Home News New plant discovered at Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

New plant discovered at Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

576
SHARE

A new plant that belongs to the sunflower family has been discovered at the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape.

“The find is creating excitement in the botanical world. The genus Othonna is endemic to Southern Africa, and belongs to the sunflower family Asteraceae with about 120 species. The name is derived from the Greek word ‘othone’, which is a ‘linen cloth’ or ‘napkin’, and was given due to some of the first described species, having a downy covering.” Pictures: Supplied

A new plant that belongs to the sunflower family has been discovered at the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape.

South African National Parks (SANParks) arid region communications manager Genevieve Maasdorp said the plant was discovered by SANParks employee, Pieter van Wyk a nursery curator at Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

“The find is creating excitement in the botanical world. The genus Othonna is endemic to Southern Africa, and belongs to the sunflower family Asteraceae with about 120 species. The name is derived from the Greek word ‘othone’, which is a ‘linen cloth’ or ‘napkin’, and was given due to some of the first described species, having a downy covering.”

Maasdorp said the plant had ray florets and cylindrical succulent leaves.

“The size of the plant and extreme rarity makes it one of the largest discoveries in decades within the Northern Cape Province as well as the Arid Parks of South African National Park.

“Within the Richtersveld bio region about 25 know species are found, including the discovery of the largest species in the region, on September 25.”

She added that the Richtersveld bio region was very unique as it is home to one of earth’s most diverse geological and desert flores including the succulent Karoo biome, desert biome and Nama Karoo biome and over 400 species of endemic plant taxa.

“In 2015 the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) together with South African National Parks (SANParks) did a first upgrading of endemic plant taxa from this region, which was published on the South African red list of endangered species.

“Due to the region’s rich desert fauna and amp; flora, sections have been proclaimed as national parks and conservancies.”

Maasdorp indicated that photographs of the new species have been forwarded to Luvo Magoswana a research Scientist, Biosystematics and Collections, SANBI, Compton Herbarium, Kirstenbosch research centre, for phylogenetic study on the genus Othonna to confirm the discovery.

“Magoswana confirmed the species is new, and said it is a ‘novelty’ discovery.”