With the supported of the US National Science Foundation and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, a rare and endangerous fern, Isoetes hypsophila, was discovered by a Sino-US research team headed by Prof. SUN Hang from the CAS Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) and Dr. David E. Boufford from Harvard University in a recent trip to Jiulong, Sichuan, during its botanical survey in the Hengduan Mountains in south China. Scientists say the plant is found for the first time in the region.
According to researchers, it is one of the four species of Isoetes, a genus of primitive vascular plants classified in the subdivision Lycopsida. The other three are: I. sinensis, I. yunguiensis, and I. taiwanensis. They occupy a very important niche in the evolutionary history of the pteridophytes.
In recent years, Isoetes has declined rapidly in population quantity (number) and has even disappeared from many locations in mainland China. The genus is now considered to be rare or endangered in China and is listed in the first category of protected plants.
Isoetes hypsophila is distributed in alpine wetlands, lakes and swamp meadows in the northwest part of Yunnan Province and southwest part of Sichuan Province at 3,500 meters above the sea level. Its discovery is of significance for the studies of biodiversity in the Hengduan Mountains, the evolutionary development of Isoetes and its protection.