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Meet the "extinct species" that have just been rediscovered after 200 years



  Psoralea Cataracta is a type of fountain shrub

The delicate colored and filamentous stems of Psoralea cataracta, a type of fountain shrub that occurs only near mountain streams in the Tulbag region of the Western Cape, last observed in 1

804 Credit: Brian du Prize

Last seen in 1804, psoriasis cataract was rediscovered by Brian du Prize, Ph.D. a botanical student at the University of Cape Town when he accidentally encountered a population on a narrow runway near a river at a farm near Tulbag.

One of the first recorded species lost to forestry and agriculture in the Western Cape in 1800, a species of fountain shrub from the pea family that grows to mountain streams in the Tulbag area has been rediscovered.

Psoralea cataracta was discovered by Brian du Prize, a medical doctor in botany when he accidentally encountered a population on a narrow path near a river at a farm near Tulbag.

So far, P. cataract was known only by one copy collected from Tulbash Falls in 1804, and in 2008, after many fruitless searches, it was officially declared missing. in the Red List of Plant Data in South Africa.

  Closure of the delicate colored and carved colored stems of Psoralea Cataracta

Delicate colored and filamentous colored stems of Psoralea cataracta, a type of fountain shrub that occurs only near mountain streams in the west of Tulnibal Observed in 1804 Credit: Brian du Prize

From previous search efforts as a volunteer with the Trustees of Rare and Endangered Wild Flowers (CREW) around Tulbag Falls, he immediately realized what the find was: "As soon as I saw these delicate flowers stems like thread, I knew it was Psoralea Cataracts .

Prof. Charles Stirton, an internationally recognized specialist in the genus Psoralea based in e the United Kingdom and his co-supervisor, confirmed that this was indeed the rediscovering long-lost species, last seen in 1804

features are remarkable horses, very long filamentous stems and unique flower color. This is a very important find because it shows how the Cape is still relatively unexplored in many mountain areas. Given that many of Cape Flora appear only briefly after fires that fade quickly and sometimes these fires are irregular, the chance of being in an area at the right time is low. Bravo to Brian for a wonderful find, ”he wrote in an email from the UK.

  Botanical student Brian Du Prize with Psoraleas Cataract

Last seen in 1804, Cataract Psarale was rediscovered by Brian du Prize, Associate Professor Ph.D. a botanical student at the University of Cape Town when she accidentally came across a population on a narrow runway near a river at a farm near Tulbag in Western Cape. Credit: Wiida Fourie, University of Stellenbosch

Mr Ismail Ebrahim, Project Manager at CREW, agrees that this is an exceptional finding: “It is really unusual to find a properly extinct species, something that cannot be seen by for centuries. And with Cape Flora, it's even more difficult, as most species are limited to a really small patch, and it's easy to miss them if you don't go down the beaten path.

"Besides, it just shows you the value of a proper field botany like they used to do in the old days," he adds.

So far, the 26-year-old student has built up quite a reputation for finding long-lost species. As a BScHons student in botany at Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2016, he rediscovered two suspected extinct species in the pea family, Polhillia ignota and Aspalathus cordicarpa last , respectively in the 1950s and subsequently completed a Masters degree in Polchilia in 2017, also at Sofia University.

This year he collected a new species Aspalat growing on sand dunes along the banks of the River Rith in the Swartruggens Mountains north of Ceres. He is now in a hurry to describe the species, as this part of the Rit River is intended to expand orchards.

"We can only retain what we have described. Only species that are formally described can receive Red List status, which by law then protects it from development, depending on its conservation status, "he warns.

For this reason, Brian decided to tackle the revision of the genus Indigofera in the Greater Cape Floral Region (GCFR) for his doctor. This diverse genus includes over 100 species in the region, with at least 30 new species to be officially described.

He has covered thousands of miles in his Nissan cookies – from Richterswald to the Eastern Cape – and everything in between for the last six months and has already collected over 60 species Indigofera .

For botanists, the period from September to November each year is when most plants are in flowers. So next week he embarks on a three-week field trip to the Garden Road and the Eastern Cape.


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