Wednesday 24 December 2014

Hawkweed named for Sir David Attenborough

The December issue of New Journal of Botany should be with you soon after Christmas, and in it you will find a description of a new Hawkweed from the Brecon Beacons, Wales. 

Tim and a Taraxacum in the Brecon Beacons
Image: C. Gait
The botanist who described this new Hawkweed is none other than Tim Rich, co-ordinator of the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt, and he has named it Hieracium attenboroughianum after Sir David Attenborough. 

Tim said "I have named this species in honour of Sir David Frederick Attenborough whose ‘World about us’ series on BBC television inspired me to study ecology when I was 17. I have watched and admired his work ever since, as have many other people and, in naming this Hawkweed, pay tribute to him for so eloquently educating us about the natural world".

Cover of NJB in 2014
Images by C. Ferguson-Smyth
You will have to wait for the December issue of New Journal of Botany to find out more and see images of the new Hawkweed, but Tim's abstract says "Hieracium attenboroughianum is a member of the H. britannicum group in Hieracium section Stelligera Zahn, related to H. britannicoides P. D. Sell, but differing in cupped, dark green leaves and sparse, medium simple eglandular hairs and many glandular hairs on the involucral bracts. About 300 plants occur on Old Red Sandstone mountain ledges on Cribyn (VC42). It is classified under the IUCN Threat Category ‘Endangered’."

If you are thinking of making a start with Hawkweeds - and be warned, they are notoriously tricky - then you will need this, the appropriate volume of this and a lot of time and patience while you work up to this

If you'd prefer something less challenging, we recommend a mooch around your local patch in the first few days of January and sending in your records to Tim, Ryan, me and Sarah for the New Year Plant Hunt.     


  1. Congratulations to both Sir David Frederick Attenborough and Tim Rich. I couldn't agree more with Tim on naming it Hieracium attenboroughianum .
    His voice and programs on BBC have been a great inspiration to me too.
    We must give credit where credit is due!

    Kind regards, Erik

    1. I agree Erik, Sir David is a huge inspiration to all naturalists but I am biased, he went to Wyggeston Boys' School in Leicester - I attended the nearby Girls' School in the 60s, by which time our local boy had become an international legend! What a guy :-)


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