3 June 2019

New species of snowdrop discovered

Researchers discover a Critically Endangered snowdrop in Turkey.

Close up of a cluster of new snowdrops

Kew researcher Dr Aaron Davis, along with collaborators in Turkey (Dr Yildiz Konca) and Ukraine (Dr Dimitri Zubov), have recently described a new species of snowdrop (Galanthus bursanus (Amaryllidaceae)) found in Turkey.

Two populations were discovered near to the city of Bursa in the Marmara Sea Region in the north west of the country. Discovered growing in red clay soil, the conservation status of the new species was assessed as Critically Endangered when informally applying the IUCN Red List criteria. Deforestation, conversion of the surrounding habitat to crop land and climate change endanger the survival of this snowdrop. With Galanthus species listed under CITES, illegal collecting poses an additional threat.

Unlike most other snowdrop species, Galanthus bursanus (Bursa snowdrop) flowers in the autumn and without its leaves. The flowers are highly fragrant.

Dr Yildiz Konca said:

"This is a beautiful and exciting new species of Galanthus (snowdrop). It is incredible that we are still finding new species of snowdrop in Turkey in the twenty-first century. However, this is a very rare species and if we don't work towards effective conservation, it could become extinct within a few decades." 

 

Close up of snowdrops
Galanthus bursanus in Turkey. Credit Dimitri Zubov.

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