Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A new tree: Polyceratocarpus askhambryan-iringae

The custard apple family Annonaceae consists of about 2500 mostly tropical species. Many species are valued for their large pulpy fruits, some are exploited for timber, and others are known as ornamentals. The family consists of trees, shrubs, and woody climbers found mainly in the tropics, although a few species extend into temperate regions.

Our new species from the genus Polyceratocarpus is endemic to the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania and was named by Askham Bryan College and Iringa International School as part of a rainforest education program.

For the experts: Polyceratocarpus askhambryan-iringae, an endemic tree species of Annonaceae from the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, is described and illustrated. The new species is identified as a member of the genus Polyceratocarpus by the combination of staminate and bisexual flowers, axillary inflorescences, subequal outer and inner petals, and multi-seeded monocarps with pitted seeds. From P. scheffleri, with which it has previously been confused, it differs in the longer pedicels, smaller and thinner petals, shorter bracts, and by generally smaller, less curved monocarps that have a clear stipe and usually have fewer seeds. Because P. askhambryan-iringae has a restricted extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, and ongoing degradation of its forest habitat, we recommend classification of it as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.

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