The color variation of Impatiens jacobdevlasii flowers: White, light purple, light pink, and deep purple. Images courtesy of Bhathiya Gopallawa.

Scientists often compete with each other to make discoveries, but three botanists in Sri Lanka found another way to make a discovery. The three teamed up to discover a new plant species in the Knuckles mountain range of central Sri Lanka.

In 2016, botanists Champika Bandara and Sanath Bandara Herath explored plants along a stream in the Dothalugala area of the Knuckles mountains. They spotted a purple flower that neither of them had ever seen before. Some time later another botanist, Bhathiya Gopallawa, found the same purple flower on a different trail in the mountains about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away.

The three botanists compared notes. They realized that the purple flower they all found was a species that had not yet been discovered and described by science. The purple flower they found is a type of impatiens. 


The team of friends wrote a scientific paper describing the flower and named it Impatiens jacobdevlasii, after Jacob de Vlas, a Dutch botanist who co-authored an Illustrated field guide to the flowers of Sri Lanka with his wife, Johanna. There are more than one thousand known species of impatiens – 25 different impatiens are found in Sri Lanka.

Dutch biologist Jacob de Vlas. Image courtesy of Bhathiya Gopallawa.

The three friends who discovered the new impatiens species hope that they can work together to discover even more new plants. “Both of the other researchers are my good friends and we do not compete among each other,” said Bhathiya Gopallawa.  He added that the community of young botanists in Sri Lanka is a close-knit family and shares information about new findings, so that they can continue bringing new discoveries like this to the rest of the world.

This Wild News story is modified from an article by Malaka Rodrigo published on Read the original here: