London, Sept 29 (IANS): One in five of the world's plants is likely to become extinct.
The first study of its kind estimates that up to 100,000 species are in danger of disappearing altogether -- and that the destruction and burning of forests is largely to blame.
Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew said plants were more threatened than birds and as much at risk of disappearing as mammals.
Most of the endangered plants grow in tropical rainforests such as the Amazon lily, which has not been recorded in the wild since 1853, reports the Daily Mail.
Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Prof. Stephen Hopper, said: "This study confirms what we already suspected, that plants are under threat and the main cause is human induced habitat loss."
"Plants are the foundation of biodiversity and their significance in uncertain climatic, economic and political times has been overlooked for far too long."
"We cannot sit back and watch plant species disappear -- plants are the basis of all life on Earth, providing clean air, water, food and fuel. All animal and bird life depends on them and so do we."
The study, the Sampled Red List Index for Plants, looked at a representative sample of 7,000 species from five major groups of plants - mosses, ferns, conifers, flowering plants such as orchids, and grasses - and legumes.
It found that 22 percent of the 4,000 assessed species were critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.