Sunday 24 June 2012

New species of Pipewort from Brazil.

Pipeworts (Eriocaulaceae) are herbaceous plants related to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes. They are found throughout the world, but are most abundant in the American tropics. They favor moist or wet soils and occasionally grow in shallow water.

In a paper published in the journal Phytotaxa on 4 January 2012, Nancy Hensold of the Department of Botany at the The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Adriana Luiza Oliveira of Pós Graduação em Ciências Biológicas (Botânica) at Museu Nacional/UFRJ and Ana Maria Giulietti of Pós Graduação em Botânica at the Departamento de Ciências Biológicas at the Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana describe a new species of Pipewort from coastal broadleaf forests (restingas) in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro States, Brazil.

Map of coastal southern Brazil, showing the locations where the new plant was discovered. Hensold et al. (2012).

The new species is placed in the genus Syngonanthus, and given the specific name restingensis, referring to the environment in which it was found. It is a 10-20 cm grassy plant growing in clumps, with erect inflorescences bering rosettes of cream coloured flowers. Synogonanthus restingensis is also capable of reproducing viviparously, with new plants forming on the tips of the inflorescences, which then bend over to touch the ground; this is a habit seen in other members of the Eriocaulaceae, but not otherwise in the genus Syngonanthus

Syngonanthus restingensis (drawn Renato Moraes). (A) Habit. (B) Detail of leaf apex with hydathode. (C) Mature capitulum showing vivipary. (D) Young capitulum. (E) Involucral bract. (F) Floral bract. (G) Staminate flower. (H) Pistillate flower, with one sepal removed. (I) Gynoecium. Hensold et al. (2012).

Syngonanthus restingensis was found growing in rivulets seasonally flooded sand-dunes and sphagnum mats (sphagnum is type of moss which forms floating mats) in herbaceous or open shrubby restinga at three sites in southern Bahia and Rio de Janeiro States. Two of these sites have subsequently been developed, making it likely that S. restingensis has gone locally extinct, but the third is in the Parque Nacional da Restinga de Jurubatiba in Rio de Janeiro, where the plant can still be observed growing. Because it is found in a limited number of sites in coastal forests highly prone to development, S. restingensis is considered to be Endangered according to IUCN Red List Criteria.

Syngonanthus restingensis. (A) Population at flowering. (B) Detail of habitat showing population on Sphagnum turf. (C) Inflorescences showing early vegetative proliferation (D) Senescent scapes bearing pseudoviviparous rosettes. (E) SEM image of seed. (F) Detail of (E) showing appressed pseudotrichomes. (Photos A–C by Marcelo Fraga Castilhori. Photo D by Adriana Oliveira. Photos E–F by Amanda Veiga). Hensold et al. (2012).

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