Michael Dosmann, the Arboretum’s keeper of living collections, said the find adds to the long list of species whose discovery is linked to the Arboretum’s work. Over its nearly 150-year history, Arboretum researchers have discovered numerous species as they’ve traveled in search of specimens to add to its 16,000 living plants and 1.5 million herbarium specimens.

Relatively few species have been discovered on the grounds of the Arboretum itself, but those discoveries are not unknown. In 2016, a postdoc at Harvard’s Farlow Herbarium discovered a new species of truffle fungus, Tuber arnoldianum, living symbiotically among tree roots, and in 2018, researchers there discovered that an evergreen hemlock — already part of the collection — was in fact a new species, Tsuga ulleungensis, native to an island off South Korea’s east coast.

The most recent find, Dosmann said, highlights how little we still know about biodiversity, even in places as well-trod and well-studied as Arnold Arboretum. Dosmann said that finding a new species used to mean taking a plane, then a boat, a train, a bus, and a horse to reach untouched wilderness, but as our understanding of the micro-environment grows, as humans continually alter the landscape, and as the climate affecting known ecosystems shifts, the idea of “novel ecosystems” — and the biodiversity it promotes — comes closer and closer to home.

“What we’ve written down is a moon-cast shadow to what exists,” Dosmann said. “It does make you wonder: What are we going to find tomorrow?”