New plants in the Caldera

arrot's Beak (Lotus pyranthus) in flower
arrot’s Beak (Lotus pyranthus) in flower

La Palma is very popular with botanists, because there are hundreds of species of plants which grow wild only on La Palma.

When three employees of the Caldera National Park went to do a survey on the north slope of Bejenado in the Caldera, the got four nice surprises. The first three are in the Rock Rose family.

  • Helianthemum broussonetii is a bush with white flowers which grows around Los Sauces. It was a complete surprise to find it
    in the park.
  • Helianthemum cirae or Helianthemum sp1 is a relative. They were particularly pleased to find this one, because all the Helianthemum cirae plants in their nursery came from one bush, which means that the genetic diversity was extremely low. Now they have another 100!
  • Helianthemum sp 2 is such a new discovery that it doesn’t even have a name yet. A few individuals have been found around Los Sauces, but I gather they’re really plasesed to have another 15.
  • Lotus pyranthus or pico de fuego (Parrot’s Beak) is on the red list of endangered plants.There are several examples in protective custody which are certainly surviving, but it’s not yet known whether they’re reproducing. One got killed by a fire, and it was thought that there were only three left. A fourth is very welcome.

Four plants in the world gives a whole new idea of “rare” doesn’t it?

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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