Named to honour the peace-making efforts of the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, recently awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, a new species of the sunflower family genus Espeletia is described from the Páramo de Presidente. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.
Located 28 km south from the closest city Chitagá, the Colombian Páramo de Presidente has been considered unsafe for decades due to the country's turbulent history. Like in many dangerous areas around Colombia, the flora of this páramo has not been studied well yet.
Closed to researchers for decades, the peace agreement opened this and other places for fruitful botanical explorations during the post-conflict times in Colombia. The new species was collected during an expedition of the authors in 2009, in which they met with left-wing armed members.
"Thanks to the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, and his persistent efforts to achieve peace with the guerillas FARC in Colombia, after 52 years of conflict, we are now able to explore previously unreachable areas," comments the lead author, Mauricio Diazgranados, research leader at Kew Gardens, Ardingly, UK.
"Naming our species to honour his peace efforts, we hope that this publication will further inspire the President to continue with more actions for the preservation of Colombian biodiversity."
The new species is endemic to Colombia and is only known from the Páramo de Presidente, at elevations of 3400-3600 m. Although a large population of several hundreds of individuals growing in the grasslands of the páramo was observed, this particular area is not under any sort of protection, and there are signs of grazing activity. In addition, the proximity of extensive potato plantations suggests that the species is probably Critically Endangered.
Diazgranados M, Sánchez LR (2017) Espeletia praesidentis, a new species of Espeletiinae (Millerieae, Asteraceae) from northeastern Colombia. PhytoKeys 76: 1-12. https:/