Member of SCNAT

Under the umbrella of the SSS, biologists from different fields are dedicated to the interests of systematics and taxonomy. The SSS serves as a competent contact for the scientists and the society, and maintains an international exchange.more

Image: C.Schüssler, stock.adobe.commore

A small rare tree of Madagascar, species of the year 2019

Every year, more than a hundred new species are described by researchers working in Swiss institutions. Most of them are insects, the group with the highest biodiversity, but new plants are also discovered. They often live in remote and hard-to-reach places.

Capurodendron sahafariense
Image: F. Ratovoson

This is the case for the species chosen by the SSS this year, Capurodendron sahafariense, a small tree described by researchers from the Conservatory and Botanical Garden of the City of Geneva. It is found only in a few small dry forests, spared within forty square kilometers of degraded grasslands in northern Madagascar. His ecology is still very poorly known. Like all species of the genus, its small nectariferous flowers are probably pollinated by insects. With its five ridges, however, its fruit is atypical in a group from the dense rain forest where fleshy fruits dispersed by animals are the rule. It could be related to wind dispersal, which is more advantageous in forests where trees lose their leaves depending on the season. Just discovered, this species is already considered critically endangered because of its scarcity! Unfortunately, this is often the case for species with a very small distribution area reduced by human activities. The destruction of natural habitats, especially tropical forests, destroys many species before they are described by scientists.


  • Botany
  • Systematics


Dr Alice Cibois
Muséum d'histoire naturelle de la ville de Genève (Muséum d'histoire naturelle (GE))
route de Malagnou 1
1208 Genève