Thursday 7 December 2017

Bituminaria antiatlantica: A new species of Pitch Trefoil from Morocco.

Pitch Trefoils, Bituminaria spp., are herbacious Legumes found around the Mediterranean Basin and Macronesian Islands (the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands). They are distinguished by their trefoliate leaves (leaves in three parts), pea-like seeds and bituminous odour. These plants are found in a variety of habitats, though all are tolerant of poor environmental conditions, with species found in swamps, on cliff faces, and in arid zones.

In a paper published in the journal PhytoKeys on 31 August 2017, Salvatore Brullo, Cristian Brullo, Salvatore Cambria, Antonia Cristaudo, and Gianpietro Giusso del Galdo of the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Catania describe a new species of Pitch Trefoil from the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

The new species is named Bituminaria antiatlantica, in reference to the area where it was discovered. It is a perennial herb reaching about 60 cm in height with dark green leaves and stems and whitish pink flowers. It was found growing on steep north-facing quartzite slopes at altitudes of between 300 and 1500 m above sealevel.

Bituminaria antiatlantica, growing in its natural habitat. Salvatore Cambria in Brullo et al. (2017).

The species was found growing only at two locations, on Mount Tachilla and Djebel Imzi, with all known specimens growing within an area of less than 2000 km². For this reason the species is considered to be Vulnerable under the terms of the  International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of  Threatened Species.

See also...
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.