Biologists have discovered two new plants in Spain, further confirming the country’s privileged position as a hotbed of biodiversity.
Just when everyone thought that almost every plant species on the Iberian Peninsula had been identified, here comes the discovery of Taraxacum decastroi and Taraxacum lacianense – two dandelions from the Pyrenees and the Cordillera Cantabrica mountain range, respectively.
“It”s hard to find new species now in Spain. It depends on the complexity of the group of plants you study,” said Antonio Galan de Mera, lead author of the study and a researcher in the Department of Biology (Botany) at the San Pablo-CEU University in Madrid.
According to him, neither was it easy to identify the two new plants.
“We had to compare them with numerous examples from Europe (above all in Spain and Portugal), which were lent to us from the collections of other colleagues,” he said.
Taraxacum decastroi and Taraxacum lacianense are plants with long leaves and little pollen, because they reproduce by means of seeds without fertilisation.
They also have ‘fairly characteristic’ fruits with little ornamentation, ‘which differentiates them from other species in the Peninsula’, said Galan de Mera.
T. decastroi, which takes its name from the naturalist Emilio de Castro y Perez de Castro, is a plant from the Pyrenees fir forests of Lerida, while T. lacianense, first spotted by Jose Alfredo Vicente Orellana, grows in the birch woods of the Montes de Leon mountains, specifically in the area of Laciana. Both plants live in moist environments and face certain threats.
“Taraxacum lacianense lives in environments that are very vulnerable to becoming dried out. In addition, the bogland in which it grows is in the birch woods of the Montes de Leon, which are seriously threatened by open cast coal mining,” said Galan de Mera.
“In Spain, it is impossible to pinpoint the number of new plants that still remain to be discovered although genus studies can always throw up surprises,” he said.
Galan de Mera is currently studying another ‘probable’ new species in the province of Madrid related with a forest group.
The study has been published in Annales Botanici Fennici. (ANI)