Three New Tree Species Found

In the past few days, three new tree species have been discovered species of whitebeam tree have been discovered by scientists at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset. Cheddar Gorge is one of the largest in the UK and is a well known tourist hot spot managed by the National Trust.

The discovery follows the first time Cheddar Gorge, a rich botanical site, had been surveyed specifically for whitebeams. Because of the nature of the gorge, with steep and hazardous cliffs, in places up to 120 metres high, the survey team had found it a long and difficult task at times.

In total eight species of whitebeam were recorded in Cheddar Gorge, including the three new species.

  • Cheddar whitebeam (Sorbus cheddarensis)
    Oval shaped leaves this tree can grow to at least seven metres high. At least nineteen of these trees were found.
  • Twin cliffs whitebeam (Sorbus eminentoides)
    Roundish leaves these trees can grow to around nine metres with greyish brown bark. Fifteen of these trees were recorded.
  • Gough’s Rock whitebeam (Sorbus rupicoloides)
    Long narrow leaves these trees grow up to seven metres. Thirteen of these trees were found here.

Cheddar is a nationally important site for whitebeams along with other locations such as the Avon Gorge in Bristol, the Wye Valley, Craig-y-Cilau in the Brecon Beacons and the north Devon-Somerset coast.

Two other National Trust sites – Watersmeet in north Devon and Leigh Woods in Bristol – were also found to be whitebeam hotspots including species unique to those sites.

Scientists took samples from the Cheddar Gorge trees and used DNA techniques to identify them as new species. Sat nav (GPS) technology was also used to record the precise locations of these rarities, helping to relocate them in the future.

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2 Comments + Add Comment

  • Fantastic news!

  • super.. I love visiting the Millenium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, so I hope that there will be a display here of the three new whitebeam species found.

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