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Tasmania home to first alpine sword-sedge
Date:11/15/2013

Researchers from the University of New England (Australia) and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney (Australia), have discovered a high-altitude species of sedge from south-western Tasmania. A small clumping plant, Lepidosperma monticola grows on mountains including Mount Field and Mount Sprent. It is unique in the genus in being the only species essentially restricted to alpine vegetation. At less than seven centimetres tall, this Tasmanian endemic is also the smallest known species of Lepidosperma.

Mr George Plunkett and Prof. Jeremy Bruhl (University of New England), and Assoc. Prof. Karen Wilson (Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney) described this new species in the open access journal PhytoKeys.

Mr Plunkett, who is undertaking a PhD on Lepidosperma, first discovered the new species amongst herbarium specimens on loan to the N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium from the Tasmanian Herbarium. A field trip to Tasmania to collect additional material, observe the species in the wild and examine relevant collections at the Tasmanian Herbarium provided further evidence supporting the recognition of Lepidosperma monticola as a new species. Analysing the morphological and anatomical attributes of the plants demonstrated conclusively that L. monticola is a distinct species in need of formal recognition.

Species of the genus Lepidosperma, commonly known as sword-sedges, mostly have elongate, flattened leaves that are shaped like a double-edged sword. Many also possess sharp, cutting leaf margins, alluding to this common name. The genus with more than 100 species is widespread a
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Contact: Mr. George T. Plunkett
gplunket@myune.edu.au
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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