Degenia velebitica (no common name in English) is endemic to rocky slopes and screes of Croatia’s Velebit and Kapela mountain ranges. It is a monotypic genus (containing only the one species), therefore the genus occurs nowhere else in the world.
Most narrow-range endemics have some sort of conservation status because of the restricted geographical extent. Indeed, the author of Germination ecology of seeds of endemic species Degenia velebitica (Degen) Hayek (Brassicaceae) (PDF), Dubravka Naumovski, asserts that it has protected status in Europe. However, it is curiously absent from European Red List of Threatened Species.
Whatever its conservation status, the species has been elevated to the level of icon in Croatia. It is the only species to be featured separately in this summary of Croatia’s biogeographical regions. Also, if you are a coin collector, the species is on the back of the 50 lipa.
Diminutive in stature, Degenia velebitica rarely grows beyond 10cm in height (4 in.). The leaves are linear-lanceolate in shape; a careful eye can also see in today’s photograph that the leaves are covered in hairs.
The first documented collection of the species was in July 1907 by Hungarian botanist Árpád von Degen. Degen’s first collections were of plants in fruit. It was two years later before the species was collected in flower, at which time it was assigned to the widely-distributed genus Lesquerella. Hayek moved it into its own genus in 1910: Degenia velebitica.