[Science News] - A new liverwort species discovered in Hawaii, Kahakuloa operculispora, in a new genus and family

Mon 12 Feb

An international team of bryophyte scientists, including a researcher from Meise Botanic Garden, has recently published a very unusual new species of liverworts, Kahakuloa operculispora, from Hawaii. 

Evidence from scanning electron microscopy, light microscopy and molecular analysis showed that the new species does not fit in any known family or genus and  represents a new genus, Kahakuloa, in the new bryophyte family Kahakuloaceae.  The name of the new genus derives from the location where it was discovered, the species name (“operculispora“) refers to its very unusual spore characters, not seen in any other bryophyte.

The discovery of a new genus, let alone new family, is a rare event in the biological sciences. Although being rich in endemic species and genera, with almost 90% of the Hawaiian native plant species occurring only in Hawaii, there is no other plant family endemic to the region. The new discovery confirms the extraordinary richness of the biodiversity of Hawaii and its importance for nature conservation.    


Freire A.V., Judziewicz E.J., Cargill D.C., Forrest L.L., Gradstein S.R., Pezzillo Z., Oppenheimer H.L., Pezzillo Z . & Sepsenwol S. 2023. Kahakuloa operculospora, a new Hawaiian species of simple thalloid liverworts in a new genus and family, Kahakuloaceae (order Fossombroniales). Bryophyte Diversity and Evolution 46: 10–34.