Over 140 new plant species discovered by Kew Gardens scientists in 2015


This 5 June 2015 video from England says about itself:

Carlos Magdalena, Kew Gardens – People of London

22 January 2015

There are thousands of species at Kew; here are a few important ones …. Kew Gardens‘ Carlos Magdalena.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Why this year’s bumper harvest of new plant species has exciting implications

More than 140 species new to science were uncovered by researchers at Kew Gardens in 2015

Lewis Smith

Sunday 27 December 2015

A three-metre orchid, a 45-metre tree and 25 types of acanthus were among the new species of plants and fungi discovered in the past year by Kew scientists. More than 140 species new to science were uncovered by researchers at the botanic gardens in 2015, twice as many as the previous year, raising hopes that new types of medicines, essential oils and crops will be developed.

The discoveries were made across the world as botanists sought to catalogue and study unknown plants and fungi, and to determine their chemical properties. Among the most exciting are 22 new species of trees and shrubs in the myrtle family. They were identified in Brazil’s coastal rainforest, and have potential for use in medicines, perhaps as antiseptics or diuretics, and by the aromatherapy industry.

Several of the finds have potential uses in agriculture, including a type of sweet potato found in Bolivia. It was one of 18 new species belonging to the Ipomoea family – familiar to British gardeners as morning glory. The new sweet potato is unlikely to be grown as a crop in its own right, but it could be cross-bred with the commercial species to create new varieties that might be more disease-resistant or able to grow in drier or wetter areas. Specific genes might also be transferred to create genetically modified strains.

Other discoveries likely to interest commercial growers include five that are relatives of the custard apple, or sugar apple, and ylang-ylang, another important source of essential oils; these were unearthed in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The largest and heaviest discovery of the year was a tree, Gilbertiodendron maximum, which grows 45m high and has a 1.4m-diameter trunk. It grows only in Gabon and was one of eight rainforest giants located in the Cameroon-Congolian region.

Six new orchids were described by Kew researchers, including a 3-metre slipper orchid, Selenipedium dodsonii, from Ecuador. It was identified from a specimen taken from the wild decades ago and stored unnoticed in a US herbarium.

Five new species of toadstool, discovered in Europe and North America, are believed to play a vital role in the survival of some conifer forests by supplying nutrients in return for carbohydrates.

Researchers identified 25 new acanthuses, more than any other family of plants this year, while in Mozambique a small patch of land described by botanists as “highly threatened” by a French petroleum company yielded an astonishing 36 previously unknown species.

Dr Martin Cheek, a senior scientist at Kew, said finding new plants is vital. “They could be important to our survival. If we wipe them out they aren’t going to be of any help.”

Lion’s mane mushroom, fungus of the year 2016


This is a lion’s mane mushroom video.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

30 December 2015 – The lion’s mane mushroom has not been in vain chosen as mushroom of the year 2016. Lion’s mane fungi are mainly found in forests where old trees and trunks are tolerated. Because of its colour, size and shape, the lion’s mane mushroom is one of the most outstanding representatives of this type of forests. An ideal ambassador of monumental beech forests where trunks and ancient trees are available.

Four earthstar fungi species discovered in the Netherlands


Weather earthstars, photo by Piet Brouwer

The Dutch Mycological society reports today (translated):

Christmas 2015: Splendid stars seen at Jagersplas

23 Dec 2015 – The Dutch dune area has a reputation when it comes to earthstars living there. Although it is not easy to find earthstars because of their inconspicuous colours make the sand dunes the most likely place. The discovery of four rare earthstar species beyond the dunes near the recreation lake Jagersplas in Zaandam initially caused quite a bit of disbelief.

Earthstar paradise

During a mushroom survey in recreation area Jagersplas in Zaandam a week ago a surprising amount of earthstars were were found. After identification they turned out to be the rosy earthstar (Geastrum rufescens, Red List: Endangered), the weather earthstar (Geastrum corollinum, Red List: Endangered), the rounded earthstar (Geastrum saccatum, Red List: Endangered) and striate earthstar (Geastrum striatum ).

Sanderlings, goosanders and salt-shaker earthstar fungi


Meijendel, 19 December 2015

This photo shows scenery of nature reserve Meijendel in the Netherlands. We went there on 19 December 2015.

A blackbird sings. Very early, like that other blackbird.

Jay sounds.

Sulphur tuft fungi.

On a lake: mallards, tufted ducks and a female common pochard.

On the lake on the other side of the footpath: both male and female common pochards.

A young mute swan. A little grebe, diving every now and then.

And three goosanders, swimming to the west.

Meijendel sand dunes, 19 December 2015

On some parts of the sand dunes there is not much plant cover.

Meijendel, trees, 19 December 2015

Elsewhere, there is more: common sea-buckthorn and other shrubs and gnarled trees.

A great cormorant flies overhead. A dunnock sits on the top of a shrub.

Meijendel, European beachgrass, 19 December 2015

Eventually, we reach the last sand dune ridge just east of the North Sea, where European beachgrass grows.

On the beach, a few sanderlings, running fast.

As we walk back, some salt-shaker earthstars grow.

Meijendel, salt-shaker earthstar, 19 December 2015

This rare fungus is the biggest earthstar species. Maybe because of the unusually warm December, they are still here. Normally, they are finished in November.

As we continue, two fieldfares in a tree.

A male chaffinch in another tree.

Along the footpath, some more salt-shaker earthstars grow.

A nuthatch calls in woodland.

Rare Dutch mushrooms, good news, but still vulnerable


This is a video from France, with English subtitles, on terracotta hedgehog fungi.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Dec 16, 2015 – Last week there were again pretty terracotta hedgehog fungi at a location on the inner edge of the sand dunes in Bergen (North Holland province). They have been coming here for some years faithfully at the foot of a huge beech tree. Not far away at the edge of a grove on the Zuiderachterveld south of Bergen aan Zee are also terracotta hedgehog fungi. Here they are among oak and beech trees.

Terracotta hedgehog fungi

The terracotta hedgehog fungus (Hydnum rufescens) lives in symbiosis (mycorrhiza-forming) with deciduous trees in forests and along avenues. In the Netherlands this species has never been found (yet) under coniferous trees. This contrasts with its occurrence of central and northern Europe, where it may be numerous in coniferous forests. The locations of the terracotta hedgehog fungus are characterized by nutrient-poor to moderately nutrient-rich and slightly moist, slightly acidic to neutral, often silty sand. Sometimes also on calcareous soils.

In the 1996 Red List the terracotta hedgehog fungus was designated as “Threatened with extinction.” In 2003 it only lived in 13 areas, but on the current distribution map the terracotta hedgehog fungus is in 25 areas. A positive development because it means almost a doubling of the number of areas. But with its appearance in 25 areas the terracotta hedgehog fungus is still quite rare. The terracotta hedgehog fungus is still on the Red List, but now as “Vulnerable” because it also disappeared in some areas.

Rare mushrooms found in Dutch Drenthe province: here.

Herald of the winter fungi


Herald of the winter

This video shows herald of the winter fungi in Finland.

Many fungi don’t survive frosty winter weather. However, there are exceptions to this. As the Dutch Mycological Society wrote (translated):

December 9, 2015 – The herald of the winter is a mushroom that appears late in the autumn. Usually the first specimens won’t come out until after the first frost. So late in the year, there are few people looking for mushrooms; and that is unfortunate, because herald of the winter fungi are beautiful to see. The best time to look for them has come. Knowledge of habitats is a requirement.

Rare fungi discovery at old Dutch fort


Geoglossum elongatum, photo: Piet Brouwer

The Dutch Mycologial Society reports today that lots of rare fungi were found at the 19th century Fort bij Spijkerboor.

They were Geoglossum elongatum fungi; a rare earth tongue species.

Geoglossum elongatum was had been discovered for the first time in the Netherlands in 2009, in the North Sea coastal dunes. Later it was also discovered at a few spots inland, and on Ameland island.

Special about the new find at the Fort bij Spijkerboor is that Geoglossum elongatum is the most frequent earth tongue species there.