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Snowdonia hawkweed, Heboglys eryri
About Snowdonia Hawkweed:
The Snowdonia hawkweed is a very unique plant, and one of the world's rarest species. It was first discovered in 1880 by John Griffith, in the Welsh valleys of Snowdonia. The Snowdonia hawkweed disappeared after its discovery until 1967 when it was found in Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve in Wales, U.K. This species became camera shy and was thought to have become extinct until 2002, when Dr. Tim Rich and his team of botanists found a single plant of Snowdonia hawkweed in the same location it was found in 1967. Interestingly, Dr. Rich had led another search for this plant in 2000 and failed to find anything but only two years later this plant caught his attention in an effort to save itself from the brink of extinction. Dr. Rich reported in an interview, "
We were literally capering about for joy on the mountain ledges like lunatics when we found it... I was worried that this species might have become extinct, a Welsh Dodo."
The snowdonia hawkweed can grow up to 30 cm tall. It forms a rosette with softly toothed lance-shaped leaves that narrow towards the base and forms a shaggy stalk. A slender stem supports a cluster of deep golden-yellow flower heads. The base of the flower heads are surrounded by a spiral of black, velvety bracts, known as an involucre.
Like many hawkweeds, the Snowdonia hawkweed is a perennial plant that has been known to fruit irregularly. This plant flowers in July, reproduces asexually, and produces wind-dispersed seeds, which become ripe after about one month of flowering.
Location and Habitat:
The Snowdonia hawkweed may be the rarest plant in the world. The hawkweed is endemic to Snowdonia, North Wales. It is thought that it is only grown in seven small areas in Snowdonia, and does not grow anywhere else in the world. It has been found growing 300 and 900 m above sea level. This plant grows on rocky, north-facing cliffs.
Endangerment and Threats:
As a species with only one known remaining plant in nature, Snowdonia hawkweed is an extremely rare species which is defenseless against many of its threats. Its disappearance for the last few decades could be attributed to an increase in sheep grazing in the Welsh mountains during the 1960s. Soil acidification, which is caused by acid rain, could also be a reason for this plant's endangered status. The rarity of Snowdonia hawkweed is an attraction for many botanists and encourages collection of the plant, proposing a new and detrimental problem. Unpredictable events such as rock-falls also contribute to increased vulnerability of this species.
The biggest threat against Snowdonia hawkweed is sheep grazing, which has been eliminated recently by Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve. All the locations where this plant has been previously found have been given
high protection, since these areas are also SSSIs or Sites of Special Scientific Interest as well as a part of Snowdonia National Park and Yryri Special Area of Conservation. Seeds have also been collected from this lone plant of snowdonia in order to start a population at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. In other words, an ex-situ population is in the works and seedlings are being cultivated at this time. If an ex-situ population succeeds, a re-stocking program may be established.
Due to rarity, location, and lack of extensive knowledge about snowdonia hawkweed, no informational videos about this plant could be found at this time.
. N.d. Photograph.
. Dreamstime, 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2013. <
"Snowdonia Hawkweed (Hieracium Snowdoniense)."
. Arkive, 2003. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <
Snowdonia Hawkweed (Hieracium Snowdoniense)
. N.d. Photograph.
. National Biodiversity Network, 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2013. <
Vinces Worthwhile Website
. The Natural World, 21 Dec. 2012. Web. 07 Mar. 2013. <
. N.d. Photograph.
. Google, 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2013. <
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