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Endangered plant species found on Yunnan-Myanmar border

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-05 07:28

Endangered plant species found on Yunnan-Myanmar border

Polyalthia yingjiangensis, a species from the Annonaceae family newly discovered in Yunnan province. [Photo by Ye Decheng/China Daily]

KUNMING-Chinese scientists have discovered a new endangered species of flowering plant from the Annonaceae family.

Polyalthia yingjiangensis, known in Chinese as Yingjiang An Luo, has been named after the place it was discovered: Yingjiang county in Yunnan province.

It belongs to the same botanical family as the custard apple and ylang-ylang, a tree whose fragrant green-yellow flowers are used to distill perfume.

"The discovery enriches the diversity of the area," said Tan Yunhong, a botanist at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden.

Tan and other scientists from the Southeast Asian Biodiversity Research Center and South China Botanical Garden discovered the plant during a field survey in Hongbenghe, close to the China-Myanmar border. They believe the species can also be found in Myanmar.

The Chinese scientists only found 10 plants during the survey in April last year. A paper on the finding co-authored by Tan was recently published in the Nordic Journal of Botany.

The plant was originally seen in 1980, but it was not confirmed as a new species at that time. This is the first time it has been seen again in 36 years, according to Tan.

Polyalthia yingjiangensis has been designated an endangered species, according to classification by the World Conservation Union. There are only four samples currently available, and the trees are known to grow in only three places, all in Yunnan.

Knowledge about the species is limited, however, and scientists hope more field surveys can be done in areas that have not been studied to better understand the plant.

Tan suggested conservation areas be set up to help preserve the rare species, while he called for efforts to raise public awareness to save the plant from extinction.

Yingjiang, which is in the transitional zone between India-Myanmar and East Himalayan flora, is rich in biodiversity. A large number of new species have been discovered in the region in recent years.



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