Specimen of the Day: 7/1/10 – Ley’s Whitebeam

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Christine, one of the Herbarium’s many volunteers, sent me a link to a very interesting Radio 4 programme about Britain’s Rarest Trees –

If you thought that all the world’s rarest trees were only in virgin rainforest or on remote tropical islands, then prepare to be surprised. Brett Westwood joins botanist Tim Rich from the National Museum of Wales to look for the whitebeam trees, which are found nowhere else in the world. Ley’s whitebeam near Merthyr Tydfil has only 17 specimens growing in the wild, and new species are still being described from the Avon Gorge in Bristol. Thanks to analysis of their DNA we know more than ever about these trees and their conservation presents some fascinating challenges.

You can listen to the full programme again here.

A quick search of our collection revealed that we had a specimen of Ley’s Whitebeam (Sorbus leyana) collected by Rev. Augustin Ley (1842 – 1911) in Wales in 1899.  See here for more information on Rev. Ley.

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