New & Re-Discovered Trees


Justified & Ancient
Oct 29, 2003
New species of tree discovered

A new species of tree that is not thought to grow anywhere else in the world has been found on an island off the west coast of Scotland.

Two specimens of the newly-named Catacol whitebeam (Sorbus pseudomeincichii) were discovered by researchers on the Isle of Arran.

The tree is a cross between the native rowan and whitebeam.

The discovery followed work by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Dougarie Estate and Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens.

Graeme Walker, of SNH, said recent research into the genetics of whitebeam trees had shown that the population was much more diverse than previously thought.

"These are unique trees which are native to Arran and not found anywhere else in the world," he said.

"We knew about the Arran whitebeam and the cut-leaved Arran whitebeam, which are also crosses between rowan and different species of whitebeam, but it has been really exciting to discover a completely new species.

"It is very complex picture but we think that the Arran whitebeams are gradually evolving towards a new type of tree which will probably look very similar to a rowan."

A team from the Royal Botanic Gardens has been collecting seeds and cuttings to ensure the long-term survival of the trees.

Work is also underway to protect the two specimens on Arran.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/06/14 23:18:29 GMT



Great Old One
Aug 7, 2001
Giant palm tree puzzles botanists
Jonny Hogg
BBC News, Antananarivo

Botanists have discovered a new species of giant self-destructing palm in Madagascar which is so large that it can be seen in satellite photos.
The plant, which only exists in the remote north-west of the island, is unlike anything else ever found on the island before.

Although villagers had known about it for many years none had seen it flower.

When this finally happened last year, botanists found that the tree spent so much energy flowering that it died.


The palm is 20m high with leaves 5m long, the tallest tree of its type in the country, but for most of its life - around 100 years - it is fairly unremarkable apart from its size.

It was only when botanists from Kew Gardens in London were told of its extraordinary flowering pattern that they began to be interested.

"It's spectacular," says Mijoro Rakotoarinivo, who works with Kew and has seen the tree.

"At first there's only a very long shoot like asparagus from the top of the tree and then, a few weeks later, this unique shoot starts to destruct.

"At the end of this process you can have something like a Christmas tree."

Baffling location

The branches then become covered with hundreds of tiny flowers, which are pollinated and turn into fruit.

But the tree expends so much energy on flowering that it eventually collapses and dies.

Dr John Dransfield, who is announcing the new discovery, is baffled as to how the tree came to be in the country.

It bears a resemblance to a species of palm found in Asia but that is 6,000km away.

It is possible that the palm, which now numbers less than 100 examples, has quietly gone through a remarkable evolution since Madagascar split with India some 80m years ago.

It is now hoped that the plant will be conserved and that selling seeds can generate revenue for the people living nearby, as well as allowing gardeners across the world to own their very own self-destructing Malagasy palm tree.


Abominable Snowman
Jan 29, 2003
That's really cool and strange.
I love hearing about new plant species and cryptobotany and things like that. It's kind of unusual, well, more so than most I think


Great Old One
Aug 7, 2001
More info from the DT:

Self destructing palm tree found in Madagascar
By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 17/01/2008

A new species of palm tree which flowers spectacularly once in its long life and then dies has been discovered in Madagascar.

It is hoped that seeds can be harvested and the palm grown at botanic gardens around the world
The chance finding of the mystery palm which towers more than 60-feet high has astonished botanists.

The exact location of the small cluster of trees is being kept a secret and seeds are being carefully harvested so the palm can be grown at botanic gardens around the world to ensure its survival.

The tree has a strange lifecycle when after growing for as long as 50 years and to an immense height, the stem tip develops a giant inflorescence and bursts into branches of hundreds of tiny flowers.

Each flower is capable of being pollinated and developing into fruit and drips with nectar attracting swarms of insects and birds. But the effort of the colourful display and the production of fruit is so taxing that the nutrient reserves of the palm run dry as soon as it fruits and the entire tree collapses and dies.

The tree was found by accident by Xavier Metz, a Frenchman who manages a cashew plantation in Madagascar. He and his family were walking in a remote area in the north-west of the island when they stumbled across the giant palm and the huge pyramidal bunch of flowers sprouting out of the tip.

They had never seen anything like it before and took photographs which eventually reached Dr John Dransfield in Britain.

Dr Dransfield, one of the world's leading authorities on palms, said: "I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the images posted on the web.

"Seeing it was one of the most exciting moments in my entire career. This tree is a new genus and a new species - an evolutionary line not seen in Madagascar before. "

Dr Dransfield, co-author of The Palms of Madagascar and an Honorary Research Fellow of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, added: "There are 2,500 species of palm and only a handful flower and die. It is certainly the first self destruct palm we have found on Madagscar."

"Ever since we started work on the palms of Madagascar in the 1980s, we have made discovery after discovery - new species and new genera - but to me this is probably the most exciting of them all."

The palm will be called Tahina spectabilis which is Malagasy for blessed or to be protected. Tahina is the name of one of Xavier Metz's daughters. :)

Madagascar's native palms are of enormous economic and biological importance used for food, house building, crafts and medicines, and most are found in no other part of the world

The palm is so massive that it can even be seen in Google Earth
When material from the palm finally reached the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the details of the flowers and inflorescence suggested it was a new, undescribed species.

Leaf fragments were sent to the Jodrell laboratory at Kew for DNA analysis, where it was confirmed, that the palm was not just a new species but an entirely new genus within the palm tribe Chuniophoeniceae.

There are only three other known genera in the tribe, scattered across Arabia, Thailand and China and the palm is from an evolutionary line not previously known to exist in Madagascar and mystery surrounds how it got there.

Details of the find are published today in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, the world's oldest biological society where the tree was officially named for the first time.

The tree flowered and fruited before botanists had a chance to react but miraculously a second tree in the same area flowered last September and the fruits are due to fall this month.

Although there are known to be bigger palms the Madagscar find is believed to be the most massive with a huge trunk which towers over 60-feet high (60 feet) and fan leaves which are 16-feet in diameter - making it among the largest known in flowering plants. The palm is so massive that it can even be seen in Google Earth.

When Dr Dransfield travelled out to meet the tree's discoverers, Xavier and Nathalie Metz, it took three days travel in a 4x4 vehicle to reach the remote area where it grows.

It was concealed at the foot of a limestone outcrop in the rolling hills and flatlands of the Analalava district which is dry for eight months a year and has a mean annual temperature of 27°C. But when the rains come in January the area of deep fertile soil is flooded.

Dr Dransfield couldn't believe that the enormous palm had never been discovered before and concluded that its life-cycle must lengthy for the extremely rare flowering and death sequence to have never been detected.

He estimates the palm was between 35-50 years old when it burst into flower for the first and only time.

"We are hoping to harvest seed from the palm that will be ripened slowly in dozens of botanic gardens. They will also be sent to arboretums and schools in Madagscar. Some seeds will be sold through an agency and the profits funnelled back to the villagers," he said.

"If we are successful we can persuade the villagers that the trees have value and they will help conserve it.

"There are thousands of seeds but only a small portion will be harvested the rest will be left to fend for themselves."


Great Old One
Aug 7, 2001
A tree extinct for a thousand years...

The Jesus tree: Date palm is grown from 2,000-year-old seed
By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 11:43 AM on 13th June 2008

It's the sort of palm that wouldn't look out of place in a modern office.

But there is nothing ordinary - or modern - about this sapling.

The 5ft-tall plant was grown from a 2,000-year-old seed found at the ancient Israeli fortress of Masada.

It came from a Judean date palm tree that could have been growing in the forests between Galilee and the Dead Sea when Jesus was alive.

The discovery has astonished botanists. Previously, the most ancient seed to germinate was 1,300 years old and had been preserved in cold water.

The scientists who grew the seed said it came from a date eaten by one of the 960 Jewish rebels who occupied the Roman garrison at Masada during the great uprising against Rome.

After a three-year siege, the Jews famously committed suicide rather than surrender and become slaves.

The plant has been named Methuselah after the oldest person in the Bible, and is now in the care of Dr Sarah Sallon, a British doctor who runs the Hadassah Medical Organisation in Jerusalem.

'I think it's very exciting,' said Dr Sallon. 'I'm Jewish and the history of this place is very close to my heart. It could have been eaten by one of the inhabitants of Masada shortly before they killed themselves. The fact it comes from that period of history is very moving.'

The seed was discovered inside a jar full of the discarded pits of dates during excavations of Masada in the 1960s.

Dr Sallon - an expert in medicinal plants - soaked the seed in warm water and fertiliser three years ago before she planted it. Within eight weeks it had started to sprout.

At the time, the scientists were unwilling to risk damaging the seed by carrying out radiocarbon dating. But when the time came to transfer the sapling to a bigger pot, the researchers discover fragments of the seed's shell attached to the roots.

Tests on these, reported today in the journal Science, confirmed the sapling was around 2,000 years old - the time when the Masada was in use.

Previously, the oldest seed to produce a plant was a 1,300-year-old Chinese lotus grown in America in the 1990s.

Judean date palms - also known as 'trees of life' - once formed thick forests all along the Jordan River.

The forests were destroyed by the Romans and the Judean date palm became extinct more than 1,000 years ago.

Today, Israel imports palms. So if the sapling bears fruit, it will be first time anyone has tasted a real Judean date for more than a millennium.

However, the team will not know whether the tree is a male or female for another two years.

If the Methuselah tree is female, it could be used for cross-breeding to restore the long extinct species. Early DNA tests suggest the 2,000-year-old plant could share around half its genetic code with modern dates.

The fruit was believed to provide a natural remedy for numerous ailments, ranging from heart problems to constipation. It was also used to treat TB, gut problems, chest infections and worms.

In Roman times, Judean dates were a famous delicacy. The historian Pliny described them as large and delicious. ... -seed.html


Great Old One
Aug 7, 2001
New tree species discovered in Cheddar Gorge
Three new tree species have been discovered in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, despite centuries of scientific research in the area.
Published: 7:30AM GMT 29 Dec 2009

The fresh finds are all whitebeams – so-called because of the fine white hairs which adorn the underside of the trees’ leaves.

Although naturalists have examined the gorge’s steep limestone cliffs for many years, this was the first time a survey had been carried out specifically looking at whitebeams. Until now, the cliffs, which tower up to 400ft in places were deemed too hazardous to undertake a thorough study.

A total of eight different whitebeams were recorded in the area, including the three new species named Cheddar whitebeam, Twin cliffs whitebeam, and Gough's Rock whitebeam.

Mark Courtiour, Somerset countryside manager for the National Trust, which manages Cheddar Gorge, said: “We always wondered what whitebeam rarities might be lurking in the gorge as it’s such a stunning place for wildlife.

“This important survey work will help with our management of the site now we know what we have and where they can be found.”

Scientists took samples from the trees and used DNA techniques to identify them as new species. GPS technology was also used to record the precise locations of these rarities, helping to relocate them in the future.

Cheddar is a nationally important site for whitebeams along with other locations such as the Avon Gorge in Bristol, the Wye Valley, Craig-y-Cilau in the Brecon Beacons and the north Devon-Somerset coast.

Two other National Trust sites – Watersmeet in north Devon and Leigh Woods in Bristol – were also found to be whitebeam hot spots including species unique to those sites.

Whitebeams belong to the Sorbus family, a relative of apples and pears, and there are now over 30 known species in Britain.

The name is derived from the old English ‘beam’ meaning tree and they have small red fruits that look like miniature apples.

etc... ... Gorge.html


Aug 26, 2005
Thirty species of whitebeam? Blimey.

We have whitebeams down our street - they have big papery leaves that get everywhere in autumn, but the recent cold weather has reduced the leaves to mush. I didn't realise they were related to apples.


Great Old One
Aug 7, 2001
One of rarest flowers in world blooms for first time in 200 years
One of the rarest flowers in the world which is now extinct in the wild has been successfully grown in a part of Britain where it disappeared 200 years ago.
Published: 6:25AM BST 08 Sep 2010

The Franklinia alatamaha – known as the Franklin tree – has large fragrant, cup-shaped, snow-white blooms and is part of the tea family.

It was first discovered in 1765 by Philadelphia botanists John and William Bartram who named it after close friend Benjamin Franklin.

They found the Franklin tree on the banks of the Altamaha River in Georgia, USA, but it has been extinct in the wild since 1800s.

The plant is now only found in a handful of places on the planet but has now been cultivated at the Trewithen Estate nursery near Truro, Cornwall.

A specimen was brought back to the nursery in 18th Century but soon disappeared and was feared lost forever.

But staff say three shrubs have now flowered and they expect another ten to flower next year.

Nursery manager Luke Hazelton said: ''It is such a rare shrub and extinct in the wild. To see it flower in this country is of great interest to plant lovers.

''I've talked to plant experts at the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, and they're surprised and excited as we are, especially as it's flowering earlier than expected.''

The tree, which can withstand freezing temperatures but prefers warm weather, can grow up to 10m tall but more commonly reaches between 4.5m and 7.5m.

It has oblong, succulent leaves and flowers abundantly in native North America from midsummer until early autumn.

A spokesman for the Royal Botanical Gardens said the plant is very difficult to grow and is ''extremely rare'' in Britain.

He said: ''The plant is very delicate and usually only stands a chance if it is kept in a greenhouse.

''However in Cornwall, the environment would make it possible to grow outside.

''These plants are very rare especially in Britain so it is great news to hear that a nursery has been able to make it flower and seed.'' ... years.html


Great Old One
Aug 7, 2001
I guess this fits here:

Earth's trees number 'three trillion'
By Jonathan Amos BBC Science Correspondent

There are just over three trillion trees on Earth, according to a new assessment.
The figure is eight times as big as the previous best estimate, which counted perhaps 400 billion at most.
It has been produced by Thomas Crowther from Yale University, and colleagues, who combined a mass of ground survey data with satellite pictures.

The team tells the journal Nature that the new total represents upwards of 420 trees for every person on the planet.
The more refined number will now form a baseline for a wide range of research applications - everything from studies that consider animal and plant habitats for biodiversity reasons, to new models of the climate, because it is trees of course that play an important role in removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

But Dr Crowther cautioned that the higher number did not of itself change anything.
He told the BBC's Science In Action programme: "It's not like we've discovered a load of new trees; it's not like we've discovered a load of new carbon.
"So, it's not good news for the world or bad news that we've produced this new number.
"We're simply describing the state of the global forest system in numbers that people can understand and that scientists can use, and that environmental practitioners or policymakers can understand and use."

Key to the new estimate is the greater use of ground-truth data. The team collected tree density information from over 400,000 forest plots around the world.

This included many national forest inventories and a host of peer-reviewed studies where workers had actually gone out and counted the number of trunks in a given area and in a given forest type.
This then enabled Dr Crowther and his group to build a model that better characterised what they were seeing in satellite pictures, which are very good at showing forest extent but are not so good at revealing just how many individual trees are standing below the canopy.

Of their approximately 3,040,000,000,000 trees, the scientists put most (1.39 trillion) in the tropics and sub-tropics, 0.61 trillion in temperate regions, and 0.74 trillion in the boreal forests - that great band of conifers that circles the globe just below the Arctic.
Indeed, it is in the boreal forests that they say the greatest densities are seen.

What is abundantly clear from the study is the influence humans now have on the number of trees on Earth. The team estimates we are removing about 15 billion a year, with perhaps only five billion being planted back.
"The net loss is about a third of a percent of the current number of trees globally," said co-author Dr Henry Glick.
"That doesn't seem to be an insignificant portion and should probably give us cause for considering the role that deforestation is playing in changing ecosystems.
"And where tree losses are often tied to timber supplies and land-use conversion for agriculture, as the global human population grows, we may see the net loss increase as well."