Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A new legume: Psoralea forbesiae

Psoralea is a genus with its own family. Most species are actually poisonous,  but the starchy roots of two species,  P. esculenta (prairie turnip) and P. hypogaea,  are in fact edible. A few species form tumbleweeds.

The name of the new species honours Scottish born Helena Madelain Lamond Forbes (1900–1959) who immigrated to South Africa with her parents when young. She worked at the National Herbarium in Pretoria, visited Kew Gardens for one year and ended up as the Curator of the Natal Herbarium (NH).

For the experts: Psoralea forbesiae C.H.Stirt., A.Bello & Muasya is a new species of Psoraleeae, Fabaceae. Psoralea forbesiae is endemic to the Swartberg Mountains and is a tall densely branched re-sprouting shrub up to 2.5 m, with bluish-green stems and with most parts covered in small crater-like glands, leaves pinnately 3-foliolate, linear-oblong, pale bluish-green, semi-conduplicate, somewhat succulent, glabrous, crowded at the end of bare branches on older stems or distributed along short branches on young shoots, petiolate. A description of P. forbesiae, together with photographs and a distribution map are presented.

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