Kew Bulletin

, 71:34 | Cite as

Two distinctive new species of Commicarpus (Nyctaginaceae) from gypsum outcrops in eastern Ethiopia

  • Ib Friis
  • Michael G. Gilbert
  • Odile Weber
  • Sebsebe Demissew


During field trips in 2013 and 2014, two distinctive plants belonging to the genus Commicarpus were collected in the Lele Hills, Bale Zone, eastern Ethiopia, on outcrops of sedimentary rock belonging to the Gorrahei Formation with high contents of gypsum. The plants are here described as two new species: Commicarpus macrothamnus Friis & O. Weber sp. nov. is unique among all hitherto described species of Commicarpus, being a robust free-standing shrub, almost a small tree up to 3½ m high, with woody stems up to c. 12 cm in diam. Commicarpus leleensis Friis & Sebsebe sp. nov. is also unusual in Commicarpus, being a small self-supporting shrub to 0.8 (– 1) m high. Both new species occur in small populations with restricted distribution; models based on the available information show that the potential distribution is also restricted. C. macrothamnus is here evaluated as Vulnerable (VU), while C. leleensis, only known from the type, should remain Data Deficient (DD). Outcrops of gypsum with restricted-range species are well known from eastern Ethiopia and Somalia, but the locality with the two new species of Commicarpus is the most north-western and one of the highest sites recorded so far for gypsum endemics.

Key Words

conservation ecology Gorrahei Formation inflorescence narrow endemics shrubby habit taxonomy 



The authors are indebted to the Carlsberg Foundation for continued support to the study of the flora and vegetation of Ethiopia, including the field trips to the Bale Zone in 2013 and 2014. The Bentham-Moxon Trust of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is thanked for supporting Odile Weber's participation in the field work in 2013. The travel companions in 2013 and 2014, Wege Abebe, technical assistant at ETH, Abubaker Adem, guide from Dinshu, and Ermias Getachew, driver at the College of Natural Science, Addis Ababa University, are thanked for excellent help and company in the field. The herbarium ETH and the College of Natural Science, Addis Ababa University, are acknowledged for logistic support during and after the field work. We also wish to thank Paulo van Breugel for the dataset used in the modelling of species distribution and Victoria Cicely Gordon Friis for preparing the drawings for Fig. 4 and 6, as well as for her help with the dissections, analyses and descriptions of anthocarps, fruits, seeds and embryos of both species.


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Copyright information

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biosystematics, Natural History Museum of DenmarkUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens, KewSurreyUK
  3. 3.The National Herbarium, Department of Plant Biology and BiodiversityAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia

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