Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A new coffee tree: Sommera cusucoana

During an ecological survey of montane rain forest vegetation in Cusuco National Park in Honduras researchers from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland discovered a new coffee tree species. Only two individual trees were located, about the same size and within a few feet of each other.

The species belongs to the genus Sommera and is a 10 m high tree with cream-colored flowers and red, cherry-like fruits. Sommera is a small genus comprising 10 species of shrubs or small trees ranging from southwestern Mexico through Central America to South America.

The species name honors the Cusuco National Park in which it was found by the Operation Wallacea Forest Botany team.

For the experts: Sommera cusucoana Lorence, D. Kelly & A. Dietzsch, sp. nov., (Rubiaceae), a new species from Honduras, differs from the other Mesoamerican Sommera species by the combination of large, obovate leaves with long red petioles, glabrous or glabrate intervenal areas, red stipules, lax, sparsely pubescent inflorescences with red axes, flowers with red hypanthium and calyx, long fruiting pedicels, and dark red mature fruits. It is known only from the type locality in Cusuco National Park.

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