A new species of the Arum family, Amorphophallus mirabilis, has recently been discovered in Myanmar. The Arum family, also known as Araceae, is composed of terrestrial or aquatic shrubs, vines, or herbs, and the genus Amorphophallus consists of about 200 tuberous herbs found in tropical and subtropical regions.
The discovery of this new species came about when a local plant enthusiast found an unknown Amorphophallus species flowering in Hpa-an District, Kayin State in May and June 2023. Intrigued by the finding, the enthusiast sent samples to a researcher in Myanmar.
After thorough examination of the morphology and comparison with protologues, relevant literature, and digitized type specimens of Amorphophallus from Myanmar and neighboring countries, researchers from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators confirmed that the collected specimens represented a previously unknown species.
The newly discovered species has been named Amorphophallus mirabilis due to its striking foliage. The finding has been published in the Nordic Journal of Botany.
Amorphophallus mirabilis is a seasonally dormant herb. It shares similarities with A. dzui, found in northern Vietnam, but it can be differentiated by its longer peduncle, a pale purplish-brown spathe on the outside, light chestnut brown on the inside basal half, and a densely covered upper half with fleshy, irregularly shaped warts. The upper half of the spathe is yellowish green, and the stigmas are either whole or transversely bilabiate.
Currently, Amorphophallus mirabilis is only known to exist in the Hpa-an District, Kayin State, Myanmar. It was found in the karst limestone forest, growing in a crack of a moist sandstone rock under a closed to semi-open canopy of seasonal rainforest or dry evergreen forest, at an elevation of about 100 meters above sea level.
In addition to the discovery of Amorphophallus mirabilis, researchers conducting ongoing work on the taxonomy of the Araceae family in Myanmar also made a significant record of Amorphophallus napalensis. This tuberous geophytic plant had never been reported in Myanmar before, and its presence represents an important expansion of its geographical distribution. It was found growing along the roadsides and trails of Mt. Victoria in Myanmar.
With the discovery of Amorphophallus mirabilis and Amorphophallus napalensis, Myanmar now boasts a total of 17 known Amorphophallus species. This finding not only contributes to our understanding of the biodiversity of Myanmar but also emphasizes the importance of continued research and conservation efforts in the region.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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