Thursday, July 16, 2015

A new mullein: Verbascum kurdistanicum

Yes, this blog also covers plants on occasion. New plant species are not described at as high a rate as animals but there are still quite a few novelties every week. So, here we go, the first plant species in this new series. 

The genus Verbascum with the common name Mullein comprises of about 360 species. Many of them have a long history of use as a herbal remedy. Although Verbascum species are only native to Europe and Asia some made their way to North America with early settlers. Native Americans used the ground seeds of some of those species as a paralytic fish poison due to a high level of rotenone. This compound is still used by researchers especially during field expeditions to anesthetize fish and other aquatic live.

Verbascum flowers have also been used in the traditional medicine as tea, ointment, baths or compresses for treatment of disorders of the respiratory system, skin, veins, or the gastrointestinal tract. Of course nothing is known about the properties of the new species which was discovered in Turkey. Researchers found it on mountains in the Hakkâri province. The majority of the population is Kurdish and the region is part of the geo-cultural region of Kurdistan hence the species name.

Abstract: Verbascum kurdistanicum Fırat (Scrophulariaceae), is described and illustrated as a new species that is located in Hakkâri, Turkey. In this study, diagnostic morphological characters of this and closely related species (V. oreophilum K.Koch and V. pyramidatum M. Bieb) are discussed. Furthermore, distribution maps for the three taxa are provided.

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