Near Extinct Plant Rediscovered in Geometric Tortoise Preserve

PHOTO BY DOUGLAS EUSTON-BROWN

PHOTO BY DOUGLAS EUSTON-BROWN

Scientists recently discovered that the Geometric Tortoise Preserve in South Africa holds one of the only known populations of a rare plant species. Asphalathus amoeni is categorized as ‘near extinct’. However, on a recent survey Douglas Euston-Brown from the South Africa Program of the Turtle Conservancy re-discovered the plant growing in the preserve.

Three years ago, the entire known world population of the plant was 7 individuals. Euston-Brown's latest survey on the Geometric Tortoise Preserve uncovered a population of over 50 plants.

Asphalanthus amoeni is one of many rare plants found in the Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos, a critically endangered vegetation area endemic to the region around Cape Town and the preserve. This unique vegetation is part of the greater Cape Floristic Region. Encompassing the Western Cape of South Africa, the Cape Floristic Region is an area of extraordinarily high diversity and endemism, home to over 9,000 vascular plant species, many of which are endemic and found nowhere else in the world.

Max Maurer

Turtle Conservancy, 49 Bleecker Street, Suite 601, New York, NY, 10012, United States