The new plant, Psoralea vanberkela, with a unique purple and white flower, will be on display for the first time this week at the annual Cape Floral Kingdom Expo in Bredasdorp, in the Overberg region of the Western Cape.
The new rare species of Fynbos has been discovered near Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape, the Robberg Coastal Corridor Landowners’ Association announced on Tuesday.
It was found on a 16km strip of land between Robberg and Harkerville, association chairman Chris von Christierson said.
“This rare and previously undescribed species of the family Fabaceae is an exciting find and further entrenches the Robberg Coastal Corridor as home to several uncommon and unique plant species,” Von Christierson said.
The plant was discovered by Nicky van Berkel, a member of Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (Crew), which is a project of the SA National Biodiversity Institute.
The discovery was confirmed by UK-based Professor Charles Stirton, an honorary research associate at the University of Cape Town’s botany department, who visited the site to study the plant.
Von Christierson, who viewed the plant in the veld on Sunday, said it had begun to flower, and was expected to be in full bloom when displayed at the expo from Thursday.
The expo would focus on conservation, cultivation, trade, and lifestyle options with wildflowers from the Cape Floral Kingdom where some 1000 botanical species would be on display.
The discovery of a new Fynbos species was significant because of the threat of extinction.
“Some 1700 species of plants in the Western Cape are currently threatened with extinction,” said Gavin Maneveldt of the department of biodiversity and conservation biology at the University of the Western Cape and Cape Nature in a preface to the expo.
“This equates to 68 percent of South Africa’s threatened plants. Of the known plant extinctions from South Africa, more than half have been from the Western Cape.”
Von Christierson said his association had been campaigning to have the area where the Psoralea vanberkela grew declared a protected environment.