Ever Wonder How New Species Get Their Name?Many researchers go their entire careers in search of unique and never before documented species of plants or wildlife and consider it an honor when these newly discovered species are named after them. For Ana Lilia Reina-Guererro this has not only happened once, but 5 times! The wife of our very own researcher, Thomas R. Van Devender, Ana Lilia has played a vital role in all of our research expeditions. Her keen knowledge of plants has proven invaluable to our greater understanding of plant life in the Sky Island region of Sonora.
In April 2014, 55 botanists, entomologists, herpetologists, and ornithologists, as well as agency biologists, photographers, journalists, and college students from the United States and Mexico went on a biological Expedition sponsored by GreaterGood.org and Sky Island Alliance to the Sierra Huérfana (also called the Sierra de Mazatán). Over a thousand records of plants and animals were made to help establish the mountain as a federally-protected natural area in the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (the Mexican Park Service) system.
In July, a smaller group of researchers including Ana Lilia returned to that same area to observe plant and wildlife during the monsoon season. While on that second expedition, Ana Lilia found a shrub with hairy leaves and small flowers in Cañada el Yuguito. Specimens were sent to Dr. Bruno Wallnöfer, a botanist in Vienna, Austria, who is working on a monograph on the Diospyros of the world. This group of over 700 species are mostly native to the tropics of the world, where they are called persimmon. In the fall of 2015, he described it as a new species Diospyros reinae in the German botanical journal Stapfia — named for Ana Lilia!