Snowdonia Hawkweed Facts
- The small, quite lovely, and somewhat mysterious Snowdonia Hawkweed easily ranks as one of the rarest plants in the world. The remarkable species also goes by the difficult to pronounce scientific name of the Heiracium snowdoniense. But, by either term, it’s a truly incredible work of Nature.
- Firstly, it represents a relatively recent discovery. That’s becasue scientists first described the small plant in the year 1880. Then, despite numerous expeditions in the intervening decades, the attractive species seemed to disappear sometime prior to 1953. As a result, most researchers believed it to be extinct.
- Then, in 2002, someone accidentally discovered a single plant growing on a remote hillside in a region which forms part of the Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve. Also, how the single plant could appear after so long is a mystery. To date, this lone individual plant remains the only one to be observed by researchers.
- Though the IUCN does not yet, for unknown reasons, list the species on its site, it certainly meets all the requirements for a status of Critically Endangered. Obviously, the Snowdonia Hawkweed must be considered to be at extreme risk of imminent extinction. Without doubt, the greatest threats it faces likely include habitat loss and climate change.
Snowdonia Hawkweed Physical Description
Although the Snowdonia Hawkweed constitutes an incredible species for many reasons, physical size isn’t among them. That’s because the extraordinarily rare Angiosperm remains a comparatively small perennial plant species. In point of fact, the otherwise remarkable plant typically attains a height measuring only about 12 in (30 cm).
This marvel of Nature also possesses a visual charm. That occurs partly due to the fact that its flowers wonderfully display as a bright golden yellow in color. Furthermore, it produces these at the ends of long, delicate stems. These further grow in small clusters. Each stem also possesses a small rosette of elongated leaves growing at the base.
Further, numerous tiny black hair-like structures cover both the stems and the backs of the leaves of the Snowdonia Hawkweed. This lovely plant also produces fruit irregularly and even reproduces asexually. The small fruit ripens after approximately one month with the wind acting as the principal pollinator.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Asyerales
- Family: Asteraceae
- Genus: Hieracium
- Species: H. snowdoniense
Snowdonia Hawkweed Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
First of all, given that only one specimen appears to exist, the delicately lovely Snowdonia Hawkweed obviously only inhabits an incredibly small range. Additionally, it appears that the amazing plant never had an extensive range of habitation. Furthermore, when it man first discovered the flowering plant, it only inhabited seven individual mountain ledges in Wales, in Europe.
Obviously, details about the previous habitat, if any, of the lovely flower, remain unknown. That’s because, despite exhaustive research, no evidence of a prior existence anywhere else on the planet exists. Quite surprisingly, for the moment, its only known habitat remains quite harsh. That’s because it currently only inhabits a very rocky, quite steep, and north-facing inaccessible mountain cliff.
In addition, many experts believe that long-term overgrazing by local sheep populations may have led to the current predicament the species faces. Thankfully, however, conservation efforts for the marvelous Snowdonia Hawkweed have recently been initiated. These include the collection of seeds, in an attempt to establish a new population at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.