A plant species, thought to be extinct for more than 200 years, has been rediscovered in the Winterhoek mountain areas of the Tulbagh region in the Western Cape.

The plant, called the Psoralea Cataracta, is a type of fountain bush from the pea family. A PhD student in Botany at the University of Cape Town, Brian du Preez, made the discovery.

The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers in the Western Cape (CREW) say the discovery shows how important proper botany is.

“Even though SA has a good history of botanical exploration and we actually know a lot about our plant species, it still shows so much need for good botanical work to happen in these particular areas, especially in mountainous areas where we find a lot of these species are very restricted, only occur in small areas,” says Ismail Ebrahim, CREW Project Manager.

Ebrahim also says that CREW has teams which record plants that are rare or near extinction across the country.

“We have volunteers that help us monitor SA plants. Not only to look at one group of plants, they’re looking at everything threatened in the country. So they go out into the veld, into the natural areas, and they go and search for these plant populations and where they find, they obviously record the information,” says Ebrahim.