Two New Blue-Flowered Plant Species Discovered in South Africa

Posted on March 21, 2015

Flowers of Psoralea vanberkelae

Two new plant species have been discovered in South Africa. The blue-flowered legumes were discovered in the Cape Floral Kingdom, a species rich area of the Southern Cape in South Africa. The plants were discovered by a citizen science group called the Outramps.

The Outramps are part of a citizen science group called C.R.E.W., which stands for Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers. It is run by the South African Biodiversity Institute. These volunteers help monitor and conserve South Africa's threatened plants.

The Outramps are lead by Dianne Turner. The group discovered the two beautiful blue-flowered legumes and sent specimens to Abubakar Bello, a Ph.D. student at the University of Cape Town and one of his supervisors Prof. Charles Stirton. After a field trip with their colleague, Prof. Muthama Muasya, the plants were identified as new members of the legume genus Psoralea.

One of the new species, Psoralea diturnerae, was named after the group leader Dianne and the second species, Psoralea vanberkelae, is named after the group photographer Nicky van Berkel. The flowers of Psoralea vanberkelae are pictured above.

Prof. Stirton says, "Without the persistence and enthusiasm of the Outrampers, we would never have picked up these species in our studies as they were in areas we would not have accessed in our planned field trips. It is not uncommon for highly localised species to be overlooked by monographers."

A research paper on the newly discovered plants can be found here in the journal, PhytoKeys.

Photo: Nicky van Berkel