Coespeletia palustris (Espeletiinae: Asteraceae) was collected in 2011 and described as the eighth known species in its genus of flowering plants, which is endemic to páramo ecosystems almost entirely in Venezuela (one species is native to northern Colombian páramo). Like its congenitors, C. palustris is adapted to its unique high-altitude (3800-4800 meters; 12,500-15,700 feet) neotropical habitat and experiences extreme daily temperature changes (Diazgranados and Morillo 2013).
The plant reaches 100 cm (3.3 feet) high, with long thin linear leaves arranged in a rosette up to 60 cm (2 feet) in diameter. It produces multiple stout stalks bearing purple daisy-like inflorescences 4-6 cm (1.7-2.4 inches) across and small, spiny pollen grains thought adapted for wind dispersal. The species name, palustris, is latin for swampy, reflecting this species’ marshy habitat. It grows in small populations (200-400 individuals) in few, highly-localized marshes in the Páramo de Santo Domingo and the Sierra de la Culata, in areas less than 0.5 km2 in size. Relatives in its genus (e.g. C. moritziana) grow on drier, rocky slopes, rather than soggy wet soils. Previous to its formal description as a distinct species, C. palustris was considered the marshy form of the highly polymorphic C. moritziana. Researchers suggest that even with the separation of C. palustris, C. moritziana may still be a species group warranting further detailed study.
The páramo ecosystem has been identified as a cool-temperature diversity hotspot, one of the richest known ecosystems with plant inhabitants showing high endemism, and many of the most rapidly diversifying lineages on earth (Madriñán et al. 2013). Scientists believe that the very specific and sensitive environment C. palustris inhabits makes this plant especially vulnerable to extinction, especially as the possible result of global warming and climate change (Diazgranados and Morillo 2013; Madrinan et al. 2013).
Small population of about 200–400 individuals growing in marshes, on very swampy and wet soil. Other Espeletiinae found on the proximate drier slopes are: Coespeletia timotensis, Espeletia schultzii Wedd., Espeletia weddellii Sch. Bip. ex Wedd., and Libanothamnus neriifolius (Bonpl. ex Humb.) Ernst.
This species may be at a certain risk of extinction, since it is found in a very particular habitat, sensitive to climate change.
Coespeletia palustris is found in a few marshy areas of paramo, and is endemic to the Venezuelan Andes. Páramo can refer to a variety of alpine tundra ecosystems, and is often described with its geographical confinements in the Andes.It is the ecosystem of the regions above the continuous forest line, yet below the permanent snowline. It is closely related to C. moritziana, but is different from it in ways like a reduced number of florets in the capitula, much larger ray flowers with longer, more consistent ligulae and also longer linguiform appendages. Its smaller pollen grains, larger cypselae, ebracteate scapes differentiate it from C. moritziana, also its leaves and inflorescences have a more whitish indumentum, it has larger leaf sheaths, and is found in a more marshy habitat than C. moritziana.
- Diazgranados, Mauricio; Morillo, Gilberto (2013). "A new species of Coespeletia (Asteraceae, Millerieae) from Venezuela". PhytoKeys 28: 9–18. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.28.6378.
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