Thursday 27 March 2014

A new species of Hydrangea from Mexico and Central America.

Hydrangeas are perennial woody plants related to Dogwoods and Silkleafs. Most species form small shrubs, but some grow to tree sizes, and there are some lianas (woody vines) in the group. Hydrangeas are most abundant and diverse in eastern Asia, but they are found as far west as the Himalayas, and also throughout the Americas. Most Hydrangeas have white flowers, but some species produce pink or blue flowers in response to changes in soil pH, a trait which has made them popular with gardeners. As such they have been introduced to many parts of the world beyond their home ranges, in some places, most notably the Azores, becoming destructive invasive species.

In a paper published in the journal Phytotaxa on 17 March 2014, Marie-Stéphanie Semain of the  Instituto de Ecología of the Centro Regional del Bajío in Mexico and the Research Group on Spermatophytes at the Department of Biology at the University of Gent, Francisco Hernández Najarro of the Herbario of the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente e Historia Natural and Esteban Manuel Martínez Salas of the Herbario Nacional de México at the Departmento de Botánica at the Instituto de Biologica at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México describe a new species of Hydrangea from Mexico and Central America.

The new species is given the name Hydrangea albostellata, a reference to the white hairs present on the leaves and flowering stems of the plant. It is a climbing liana reaching 35 m in height, with male and female flowers born on separate plants. Hydrangea albostella is found in cloud forests at altitudes of between 1200  and 2300 m from Chiapas State in southeastern Mexico through Central America as far as Costa Rica.

Branch of
Hydrangea albostellata with four inflorescences, all inflorescence bracts already shed in lower right one where the flower buds are visible, lower left inflorescence partially opened, apical inflorescences still covered by all inflorescence bracts. Semain et al. (2014).

Climbing a 
Hydrangea host tree with specific equipment (note, the Hydrangea is the vine on the tree, not the tree being climbed). Samain et al. (2014).

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