Monday, May 2, 2011

Senecio rodriguezii, endemism death threat

Senecio rodriguezii is a beautiful endemic Mallorca and Menorca who loves the sea, growing on coastal rocks splashed by the waves. Despite its diminutive size does not go unnoticed, as their attractive flowers of a vivid pink and white stars stand out as the brown-gray rocks sunburned and salt. Belongs to the great family of Compositae.

Senecio rodriguezii flower. Enlarging the picture with a double click is best appreciated its beauty. 

Senecio rodriguezii in a quarry a few meters from the sea with their flowers facing the sun and its fleshy leaves that store water to support the long, hot and dry summer Balearics. 

 Flowers of just over two inches in diameter. Close-up views like two jewels with colors and design that only nature can create.

 In this picture is best seen rough structure, fleshy leaves, adapted to drought and salt from the spray of seawater. Beside him is a young samphire, Crithmum maritimum, who lives in the same habitat. 

Senecio rodriguezii habitat on the northwest coast of Mallorca. Enlarging the picture with a double click you can appreciate the beauty of this pristine place. It is the mouth of a river that carries water only in the autumn and winter. The Senecio grows on rocks in the final yards of the mouth.

The small Senecio rodriguezii miraculously survives human greed by protecting the cliffs of Mallorca and Menorca, difficult or impossible to urbanization. However, also the hand of man, in recent years in Mallorca has become a Australian fungus that infects composed of Senecio and Bellis, the Puccinia distincta, a highly aggressive pest that can be put on the endangered grass beautiful coastline. Probably entered the island with the importation of cultivated plants of Bellis perennis.

At first the fungal disease only affecting the Senecio vulgaris. It seemed very difficult to reach the cliffs, but the wind-borne spores have gotten through the vast forests of pines and oaks that form a green littoral  barrier and have begun to attack the fragile Senecio rodriguezii. 

In this photograph taken at the Cape of Formentor in Majorca can be seen the two species of Senecio fatally infected by Puccinia distincta: up a very sick Senecio vulgaris surrounded by the endemic Sibthorpia africana and down a Senecio rodriguezii practically dead. 

Senecio rodriguezii stem severely affected by the attack of Puccinia distincta. 

Underside of a leaf of Senecio vulgaris attacked by the fungus that has a predilection for the central nerve where to find the sheet feeder vessels, whose sap is fed. 

Details of Puccinia distincta nodules that release millions of yellow spores. Hopefully the small Senecio rodriguezii will survive this plague Australia.

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