Tuesday 23 April 2013

Two new species of Gesneriad from Thailand.

The Gesneriads are a diverse group of tropical and sub-tropical flowering plants, mostly herbaceous in nature, but with a few woody members growing up to small-tree sized. They are found throughout the tropics, but are probably most diverse in Southeast Asia and Indonesia. There are over 3000 described species.

In a paper published in the Thai Forest Bulletin in November 2012, David Middleton of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and Pramote Triboun of the Bangkok Herbarium describe a new species of Gesneriad from Phangnga and Ranong Provinces in Thailand.

The plants are placed in a new genus, Somrania, named in honour of Somran Suddee of the Forest Herbarium Bangkok.

The first new plant is given the specific name albiflora, meaning white-petalled. Somrania albiflora is a  small herbaceous flowering plant, reaching 20 cm in height, covered in dense hairs with white bell-shaped flowers. It was found growing on limestone cliffs in Ngao Waterfall National Park in Ranong Province, close to the border with Myanmar.

Line drawing of Somrania albiflora. Scale bar is 1 cm. Middleton & Triboun 2012.

Photograph of Somrania albifloraMiddleton & Triboun 2012.

The second plant is given the specific name lineata, or 'lined'; the flowers are white with orange-brown lines on their inner surface. Somrania lineata is similar to Somrania albiflora but less densely hairy and with lines on the inner surface of its petals. It was found growing on limestone rocks in Sra Nang Manohra Waterfall Forest Park in Phangnga Province, Thailand.

Somrania lineataMiddleton & Triboun 2012.

The conservation status of these plants is unclear; both are known from single locations with high tourist numbers and corresponding disturbance, but may also be found elsewhere. It is quite likely that Somrania albiflora grows in Myanmar as well as in Thailand.

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