in London says.

The Daily Mail reported Tuesday's delicate operation required a crane, three months of careful planning and nine people guiding the trunk to place the plant in its new mahogany container. The pot is about 4 feet tall and holds a ton of soil to help support the leaning plant.

Wes Shaw, a gardens keeper at the gardens' Palm House, said the tree arrived at Kew in 1775 and has been growing 1 inch in height and girth every year.

"When I think of how many gardeners have cared for this plant, it gives me a real sense of the heritage and importance of the collection at Kew -- and the incentive to keep it thriving through my time at the Palm House," said Shaw.

The plant was gathered for Kew Gardens during Captain Cook's second voyage around the world in the early 1770s. The botanical site, which officially became Kew Gardens in 1759, is preparing to celebrate its 250th anniversary.

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