First British species named after Sir David Attenborough

Attenborough's Hawkweed growing on the cliffs of Cribyn in the Brecon Beacons, Powys

In the last decade, the first British species to be named after Sir David Attenborough was found growing in the Brecon Beacons.

Attenborough’s Hawkweed (hieracium attenboroughianum) can be found growing on the rocky ledges of Cribyn, one of the three spectacular peaks of the central Beacons that we look after.  

" I am thrilled that my name has been given to the delightful new species of hawkweed discovered in the Brecon Beacons. Bestowing a name on a new species is surely one of the greatest biological compliments and I am truly grateful "
- Sir David Attenborough

It’s one of a group of closely related plants belonging to the daisy family and probably evolved in the Brecon Beacons since the last ice age. Hawkweeds are close relatives of dandelions and have similar looking flowers. 

It was first studied in 2004 when a team were looking for the rare Summit Hawkweed, which is found on adjacent Pen y Fan. This species was named by Dr Tim Rich, plant taxonomist, something that every naturalist dreams of. He decided to name the plant after Sir David Attenborough as he had inspired him to study ecology when he was 17 and regards it as a personal thank you for the years of fascination. 

More than 300 plants of Attenborough’s Hawkweed were found flowering on the rocky ledges, safe enough from the sheep which graze these mountains. It took ten years of study and comparison with related species to be sure it was indeed a new species.