The South American wild flower ‘extinctus’ has been rediscovered.

The South American wild flower, called

The orange blossoms of the Ecuadorian forest Gasteranthus extinctus, believed to be long gone, illuminate the bottom of the forest as if begging to be seen. Found: Riley Fortier.

Scientific names are chosen for many reasons — they can honor an important person, or they can describe what a person looks like and where he or she comes from. For the wild flower first described by scientists in the year 2000, the scientific name “extinctus” is a word of advice. The wild orange blossom was found 15 years ago in an Ecuadorian forest that has been largely destroyed since then; The scientists who called him at the time they called him thought it was over. But on a new paper inside About PhytoKeysresearchers report that Gasteranthus extinctus first appeared in the 40s.

“Extinctus has been given its notable name because of the amount of deforestation in western Ecuador,” said Dawson White, a postdoctoral researcher at Chicago’s Field Museum and lead author of the paper. “But if you say something is gone, then no one goes out to look for it.”

The new plant is a small forest floor seating area with neon-orange flowers. “The genus name, Gasteranthus, is Greek for ‘belly flower.’ They have a big bag of flowers on the bottom with a small hole that pollinators can get in and out, ”White said.

G. extinctus can be seen at the foot of the Andes Mountains, where the land is spread out in a plane covered with a rainforest. The land, called Centinela Ridge, is famous among the biodiversity for home to an independent group of plants that disappeared when its forests were almost destroyed in the 1980s. EO Wilson was the last living thing to explain how life became extinct when their small habitat was destroyed by the “Centinelan extinction.”

The South American wild flower, called

Part of the group that recently discovered Gasteranthus extinctus traveled to cliff valleys in the forests of Ecuador’s coastline in search of common plants. From left: Washington Santillan, Sr. Hermogenes, Alix Lozinguez, and Nicolás Zapata. Found: Thomas LP Couvruer.

Centinela’s story is a wake -up call to the fact that over 97% of the forests in the western part of Ecuador have been cut down and converted to agricultural land. What remains is a beautiful mosaic of small islands of the forest in a sea of ​​bananas and a handful of other plants.

“Centinela is a memorial place for tropical botanists,” Pitman said. “But, as explained by the seniors of the school, no one has a double knowledge of science. No one has come back to confirm that the forest is gone and those things are gone.”

But when Gasteranthus extinctus was first identified in 2000, scientists first reported that Centinelan was not completely extinct. Since 2009, some scientists have gone on a mission to find G. But when the Field Museum received money from the Women’s Board of the Field Museum for a visit to Centenary Ridge, it was found. to White and Pitman a chance to look for themselves.

The South American wild flower, called

The team prints and maintains the samples collected during the day. Found: Riley Fortier.

Beginning in the summer of 2021, they began to put together satellite images trying to see how much of the rain had remained intact (which was difficult, White recalls, because most of the rain was covered. pictures of the land in the clouds). They had several contestants and brought together a team of botanists from six different offices in Ecuador, US, and France, including Juan Guevara, Thomas Couvreur, Nicolás Zapata, Xavier Cornejo, and Gonzalo. Rivas. In November of 2021, they arrived in Centinela.

“This was my first time planning a trip where we weren’t sure how to get into the woods,” Pitman said. “But when we got to land, we saw the rest of the rainforest, and we saw G. extinctus on the first day, within two hours of the search. There were only pictures. of all the dried herbarium types, a line drawing, and a written description, but we’re pretty sure we got it because of its small hairs and “pot-bellied” display flowers.

Pitman recalls the different feelings the team had in search of the flower. “We were very happy, but it was a real killer to our happiness – we thought,‘ Is it really that easy? ’” He said. “We knew we needed to look with a professional.”

The South American wild flower, called

It is believed long ago that Gasteranthus extinctus was seen growing near a waterfall in Bosque y Cascada Las Rocas, an independent conservation area off the coast of Ecuador that has a large number of dead plants. Found: Riley Fortier

The researchers took the photos and collected some of the fallen flowers, not wanting to damage the plants if they were the only ones left on Earth. They sent the photos to taxman John Clark, who confirmed, yes, the flowers of G. extinctus are not extinct. Fortunately, the group found more people as they visited other forest areas, and they gathered evidence to confirm the knowledge and leaves to look at. DNA. The team was able to verify some of the unseen images posted on the social science program iNaturalist, namely G. extinctus.

The plant will keep its name, says Pitman, because the code of nomenclature of biology has specific rules about how the body changes, and the regeneration of the plant is not cut off. G. extinctus.

While the flower continues to suffer, the trip has seen many reasons for hope, researchers say.

The South American wild flower, called

Part of the group left the school for the day with bags full of rare plants, surrounded by Centenelan’s traditional land of tall trees, tree remnants scattered on the fence and Agricultural land. Found: Dawson White.

“We went into the movie theater with the feeling that our hearts were going to break, and after that love,” Pitman said. “It’s good to find G. extinctus, but what’s even more exciting is to find an amazing forest where scientists fear everything is gone.”

The team is working with Ecuadorian conservationists to protect some of the remaining areas where G. extinctus lives and the rest of the beautiful Centinelan flowers. “The re -discovery of this flower shows that the search for the worst biological features is not slow, and shows the value of taking care of the smallest and most dangerous areas,” he said. said White. “It’s important evidence that the search for and enumeration of plants and animals in the degraded forests of western Ecuador has not been slow…”


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More information:
Recent findings of Gasteranthus extinctus LESkog & LPKvist (Gesneriaceae) in several locations in western Ecuador., About PhytoKeys (2022). DOI: 10.3897 / phytokeys.194.79638

Directions: Extinctus (2022, April 15) Retrieved 15 April 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022 -04-lost-south-american-wildflower-extinctus. html

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