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Friday, 06 March 2009 17:34

Boffins take 70 years to name new species the No Parking Tree

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Who gets to give trees their names, and why would anyone call a new species the No Parking tree?

Trees have been given some odd common names over the years, from the Bald Cypress and Cucumber Tree, to the Tree of Heaven and my particular favourite the Shag Bark Hickory. However, a new species of tree discovered in rural England has been given the oddest of all.

The tree is a deciduous hybrid which is related to the Rowan, a type of Devon Whitebeam to be precise, and has found to be common to the Watersmeet area of North Devon, between the villages of Lynton and Lynmouth.

First identified as a potential new species by the botanist Heff-Warburg in the 1930's growing in a small lay-by, the tree has only just been confirmed as indeed being a completely new species following biochemical analysis by the University of Wales.

One of 110 trees of the species discovered in the area so far, it has been given the Latin name of Sorbus admonitor by those who name such things at the National Museum in Cardiff. This means 'to admonish' I am reliably informed by people who actually understand Latin.

Of course, most of us are not Latin boffins which is why trees have common names. In this case the Latin name provides a clue as to why it has been called the 'No Parking Whitebeam.'

It appears that the very first tree to be identified way back in the 1930's had a no parking sign pinned to it.

As part of the celebrations to mark the 150th year since publication Charles Darwin's On the Origins of Species, botanists have been busy discovering no less than 14 new types of tree around the UK.

They are being named either after the person who first discovered them or the place that they were discovered in. Some are being named because of the way they look, and this one looked like a no parking sign I guess.
 
Dr Tim Rich who is the Head of Vascular Plants at the University of Wales says that the No Parking Whitebeam is easy to identify as it has "...much more strongly lobed leaves." That and the traffic wardens hanging around the roots.

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