Meet three new subspecies of forget-me-nots

Meet three new subspecies of forget-me-nots

Botany Curator Heidi Meudt and colleagues have formally described some new forget-me-nots in two published papers. Read on to learn their names, see what they look like, and discover more about them.

Two New Zealand subspecies new to science

One of the most exciting parts of being a curator is getting to name and describe species and subspecies new to science. In one paper, Meudt 2021*, Heidi used morphological data from museum specimens to describe and name the following two subspecies. Thanks to Shannel Courtney and Peter Heenan for helping collect and name them!

(1) Myosotis goyenii subsp. infima Meudt & Heenan

Myosotis goyenii subsp. infima Meudt & Heenan, collected 26 January 2018, Molesworth Station, Clarence Valley north of Hanmer Springs near road, Molesworth Recreation Reserve., New Zealand. Field Collection 2017-2018. CC BY 4.0. Te Papa (SP106686)
Myosotis goyenii subsp. infima Meudt & Heenan, collected 26 January 2018, Molesworth Station, Clarence Valley north of Hanmer Springs near road, Molesworth Recreation Reserve, New Zealand. Field Collection 2017-2018. CC BY 4.0. Te Papa (SP106686)
Myosotis goyenii subsp. infima. Photo by Peter Heenan (CHR 666639)
Myosotis goyenii subsp. infima. Photo by Peter Heenan (CHR 666639)

The two subspecies of M. goyenii are found only in the South Island. The new subspecies M. goyenii subsp. infima can be distinguished from M. goyenii subsp. goyenii by its multiple rosettes forming caespitose clumps, shorter style, and anthers completely included inside the corolla tube. The two subspecies are geographically separated too: subsp. infima is found in Canterbury and Marlborough, whereas subsp. goyenii is found in Otago and Southland.

(2) Myosotis brockiei subsp. dysis Courtney & Meudt

Myosotis brockiei subsp. dysis Courtney & Meudt, collected 15 January 2017, Limestone bluffs above old Mangarakau School., New Zealand. Field Collection 2015-2016. CC BY 4.0. Te Papa (SP105709)
Myosotis brockiei subsp. dysis Courtney & Meudt, collected 15 January 2017, Limestone bluffs above old Mangarakau School, New Zealand. Field Collection 2015-2016. CC BY 4.0. Te Papa (SP105709)
Myosotis brockiei subsp. dysis Courtney & Meudt, collected 15 January 2017, Limestone bluffs above old Mangarakau School., New Zealand. Field Collection 2015-2016. CC BY 4.0. Te Papa (SP105709)
Myosotis brockiei subsp. dysis Courtney & Meudt, collected 15 January 2017, Limestone bluffs above old Mangarakau School, New Zealand. Field Collection 2015-2016. CC BY 4.0. Te Papa (SP105709)

The two subspecies of M. brockei are found only in Western Nelson on the South Island. The new subspecies M. brockiei subsp. dysis can be distinguished from M. brockiei subsp. brockiei by its stoloniferous, mat-like habit, antrorse hairs on the scape, and obtuse leaf apices. The two subspecies are geographically separated too: subsp. dysis is at lowland cliff sites near the coast, whereas subsp. brockiei is found at higher elevations in the ranges of Kahurangi National Park.

From species to subspecies in New Guinea

Heidi and colleagues also revised the taxonomy of Myosotis australis and allied species from New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea in a separate paper in 2020 (Meudt et al. 2020**).

They showed that M. saruwagedica from Papua New Guinea has a few minor characters that distinguish it from M. australis in New Zealand and Australia. These minor differences, together with the fact that it is allopatric – that is, found in a different geographical area – means it is better recognized as a subspecies of M. australis rather than a different species.

(3) Myosotis australis subsp. saruwagedica (Schltr. ex Brand) Meudt et al.

This subspecies is found only in very high-elevation mountains – up to 4350 m above sea level! But these areas are very difficult to access, so very little is known about its habitats, population sizes or biology, and there are few images available. You can see a botanical illustration of this subspecies in Flora Malesiana as well as some herbarium specimens on Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

Cover of Australian Systematic Botany showing Myosotis from the Meudt et al. (2020) taxonomic research paper.
Cover of Australian Systematic Botany showing the morphological variation within the Myosotis australis species group from the Meudt et al. (2020) taxonomic research paper where M. australis subsp. saruwagedica was published.

References

Further reading

1 Comment

  1. The high elevation occurrence of M. saruwagedica in New Guinea would seem to be a classic case of differentiation by tectonic uplift, as documented for many other plants and animals in the region (including ‘mangroves’ on mountain tops). The lowland coastal habitat of dysis vs brockiei at higher elevations in the ranges of Kahurangi National Park may well also represent differentiation by tectonic uplift, as documented for innumerable other plants and animals in New Zealand. Tectonics is one of the prime movers of evolution in New Zealand.

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