New Coffee Tree Species Discovered in Honduras

Posted on October 15, 2015

Flowering branch of coffee tree Sommera cusucoana

Scienitsts have discovered a new species of coffee tree in Honduras. The new species of Rubiaceae stands 10 meters tall (33 feet) and is covered in cream-colored flowers. It is named Sommera cusucoana after the Cusoco National Park where it was discovered.

The discovery was led by Dr. Daniel Kelly and Dr. Anke Dietzsch from Trinity College, the University of Dublin. A photograph of a flowering branch of Sommera cusucoana is pictured above. The second photo shows Dr. Kelly with the tree at the moment of discovery.

Charlotte Taylor from Missouri Botanical Garden and then David Lorence from the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii helped the researchers identify the tree as a new species of coffee tree. Cusuco National Park is the only known location for the tree. Cusuco is described as a place of high biodiversity and the home to rare and unknown plant and animal species.

The authors say in a release, "Sadly, there has been extensive logging in the vicinity in recent years, and we fear for the future of our new species. According to the criteria of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), it must be regarded as Critically Endangered. We hope that the publication of this and other discoveries will help to galvanize support for the conservation of this unique and beautiful park and its denizens."

A research paper on the new species is published here in the journal, Phytokeys.

Dr. Daniel Kelly with coffee tree Sommera cusucoana


Photos: A. C. Dietzsch