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Gesneriaceae Treasures - Vietnam’s Newest Finds

01 April 2024
In recent years, several new species of flowering plants have been discovered in Vietnam, particularly in the far north and the Central Highlands region. Notably, four Gesneriaeae species have been uncovered, namely, lithophytic Allocheilos villosus with dense hairs covering on all parts of the plant, Didymocarpus tamdaoensis which is only known from one collection made at Tam Dao National Park, Didymocarpus dalatensis with downy stems and white tubular flowers, and Loxostigma vietnamensis which is endemic to the montane forest of Vietnam. These discoveries deepen our understanding of Vietnam’s rich biodiversity.

Identifying Pathogenic Fungi to Protect Mature Trees

03 March 2024
A collaboration between NParks and researchers across Singapore has identified pathogenic fungi that attack mature trees in our urban landscape. The DNA sequence of tissue samples from trees with rot, the fungal fruiting bodies and surrounding soil were analysed for unique patterns associated to individual fungal species. By comparing the results with healthy trees, 17 fungal species that cause root and trunk rot in commonly planted tree species were identified. This information leads the way for development of early detection and intervention tools of fungal disease in trees.

Palm with underground flowers and fruits

06 February 2024
Botanists discovered a most unusual palm that flowers and fruits completely underground! <i>Pinanga subterranea</i> is believed to be pollinated by beetles and seed dispersal is aided by wild boars. The palm was first noticed in Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, Sarawak by a Malaysian botanist in the late 1990s. A team of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew later found the palm growing abundantly in the same area in 2018. While this finding has only been recently published, the fruit is a common part of the diet of the indigenous people. This shows the importance of the knowledge of indigenous people in supporting and enriching scientific information.

Two extant orchid species in Singapore

02 January 2024
Herbarium specimens of Dendrobium singaporense and Bulbophyllum gusdorfii collected nearly 30 years ago in 2001 and 1993 respectively, were uncovered in the herbarium of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore. The local conservation status of these species are currently extinct and these herbarium specimens suggests that it should be reconsidered to extant. However, without any current wild sightings, the species will again cross the threshold to being presumed nationally extinct, as any species not seen in the wild for 30 years is categorized as nationally extinct in Singapore.

The Mystery of an Unknown Kopsia

07 December 2023
In recent years, a pink-flowered <i>Kopsia</i> species was found to be in cultivation in Singapore. It was also observed in regional plant markets and has gained popularity as a free flowering, landscape shrub. Despite extensive research, field botanists have not been able to locate this elusive species in the wild. Its unique dark pink corolla and narrow corolla lobes distinguish it from other <i>Kopsia</i> species. This new species is now recognised as <i>Kopsia obscura</i> to reflect its currently unknown origins.