It's an uncommon Valentine from a veteran West Conn biological and environmental sciences professor. Tom Philbrick has been researching and studying aquatic flowering plants, and discovered a number of newly identified species during his field studies in Central and South America.
The Newtown resident recently discovered a riverweed species from Brazil, and named it in honor of his wife Paula, a biologist and faculty member at UConn-Waterbury. Philbrick says only another biologist would be so touched by a new species being named for them. He says Paula continues to be one of his most trusted scientific advisers.
Rhyncholacis paulana was found last year while Philbrick explored a small stream about the size of the Still River in Danbury. The stream in Amapá, Brazil, just north of the mouth of the Amazon River, flows under a bridge next to a small farm. The plant is common, covering outcrops throughout the stream. There are 20 or so genera of this family in South America, but distinguished itself by its simple pinnately lobed leaf, which is fleshy and undulate.
Philbrick has named 10 to 15 new plant species during his career.