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A new tree species is named after Leonardo DiCaprio

The “dicaprio tree" is a small tropical evergreen tree with yellow flowers growing from its trunk.
Image: Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio attends the world premiere of Netflix's "Don't Look Up" on Dec. 5, 2021 in New York City.Theo Wargo / WireImage/Getty Images file

Scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the United Kingdom announced they have named a new tree species after Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

The "dicaprio tree," also known as Uvariopsis dicaprio, is a plant grown only in the Ebo Forest of Cameroon, which is widely recognized for its incredible biodiversity, according to its article published in the scientific journal, PeerJ.

“We think he was crucial in helping to stop the logging of the Ebo forest,” Dr. Martin Cheek told BBC in a recent interview.

DiCaprio, who stars in Netflix's "Don't Look Up" as a scientist, is one of the most notable environmental activists in Hollywood.

Uvariopsis dicaprio. Cauliflorous inflorescences on trunk.
Uvariopsis dicaprio. Cauliflorous inflorescences on trunk.Lorna MacKinnon

Logging refers to the process of rampant tree-cutting, which has devastating effects on the environment, including the loss of biodiversity and the emission of greenhouse gases — all of which contribute to climate change.

In July 2020, the alarm was raised for conservationists and scientists alike when the government of Cameroon issued an order that would allow industrial logging in the Ebo Forest, which is home to the Banen people and a large number of unique plants and animals.

A month later, DiCaprio shared Instagram posts to raise awareness of a petition written by international experts who urged the Cameroonian government to cancel its plan to log large swaths of the forest. The president of Cameroon later backtracked his decision.

The "dicaprio tree" is the first plant officially named by Kew researchers this year, BBC reported.

The species is a small tropical evergreen tree with yellow flowers growing from its trunk, according to PeerJ. It is also classified as critically endangered and a member of the ylang ylang family.

For any species, a scientific name is important because it allows researchers to better assess its risk of extinction, according to BBC. In 2021, Kew scientists named more than 200 plants and fungi across the world — some of which are already extinct or threatened because of the effects of climate change, the network reported.

“There are still thousands of plant species and maybe millions of fungal species out there that we don’t know about,” Cheek said.

“This natural habitat that they’re growing in — especially forests, but other habitats, too — is increasingly and more rapidly being destroyed by us humans without knowing what’s there.”