Rare flowers destroyed in Australia after paperwork error

Flowers bloom in front of the French National Museum of Natural History in ParisImage copyright
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Image caption

The flowers (not pictured) were on loan from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris

Australian biosecurity officers have destroyed historic plant specimens on loan from France after a paperwork mix-up.

A box of rare daisies from the 1850s had been sent to Brisbane from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

But the pressed plant samples were incinerated because accompanying documents were filled out incorrectly.

Australian quarantine authorities have ordered a review into the incident.

The plants were destroyed in March because of missing information such as details of the specimens, they said.

‘Highly valuable’

The French museum was upset that the “irreplaceable collection” had been destroyed, said Prof Michelle Waycott, chair of the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria.

She said the flowers may have come from a habitat that no longer existed.

“Sometimes they [collections] may be the last remaining examples of species,” she told the BBC.

“I don’t think that was the case in this instance, but they are certainly highly valuable, particularly because they were collected so long ago.”

Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which oversees biosecurity, has asked for a review.

“The department acknowledges the significant value as a botanical reference collection,” a spokesperson told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“The destruction of the specimens should not have proceeded while communication between the department and the intended recipient was ongoing.”

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