Tuesday 14 January 2014

A new species of Melastome from the central Dominican Republic.

Melastomes (Melastomataceae) are broad-leaved flowering plants found across the tropics, and occasionally elsewhere. They are related to Pomegranates, Myrtles and Evening Primroses. Melastomes can be herbs, shrubs or small trees. Some members of the group have become notorious invasive species, notably Koster's Curse (Clidemia hirta) a shrub native to Central America and the Caribbean that has become a pest species in Hawaii, Australia, Sri Lanka and parts of Africa, and the Bush Currant (Miconia calvescens) a small tree from Central and South America, which is regarded as one of the world's most invasive species, forming monospecific stands that have replaced 25% of the surviving rainforest on Tahiti.

In a paper published in the journal Phytotaxa on 13 September 2013, Lukas Majure and Walter Judd, both of the Department of Biology and the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, describe a new species of Melastome from the Cordillera Central of the Dominican Republic.

The new species is placed in the genus Miconia, and given the specific name paralimoides, meaning 'beside limoides'; the species closely resembles Miconia limoides, a species from southern Hispaniola, and is thought to be closely related to it. Miconia paralimoides is an evergreen shrub, 1-3 m in height, with hairy, oval leaves. It produces red flowers and purple berries.

Miconia paralimoides, illustation. Majure & Judd (2013).

Detail of the flower of Miconia paralimoides. Majure & Judd (2013).

Distribution of Miconia paralimoides (black circles) and Miconia limoides (open circles). Majure & Judd (2013).

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