Monday 26 January 2015

A new species of Rhododendron from Guizhou Province, China.

Rhododendrons, Rhododendron spp., are a large group of flowering shrubs and trees found in East and Southeast Asia and across Indonesia to northern Australia, and widely introduced elsewhere as ornamentals (some species having become highly invasive pests). They are a specious group, with over a thousand described species, including over 570 species from China.

In a paper published in the journal Phytotaxa on 23 January 2015, Yongpeng Ma of the Kunming Botanical Garden at the Kunming Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, David Chamberlain of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and Weibang Sun and Changqin Zhang, also of the Kunming Botanical Garden, describe a new species of Rhododendron from the Baili Rhododendron Nature Reserve in northwest Guizhou Province, China.

The Baili Rhododendron Nature Reserve covers about 130 km2 of highland terrain with a flora dominated by Rhododendrons. About 35 species have previously been recorded from the reserve, but the status of many of these is unclear, and it is thought that this total includes several hybrids. In 2013 the reserve asked for help from taxonomists at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Kunming Institute of Botany to help clarify the status of its Rhododendrons.

The new species is named Rhododendron bailiense, meaning ‘from Baili’. It is a small evergreen tree, reaching 3-4 m in height, with ovate leaves. It produces pale violet flowers, four cm in diameter, in clusters of 2-8 in March and April.

Rhododendron bailiense, inflorescence and leaf. Ma et al. (2014).

The species has only been found at two locations, on limestone karst outcrops at altitudes of 1800 m and 2100 m. As such it is tentatively considered to be Endangered under the terms of the International Union for theConservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, however it is possible that larger, undiscovered populations of the plant also exist.

See also…
The origin of the ‘King of Flowers’.
The Domestic Tree Peony, Paeonia suffruticosa, has a long history of cultivation in China, where records of the plant growing in gardens go back at least 1400 years. Domestic Tree Peonies are noted for their beauty and fragrance, and are known as the ‘King of Flowers’ in... Freckled Cypripedium classified as Endangered.                                                    The International Union for the Conservation of Nature published its annual update of its Red List of Threatened Species on Thursday 12 June 2014, marking the 50th year of the list's existence, and revising the status of a number of Plant and Animal species from around the...
A new species of Thismia from northwest Yunnan Province, China.
Thismias (Thismiaceae) are a small group of Parasitic Plants found throughout the tropics, with a few temperate species known from North America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. They parasitize the Mycorrhizal Fungi with which all vascular plants have a relationship, but where other plants exchange sugars produced by photosynthesis for nutrients obtained from the soil by the Fungi, Thismias...

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