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Cambridge University Herbarium


Rediscovering the Extinct

Researcher: Tim Rich (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland)

For some rare plants that have not been recorded for decades, herbarium specimens provide the only evidence that they ever existed and the only means to verify new occurrences.

Hieracium fissuricola, P.D. Sell (common name: Fisherplace Gill Hawkweed), is a rare Lake District endemic. It was regarded as extinct, having not been refound at the site where it was discovered in 1954, nor at any other site. Tim was commissioned by Natural England in 2013 to search for this 'lost plant'. He and others had little success until an unusual Hieracium was found at a new site on the nearby Glenridding Estate in 2021. With the only known material of the species in the University Herbarium in Cambridge, including the specimen on which the original naming and description was based (the holotype), this reference collection was essential for verifying the rediscovery of the species and planning for its conservation.

Rich, T.C.G. (2023). Conservation of Britain’s biodiversity: rediscovery of the extinct Lake District endemic Hieracium fissuricola (Asteraceae). British & Irish Botany 5(2).