A “new” species of coffee from Australia

by on April 28, 2011

Media outlets have picked up on a story about a new species of coffee, Coffea brassii, from Australia. In fact, this isn’t a new species, but a plant that has recently been reclassified by taxonomists from the genus Psilanthus. A number of species in that genus have moved around the genera Coffea, Paracoffea, and Psilanthus over the years. This latest reclassification to Coffea comes after recent molecular studies of dried herbarium material and includes five other Psilanthus. The work was part of project to sequence the DNA of the coffee family being conducted at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The range of Coffea brassii is northeastern Australia and Papua New Guinea, making it the only known Coffea native to Australia. It grows in monsoon forest, deciduous monsoon scrublands, and stabilized dunes at 15 to 150 meters. It is not kept in cultivation and little is known about it, so there are apparently plans to collect living specimens in Australia. The location is in northern Queensland, west of Cooktown, near Laura.

Here are some photos of other one of the other Psilanthus species being moved (P. bengalensis).

References:

Davis, A. P. 2010. Six species of Psilanthus transferred to Coffea (Coffeeae, Rubiaceae). Phytotaxa 10: 41–45

Davis, A. P. 2003. A new combination in Psilanthus (Rubiaceae) for Australasia, and nomenclatural notes on Paracoffea. Novon 13: 182-184.

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Revised on March 23, 2014

Posted in Coffee news and miscellany

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