Friday 9 August 2013

A new species of Cherry from central Zhejiang Province, China.

Cherries are flowering fruit trees in the genus Prunus, members of the Rose Family (Rosaceae), found across much of the Northern Hemisphere, related to Plums, Peaches, Apricots and Almonds. Many species are cultivated, particularly for their fruit but also their wood, which is hard and has a reddish tint and is valued by furniture makers., some species are also grown as ornamentals due to their extensive pink of white blossom. The fruit of a Cherry is technically called a drupe; a fleshy fruit with a single large seed (the stone).

In a paper published in the journal PLoS One on 18 January 2013, a group of scientists led by Zi-Lin Chen of the College of Life & Environment Sciences at Hangzhou Normal University and the Zhejiang Dapanshan National Natural Reserve describe a new species of Cherry discovered growing wild in the Dapanshan Reserve.

The new species is named Prunus pananensis, after Pan’an County, where the Dapanshan reserve is located. It is a deciduous tree reaching 8 m in height, having brown bark with grey or white lenticels (breathing pores on the trunk). It's leaves are 4-12 cm in length, and it produces white blossom, which appears in spring before the leaves. The fruit os red or black. The identity of the tree as a new species was confirmed by DNA analysis. 

Black (top) and red (bottom) fruit of Prunus pananensis. Scale bars are 1 cm. Chen et al. (2013).

Blossom of Prunus pananensis. Scale bars are 2 cm (C) and 1 cm (D). Chen et al. (2013).

Bark on the trunk of Prunus pananensis. Chen et al. (2013).

The approximate location of the Zhejiang Dapanshan National Nature Reserve. Google Maps.

The Huaxi Valley in the Zhejiang Dapanshan National Nature Reserve, where Prunus pananensis was discovered. Chen et al. (2013).

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