A NEW species of dandelion has been found growing on a remote island.

The plant was discovered when seeds were collected two years ago on Hirta in the St Kilda archipelago, 41 miles west of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.

After the seeds were propagated at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), the small size and hairy exterior bracts on the flower bud led botanists to believe it was a new species of the Asteraceae plant family.

The newly discovered dandelion has been named the Taraxacum pankhurstianum after Richard Pankhurst, a retired RBGE staff member.

When Mr Pankhurst heard that a group of botanists was travelling to the area for a survey in June 2010 he asked Jim McIntosh, of the Botanical Society of the British Isles, to collect any dandelion seed he saw.

Mr McIntosh, the society's co-ordinator for Scotland, collected seeds from four plants.

The new dandelion was named by Professor James Richards who saw the species and recognised that it was new. It now features in the latest edition of the New Journal of Botany.

Mr Pankhurst, who was involved in its culture, said it is an honour to have the plant named after him. "St Kilda is known to have two endemic species of mice and a wren, and we know it has a dandelion too," he said.

It is thought the plant, much smaller than the common species, could have been brought to St Kilda by birds or Vikings.