Voice of the Cape

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UCT student rediscovers “extinct” plant

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After it was believed to be extinct since the 1800’s, one of the Western Cape’s endemic species has been rediscovered by a student from the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Psoralea cataracta is one of the first recorded species lost to forestry and agriculture and originates from the pea family. It would most commonly grow next to mountain streams in Tulbagh.

It is a sub-species of fountain bush.

PhD botany student from UCT, Brian du Preez accidentally stumbled on a small population of the “extinct” plant while walking along a narrow track close to a river on a farm in the Tulbagh area.

Before this discovery, the last known specimen of P. cataracta was collected from a waterfall in Tulbagh in 1804. Following a number of unsuccessful search missions to find the plant after that, it was officially declared extinct and added to the Red Data List of South African Plants.

Du Preez was a volunteer with the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) to search for the elusive plant and when he came across it in Tulbagh he knew exactly what he had found.

Internationally recognized specialist on the genus of Psoralea from the United Kingdom has since confirmed the species’ rediscovery.

This is not the first time du Preez has made such a discovery, having found two other extinct species, also from the pea family, Polhillia ignota and Aspalathus cordicarpa that were last seen some 69 or more years ago.

Du Preez is a truly passionate student and blooming botanist and we can’t wait to see what he discovers next.

Pictures: Facebook/Brian du Preez

(SOURCE: CAPE TOWN ETC)


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