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Uploaded on Jul 30, 2008
The Shovel-headed Garden Worm, Bipalium kewense, was first discovered in the hothouses of the famous Kew Gardens in England (its scientific name means 'plate-headed worm from Kew'). It was formally described in 1878. Shovel-headed Garden Worms belong to the Phylum Platyhelminthes, a large phylum of worms known as flatworms because of their flattened bodies. Many flatworms are parasitic, but the Shovel-headed Garden Worm is a free-living terrestrial species.
As early as 1899, the Shovel-headed Garden Worm was thought to have a cosmopolitan distribution, supposedly transported to other parts of the world from England and becoming established in a similar way to the common garden snail of Europe. It now seems more likely that the Shovel-headed Garden Worm originated somewhere in Indo-China; its natural range extends from Vietnam to Kampuchea, possibly extending to Malaysia. It was probably sent to the Kew Gardens from its place of origin in a shipment of plants. They are now distributed widely as a result of horticultural practices, being dispersed in potted plants. From pot-plants, they can readily move into the adjacent environment if the habitat is suitably moist and humid. They are very common in the bush around Sydney.