Hairy Daisy Discovered

Yep. In the Venezuelan Andes.

The fuzz covering this daisy, the Coespeletia palustris, helps it survive in the harsh mountain climate. (Courtesy of Mauricio Diazgranados)
Photo: Courtesy of Mauricio Diazgranados

Researchers on an expedition in the Venezuelan Andes found a new species of daisy. Coated in hairs that provide Dr. Seuss-esque insulation, the Coespeletia palustris grows at an altitude of 12,450 feet.

"Hairs cover the entire plant, as in most of the species of the subtribe Espeletiinae," says Mauricio Diazgranados, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution and one of the researchers who discovered the plant. "Species of this subtribe are probably some of the hairiest plants known,” he told National Geographic.

The daisy has what's called a nodding capitulum, meaning that it droops. This, along with a series of "leaflike structures" underneath its face, keep it dry so its pollen can disperse more efficiently by wind, insects, and hummingbirds.

Nonetheless, the Coespeletia palustris is in trouble, as climate change in high-elevation marshes and wetlands places this species at risk of extinction.

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