New Grass Discovered in the Mountains of Turkey

The species is described in a recent issue of Turkish Journal of Botany (41: 189-199; 2017). In 2014, Soreng, Cabi, and Burçin Çıngay (Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanic Garden) were on a collecting trip in south-central Turkey if they came across an unusual, mat-forming grass of the genus Alopecurus (foxtail) growing together with their fresh Bellardiochloa species (see Plant Press 18: 9; 2015). Boudko had just completed her master’s degree on connections within and among Alopecurus and its allies in 2014. The debate of”is that this new or only an odd form of a known species” started. Like the finest of modern detectives, they conducted DNA analysis with this mysterious grass to get more details for their own hypothesis. The DNA results came in: this was brand new. The botanists took out their specimens for re-analysis, and hit on the herbaria to examine dried plants of comparable taxa. It appeared they really did possess a plant on their hands that was previously undescribed by the scientific community.
Alopecurus goekyigitiana in the central Taurus Mountains of Turkey. (photograph by Evren Cabi)
Left: Alopecurus goekyigitiana in the middle Taurus Mountains of Turkey.
Proper: The inflorescence of Alopecurus goekyigitiana. (photographs by Evren Cabi)
Alopecurus goekyigitiana Cabi & Soreng is known for Ali Nihat Gökyiğit, just one significant for his contributions to the Illustrated Flora of Turkey and to Turkish botany. It is a pale, greyish-green grass that forms large mats and has long, slim steams with a short, dense, spherical inflorescence that’s golden-yellow in color. It was discovered in the Taurus Mountains, on steep, craggy, combined sedimentary-rock terrain, coated in arid high steppe to non subalpine vegetation. The investigators believe this new grass has a small range of more than 100 km2. Due to Alopecurus goekyigitiana’s limited range and the fact that it grows in a heavily grazed region, the researchers classed A. goekyingitiana as Endangered (EN) — although they do hope that its remote and rugged environment will offer some protection.