New species of tree discovered in Scotland
BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Glasgow and West | New species of tree discovered
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 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.
Scotsman.com News - Sci-Tech - Trees on Arran 'are a whole new species'
Fri 15 Jun 2007
Science & Technology
Trees on Arran 'are a whole new species'
A TREE that only grows on Arran has been identified as a new species
The Catacol whitebeam, named after the glen in which it was found, is
believed to be the rarest tree species in the UK, with just two known
Three trees were discovered in the 1990s but DNA tests had to be done
before the species could be formally recognised and given a Latin
name, Sorbus pseudomeinichii.
Since then one tree has died. Of the others, one is thought to be
close to death while one is healthy.
A seed has grown to a sapling at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
and cuttings have also been taken in order to preserve the species.
The new species is a product of several generations of interbreeding
between rowan trees and different types of whitebeam.
The Catacol whitebeam is a cross between a rowan and a cut-leaved
whitebeam, itself a cross between a rowan and an Arran whitebeam,
which was a hybrid of a rowan and a rock whitebeam.
Graeme Walker, an area officer for Scottish Natural Heritage, said
the evolution of the whitebeams could be tracked through its genes.
"We have this fantastic example of the evolutionary process
documented with all the different stages, which is absolutely
fascinating," he said.
"It is a clear example of how the species can change and how it
happens in a natural environment.
"There's a dilution of the rock whitebeam all the way through this.
It's becoming more and more physically like the rowan. Eventually its
appearance will be very similar to the rowan, but genetically it will
be very different."
Dr Ashley Robertson, of Bristol University, who helped discover the
species, said the tree was a species in its own right as it was able
"It is not an evolutionary dead end. It is evolution in action," he
However Dr Roberston said the new species' future was in the balance.
"There were three but one has gone already. There was a young one
like a sapling but that probably got eaten by a deer. Another was
quite an old one and there was only one branch left that was growing.
The other one that's left is a healthy looking tree.
"But they are quite hardy and very attractive. I've been trying to
grow some. I'd love to have one in my garden."
(Two can play at George Orwell quotes)
"In this country I don’t think it is enough realized—I myself had no idea of it until a few years ago—that Scotland has a case against England."
Trees are good, trees are good,
though very much maligned and misunderstood ..."
(not exactly "The Shamen")
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