A sweet pea plant with a unique purple flower that was thought to have died out more than 200 years ago is found in South Africa.
The beautiful fountain bush was noticed by a student botanist with sharp eyes during an expedition to the mountain-bordered wine countries of the Western Cape.
Called Psoralea cataracta, it has delicate petals and thread-like stems. It had not been seen since 1804 until Brian du Preez accidentally met a population.
It was on a narrow path close to a river on a farm near the quaint village of Tulbagh, which is enclosed on three sides.
The survival of the long-lost species was confirmed by Professor Charles Stirton, former director of the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
The delicate flower and thread-like flower stalks of Psoralea cataracta, a type of fountain shrub that occurs only near mountain streams in the Tulbagh area of the Western Cape, last seen in 1804.
He said, "This is a very important find because it shows how the Cape is still relatively unexplored in many mountainous areas."
Sweet peas are among the most popular plants in the UK. Their combination of butterfly wing colors and wonderful scent captures the very best of a British summer in one flower.
Psoralea cataracta was one of the first registered plants that was lost in forestry and agriculture in the Western Cape in the 19th century. It only occurs alongside mountain streams in the region.
It was known from a single specimen collected from & # 39; Tulbagh waterfall & # 39; at the beginning of the 19th century.
In 2008, after many fruitless searches, it was officially declared extinct on the Red Data List of South African plants.
Mr. du Preez, 26, immediately recognized it as a volunteer at CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) around the waterfall.
He said, "As soon as I saw those delicate thread-like flower stalks, I knew it was Psoralea cataracta."
Psoralea cataracta was last seen in 1804 and was rediscovered by Brian du Preez, a Ph.D. student of botany at the University of Cape Town, when he accidentally met a population on a narrow path close to a river on a farm near Tulbagh in the Western Cape.
Prof Stirton said the definitive features are the remarkable leaves, very long stems and the "unique flower color".
He said: "Given that much of the Cape flora only appeared shortly after a fire and faded quickly, and that these fires are sometimes irregular, chances are low to be in the area at the right time. Well done Brian for a beautiful find."
Ismail Ebrahim, project manager at CREW, agrees that it is a groundbreaking discovery.
He said: "It is really unusual to find a fairly extinct species, something that has not been seen for centuries.
"And with Cape Flora it is even harder, because most species are limited to a very small piece and it is easy to miss them if you do not go off the beaten track.
"It also simply shows you the value of good field botany, as it used to be."
It was found on a narrow path close to a river on a farm near the picturesque village of Tulbagh on the Western Cape of South Africa
Mr. du Preez has built a reputation. When he rediscovered two suspected extinct species in the pea family in 2016 at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Polhillia ignota and Aspalathus cordicarpa, were last seen in 1928 and the 1950s, respectively.
This year he collected a new species of Aspalathus growing on sand dunes on the banks of the Reed River in the Swartruggens Mountains north of Ceres.
He is now in a hurry to get the described species, because this part of the Riet River is intended for expansion of the orchard.
Mr. du Preez warned: "We can only keep what we have described. Only species that have been formally described can get a Red Data List status, which then legally protects them against development, depending on the conservation status."
For this reason, he has decided to tackle a revision of the Indigofera genus in the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) for his doctorate.
This diverse genus includes more than 100 species in the region, with at least 30 new species being formally described.
He has traveled thousands of miles in his Nissan branch – from the Richtersveld to the Eastern Cape, and everything in between over the past six months, and has already collected more than 60 Indigofera species.
For botanists, the period from September to November is every year when most plants are in bloom.
So next week he leaves for a three-week excursion to the Garden Route and the Eastern Cape.
Sweet peas were unknown in the UK until 1699, when a monk in Sicily named Franciscus Cupani sent seeds of Lathyrus odoratus to the famous Enfield horticulturist Dr. Uvedale.
It was probably the magenta and purple bicolor that now & # 39; Cupani & # 39; is called. There are thousands of species.
WHAT SPEAKS FOR THE LOT OF PLANET PLANTS AND ANIMALS?
Nature now has more problems than ever before in human history, with extinction looming over a million species of plants and animals, experts say.
That is the most important finding of the first comprehensive United Nations report on biodiversity – the diversity of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat.
The report – published on May 6, 2019 – says that species are lost dozens or hundreds of times faster than in the past.
Many of the worst effects can be prevented by changing the way we grow food, produce energy, deal with climate change and throw away waste, the report said.
The 39-page summary of the report highlighted five ways in which people reduce biodiversity:
– Forests, grasslands and other areas turn into farms, cities and other developments. The loss of habitat makes plants and animals homeless. Approximately three-quarters of the Earth's land, two-thirds of the oceans and 85% of the crucial wetlands have been severely altered or lost, making species more difficult to survive, the report said.
– Overfishing of the world's oceans. A third of the world's fish stocks are overfished.
– Allowing climate change by burning fossil fuels to make it too hot, wet or dry for some species to survive. Almost half of the land mammals in the world – excluding bats – and nearly a quarter of the birds have already hit their habitats hard by global warming.
– Polluting land and water. Every year, 300 to 400 million tonnes of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge are dumped into the world's waters.
– Allowing invasive species to displace native plants and animals. The number of invasive alien species per country has risen by 70 percent since 1970, with one species of bacteria threatening nearly 400 species of amphibians.
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