Two new species of dandelion, Taraxacum decastroi and Taraxacum lacianense, have been discovered in Spain, in the Pyrenees and Cordillera Cantábrica mountains respectively, according to a study published in Annales Botanici Fennici.
These newly discovered species have long leaves and saffron-yellow flower heads. Like many species of Taraxacum, the plants have little or no pollen, as the seeds are produced without fertilization.
Classifying the new species took a fair amount of work, according to lead researcher Antonio Galán de Mera from the Department of Biology (Botany) at San Pablo-CEU University in Madrid.
“We had to compare them with numerous examples from Europe (above all in Spain and Portugal), which were lent to us from the collections of other colleagues,” he said in a press release from Spanish news agency SINC.
The two species are closely related to Taraxacum reophilum from the Alps, but can be distinguished from more than 50 other Iberian Peninsula species by their “fairly characteristic” fruits, which have little ornamentation.
“It’s hard to find new species now in Spain,” said Galán de Mera in the release. “It depends on the complexity of the group of plants you study.”
Both plants grow in moist soils, like their relatives, and flower in the summer. The new species T. decastroi is named after two naturalists, Emilio and Pérez de Castro, and grows in the fir forests of Lérida in the Pyrenees. T. lacianense is found in bog land in the León Mountains, particularly the Laciana region from which the plant takes its name.