Citizen science project searches for one of Portugal's rarest plants

UC takes part in the initiative

25 october, 2023≈ 3 min read

The Portuguese Botanical Society has launched a new appeal to society: look for the blue scabiosa, one of Portugal's rarest plants, which is in full bloom.

The aim of this citizen science initiative is to find out about all the places where the blue scabious ( escabiosa-dos-pauis ) (Succisella carvalhoana), classified as Endangered, lives.

In Portugal, during the work for the Red List of Vascular Plants (Lista Vermelha das Plantas Vasculares), this plant was only found in three places, and the researchers need the eyes of all citizens to look for it in other areas where it has gone unnoticed. "We need targeted searches for this species. All information is precious," urges João Farminhão, from SPBotânica and a researcher at the UC Botanical Garden.

The blue scabious, which blooms between late summer and October, can be identified in the shade of black willows ( salgueiros-pretos ). In an interview with the Wilder website ( entrevista ao site Wilder ), the UC researcher described the plant: "It's a wet meadow plant, very slender and has clusters of pale pink flowers and clusters of green and reddish fruits, which can also be seen at this time of year. The leaves are whole, i.e. they don't have jagged or serrated edges."

The plant is only known in part of Portugal. The SPBotânica team suggests looking for it near watercourses with black willows in Baixo Mondego and Vouga, or in wet meadows in the region between Nave de Haver and Sabugal. "There are historical records in the neighbourhood of Lavadores (Vila Nova de Gaia), Eirol (Aveiro), Santa Luzia (Estarreja), Foja woods (Figueira da Foz) and Vil de Matos (Coimbra)," says a short information note.

Anyone who finds specimens of this species can photograph them and record their observation on the project's website, the BioDiversity4All.