Saturday, 6 May 2017

Garcinia hopii: A new species of Mangosteen from Vietnam.

Mangosteens, or Monkey Fruit, Garcinia spp., are shrubs or small trees found across the lowland tropics of Asia, Africa and Australia, related to Willows, Cocoa Plants and Violets. The groups contains a large number of species, though many of these have a very limited distribution, and many species are threatened by habitat destruction, with at least one species thought to have become extinct already. The plants produce edible fruit which are eaten by a variety of animals, including in many cases Humans.

In a paper published in the journal PhytoKeys on 28 February 2017, Hironori Toyama of the Centre for Asian Conservation Ecology at Kyushu University, Van-Son Dang of the National Herbarium of the Vietnam Academy of Sciences and Technology, Shuichiro Tagane, also of the Centre for Asian Conservation Ecology at Kyushu University, Ngoc Van Nguyen, again of the Centre for Asian Conservation Ecology at Kyushu University, and of the Department of Biology at Dalat University, Akiyo Naiki of the Tropical Biosphere Research Centre of the University of the Ryukyus, Hidetoshi Nagamasu of the Kyoto University Museum, and Tetsukazu Yahara once again of the Centre for Asian Conservation Ecology at Kyushu University, describe a new species of Mangosteen from the Bidoup Nui Ba National Park in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam.

The new species is named Garcinia hopii, in honour of Hop Tran of the University of Science Ho Chi Minh City, who collected the first known specimens of the plant. It is a small evergreen tree reaching 10 m in height, with pale grey or brown bark, large dark green leaves on reddish green stems, and dark red flowers that turn green as they age.

Garcinia hopii. (A) Branch with leaves. (B) Abaxial surface of leaf. (C) Trunk. (D) Latex. (E) Staminate flower buds. (F) Staminate flower. (G) Pistillate flower and buds. (H) Pistillate flower. (I) Pistillate flower, some tepals removed. (J) Immature fruits. (A)–(C) Photographed on 22 January 2015, (E) photographed on 19 November 2014, (D), (F)–(I) photographed on 27 February 2016, (J) photographed on 24 April 2015. Toyama et al. (2017).

The species was found growing in moist evergreen forests dominated by Oak, Podocarp and Neolitsea trees. It has been found only in the Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, but there appeared to be a large reproducing population, and the park is well protected, so Toyama et al. recommend that the plant be assessed as Least Concern under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

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