The project under way to eliminate invasive species of plants being carried out in the micro-reserve at Punta de La Glea – in Aguamarina area, next to Cabo Roig – has resulted in the discovery of an endangered plant. More than 113 examples of Launaea lanifera ( woolly lechuguino) a plant classified as endangered in the Valencian Community are blossoming on the local cliffs.
This micro-reserve of flora and fauna is already of undoubted botanical interest, since it houses the largest peninsular population of a number of species classed as ‘of Community Interest’ that are included on the Red List and considered ‘vulnerable’, such as the Cat’s Head Jar (Helianthemum caput-felis).
However, due to its proximity to coastal urban developments, the micro-reserve has been colonised by several pockets of invasive alien species that threatened the habitat of the protected flora. To control its expansion, the Department of the Environment has contracted a professional elimination of the unwanted plants.
The plant has not been since in this area since 1966 and was re-discovered by José Antonio López Espinosa, an expert botanist.
Councillor for the Environment, Dámaso Aparicio said: “One-hundfed-and-thirteen individual examples of the species have been counted so far, which represents at least 40 percent of the Valencian population, since there is one other population nucleus in Aspe of 17 specimens and another of similar size in Orihuela in the Sierra de Crevillente.”
The municipal biologist supervising the works to eliminate any invasive flora, Gonzalo Escudero explained the considerable importance of the find.
He said: “This plant is among the ones to look for as outlined in the ‘Flora del Término Municipal de Orihuela Vol II’ issued by the Orihuela City Council. Finding it demonstrates the importance of the fight against these invasive alien plants. If the Acacia sp. and other exotic species weren’t removed the population of Launaea lanifera would probably have been greatly affected.”