Just when everyone thought that almost every plant species on the Iberian Peninsula had been discovered, Spanish researchers have discovered Taraxacum decastroi and Taraxacum lacianense, two dandelions from the Pyrenees and the Cordillera Cantbrica mountain range, respectively. This finding confirms Spain's privileged position as a hotbed of biodiversity.
"It's hard to find new species now in Spain. It depends on the complexity of the group of plants you study", Antonio Galn de Mera, lead author of the study and a researcher in the Department of Biology (Botany) at the San Pablo-CEU University in Madrid, tells SINC.
According to the study, which has been published in Annales Botanici Fennici, it has been no easy task to identify these two new plants. "We had to compare them with numerous examples from Europe (above all in Spain and Portugal), which were lent to us from the collections of other colleagues", says Galn de Mera.
Taraxacum decastroi and Taraxacum lacianense are plants with long leaves and little pollen, because they reproduce by means of seeds without fertilisation. They also have "fairly characteristic" fruits with little ornamentation, "which differentiates them from other species in the Peninsula", the scientist adds.
T. decastroi, which takes its name from the naturalist Emilio de Castro y Prez de Castro, is a plant from the Pyrenees fir forests of Lrida, while T. lacianense, first spotted by Jos Alfredo Vicente Orellana, grows in the birch woods of the Montes de Len mountains, specifically in the area of Laciana. Both plants live in moist environments and face certain threats.
"Taraxacum lacianense lives in environments that are very vulnerable to becoming dried out. In addition, the bogland in which it grows is in the birch woods of the Montes de Len, which are seriously threatened by open cast coal mining", the biologist explains.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology