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NEW PLANTS SPECIES FROM SARAWAK, BORNEO

on 07 Disember 2010.

19 new plant species described in Sarawak by researchers from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)

Borneo was claimed by many as one of the centre for plant diversity. Estimation of flowering plants in the whole of Borneo gave an astonishing range of 10,000 to 12,000 species, which is equivalent to about 6% of the world total. Also, it was estimated that 50 - 60% of these numbers is restricted to this island. The many botanical excursions which were conducted in Sarawak since 1880s had discovered many new species with cumulative estimation of two new species per day.

And since the establishment of the Faculty of Resourse Science and Technology in UNIMAS in 1993, the researchers at UNIMAS has gone on to discover various new species, and in the last five years alone, they have described 19 new species in Sarawak. The researchers are Meekiong Kalu, Isa Bin Ipor and Cheksum Tawan. Among the described is Alpinia epiphytica, the only species in the genus so far recorded with epiphytic habit and was discovered at Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary.

Another species, strictly restricted to Borneo is Costus eburneus which so far, is only recorded from one isolated limestone area in Bau. Two Begonia sp, Begonia hidiri and Begonia kurakura were discovered at Gunung Murud and Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, respectively. The latter named for the shape of its leaves which resemble tortoise shell and are apparently consumed by this shell creature.

List of new species described (2005 - 2010).

1. Alpinia epiphytica Meekiong, Ipor & Tawan, Heart of Borneo Series: Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary - Sarawak Hidden Jewel (2010).

This unique new species is the only species in the genus so far recorded with epiphytic habit. The type specimen of this species is from Nanga Tekalit, Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, and by far is considered as hyper-endemic to that area.

2. Boesenbergia latongensis Meekiong & H. Ibrahim, Heart of Borneo Series: Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary - Sarawak Hidden Jewel (2010).

This species is allies to Boesenbergia oligosperma with having thick leaves and yellow flowers but can be differentiated by flower morphological. One of among five new gingers species discovered during the Scientific Expedition to Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary.

3. Begonia hidiri Tawan, Ipor & Meekiong, Folia Malaysiana vol. 10(1): 48 (2009).

This hairy cane-like begonia was first discovered during the UNIMAS Scientific Expedition to Gunung Murud in 2003 by Hidir Marzuki. This species is unique among the member of Section Petermannia as it produced separated male and female flowers from different nodes.

4. Begonia kurakura Tawan, Ipor & Meekiong, Folia Malaysiana vol. 10(1):50 (2009).

This species has unique epithet name, kurakura (tortoise) as the shaped of leaves was look-liked a tortoise shell and the leaves also eaten by them. This tufted begonia discovered during the Scientific Expedition in Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary.

5. Costus bullatus Meekiong, Muliati & Ipor, Folia Malaysiana vol. 7(1&2): 65 (2006).

This dwarf Costus species is belong to the Section Paracostus and confined to the limestone area. The distribution of this species is very localized to small limestone area in Bau and considered as hyper-endemic. The epithet name is referring to the bullate leaves, which is unique in the genus.

6. Costus eburneus Meekiong, Muliati & Tawan, Folia Malaysiana vol. 7(1&2): 66 (2006).

This species closely similar to Costus bullatus by having bullate leaves and producing flowers on the node but can be distinguished by the flower morphological. This species is also a hyper-endemic species, which so far recorded from one isolated limestone area in Bau.

7. Costus muluensis Meekiong, Ipor & Tawan, Folia Malaysiana, vol. 7 (1&2): 60 (2006).

The type specimen of this species was collected from the base of Gunung Api, Mulu National Park. Another dwarf species belong to the Section Paracostus that very well distributed in Sarawak.

8. Costus mulus Meekiong, Ipor & Tawan, Rheedea 18: 87-89 (2008).

This species was discovered during the consultation works in Tutuh in 2004. The inflorescence is terminal on separated leafless shoot, flower white with yellow band on the central tip of labellum and also the presence of purple blotches on the tip of sepal.

9. Musa bauensis Hakkinen & Meekiong, Systematics and Biodiversity 2(2): 170 (2005).

This new wild banana is a limestone specialist and so far recorded from Bau and Serain limestone area. Musa bauensis is not closely related to any other Musa species with having cream-coloured male flowers that remaining shriveled on the rachis.

10. Musa borneensis Becc. var. alutacea Hakkinen & Meekiong, Acta Phytotaxonomica et Geobotanica vol.56(3):220 (2005).

A new variety of Musa borneensis described based on specimen collected from UNIMAS, Kota Samarahan. This variety can be differentiated from other by having leathery yellow bract of male bud and also producing red-purple sap.

11. Musa borneensis Becc. var. flavida (M. Hotta) Hakkinen & Meekiong, Acta Phytotaxonomica et Geobotanica vol.56(3):218 (2005).

The variety was changed it status from a species to variety of Musa borneensis due to similarity of morphological and anatomical.

12. Musa borneensis Becc. var. lutea Hakkinen & Meekiong, Acta Phytotaxonomica et Geobotanica vol.56(3):222 (2005).

The type specimen of this variety was collected from Crocker Range, Sabah. This variety also encountered in Lawas, Sarawak.

13. Musa borneensis Becc. var. phoenicea Hakkinen & Meekiong, Acta Phytotaxonomica et Geobotanica vol.56(3):223 (2005).

The type specimen of this variety was collected from Serian. This variety can be distinguished from other varieties by having watery red-purple sap, rounded male bud and pink-purple bract of male bud.

14. Musa borneensis Becc. var. sarawakensis Hakkinen & Meekiong, Acta Phytotaxonomica et Geobotanica vol.56(3):224 (2005).

This variety is the most common variety, can be found throughout Sarawak with wide range of habitat and soil types.

15. Musa juwiniana Meekiong, Ipor & Tawan, Folia Malaysiana vol. 9(2): 110 (2008).

The species is an allies to Musa campestris and Musa voonii but differ by having biserrate fruits and also biserrate male flower. This species is common by the roadside on the northern east of Sarawak, and the type specimen was collected from Lapok, just outside boundary of Loagan Bunut National Park.

16. Musa sakaiana Meekiong, Ipor & Tawan, Folia Malaysiana vol. 6(3&4): 132 (2005).

Another new species discovered during the Scientific Expedition to Gunung Murud. This epithet name of this wild banana is given after YB Dr Judson Sakai Tagal, who tragically dead in helicopter crash near the Gunung Murud. This species is unique among the Bornean species with having pendulous fruit bunch and parallel hands.

17. Plagiostachys altistachya Meekiong & C.K. Lim, Heart of Borneo Series: Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary - Sarawak Hidden Jewel (2010).

This unusual Plagiostachys easily recognized by having inflorescence near to terminal leafy shoot. The flowers are small, with parallel reddish stripes on the labellum. The type specimen of this species was collected from Nanga Joh, Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary.

18. Scaphochlamys iporii Meekiong, Heart of Borneo Series: Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary - Sarawak Hidden Jewel (2010).

This dwarf ginger species is named after Isa Ipor, who first discovered the plant during the Reece for Scientific Expedition to Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary in 2008. This one-leaf species can be recognized by having white lilac flower and hairy corolla lobe.

19. Scaphochlamys salahuddiniana Meekiong, Heart of Borneo Series: Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary - Sarawak Hidden Jewel (2010).

The type species of the species was collected from Gunung Sepali, Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, lithophytes on alluvial soils. This one-leaf species easily recognize by having heart-shaped leaf and deeply bilobed labellum.

Extracted from The R&D Magazine.

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