One of the Western Cape’s endemic species has been rediscovered by a student from the University of Cape Town (UCT), after it was believed to be extinct since the 1800’s.
Psoralea cataracta is one of the first recorded species lost to forestry and agriculture and originates from the pea family. It would most commonly grow next to mountain streams in Tulbagh.
PhD botany student from UCT, Brian du Preez accidentally stumbled on a small population of the “extinct” plant while walking along a narrow track close to a river on a farm in the Tulbagh area.
The last known specimen of P. cataracta was collected from a waterfall in Tulbagh in 1804.
The plant was subsequently declared extinct and added to the Red Data List of South African Plants after a number of failed missions to find it.
While volunteering with the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) to search for the elusive plant, Du Preez came across it in Tulbagh and he knew exactly what he had found.
Internationally recognized specialist on the genus of Psoralea from the United Kingdom has since confirmed the species’ rediscovery.
Du Preez has in the past discovered two other extinct species, also from the pea family, Polhillia ignota and Aspalathus cordicarpa that were last seen some 69 or more years ago.