The discovery of this new species of fundamental shrub to maintain river and stream flows occurred in the municipality of Sonsón

Scientists from the University of Antioquia reported that they found a new species of frailejón in a mountain in northwestern Colombia, the second most biodiverse country in the world.

The discovery of this new species of shrub, essential for maintaining river and stream flows, occurred in the municipality of Sonsón, department of Antioquia (northwest), the only previously known habitat for the new species of this shrub, and was revealed on the occasion of the Day World Environment.

The biologist Fernando Alzate from the University of Antioquia, who led the research, explained that this new frailejón has a thick trunk that reaches 1.2 meters in height, succulent and hairy leaves, and is suitable for retaining water and resisting temperature variations. in high mountain ecosystems of equatorial zones.

Because it was not described in the genus Espeletia, the scientists assured that it is a new species that joins the other 50 that already exist, so they decided to call it “Espeletia restricta”.

“Recognizing it as a new entity allows (…) to identify that it has a serious conservation problem” because its “population is infinitely small” and is threatened by climate change and tourism, said Alzate, who added that there are between 300 and 400 specimens of the new species, spread over half a hectare of mountain.

Although scientists initially thought it was a known type of frailejón, the length of its branches relative to the plant confirmed the discovery.

According to the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Biological Research, Colombia concentrates almost 60 percent of the paramos where frailejones grow, which only occur at more than 3 thousand meters in height in countries such as Venezuela, Peru, over the Cordillera de los Andes, and in Costa Rica.

These millenary plants naturally retain the water from the clouds and the mist that surround them, making them vital for maintaining river and stream flows, according to studies by the National University of Colombia.

They are “possibly the most representative plants of the Colombian páramos, and they play a fundamental role in maintaining them” by regulating the circulation of the liquid in these humid ecosystems, said von Humboldt.

According to Alzate, the discovery was made possible thanks to access to territories previously hit by the war that allowed the peace agreement signed in 2016 with the dissolved FARC guerrillas, now turned into a political party.

According to the UN, deforestation in Colombia, associated mainly with the expansion of the agricultural frontier, illegal mining and coca cultivation, haunt the natural wealth of the most biodiverse country on the planet, after Brazil.

With information from Notimex