Goniothalamus, comprising over 130 species of trees and shrubs, is one of the largest palaeotropical genera in the Annonaceae. In Laos, Goniothalamus are represented by four species, i.e., Goniothalamus laoticus, Goniothalamus repevensis, Goniothalamus marcanii and Goniothalamus saigonensis.
By observing the flowering material of Annonaceae cultivated in the living collections of Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) for years, the researchers found an unknown species, which is very distinctive and belongs to the genus Goniothalamus. The records showed that the accession was originally collected in 2002, from Lao PDR.
Based on the morphological characters, XTBG researchers compared it to all other currently known species and confirmed that it is new to science. They named it as Goniothalamus saccopetaloides to refer to its saccate and almost fleshy outer petals and got it published in PhytoKeys.
Goniothalamus saccopetaloides is shrub to small tree, to 3 m tall. It is morphologically similar to G. yunnanensis with elliptic-oblong to oblong leaf blades and broadly lanceolate, pinkish orange to reddish brown outer petals, but easily distinguished by having almost fleshy, involute, saccate outer petals, subglobose and single seeded monocarps.
G. saccopetaloides was originally distributed in Laos, the exact location and its wild habitat remains unknown. Due to insufficient field surveys so far, very limited details about its natural distribution and population status are currently known. The researchers thus consider it as data deficient (DD) according to the IUCN Red List Categories (IUCN 2012).
When carrying out botanical inventory of China-Laos transboundary biodiversity conservation, XTBG researchers also encountered two species of Goniothalamus representing new records (Goniothalamus cheliensis, and G. calvicarpus) for the flora of Laos.
TAN Yunhong Principal Investigator
Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
Habit of Goniothalamus saccopetaloides (Image by ZHU Renbin)
Flowers on main trunk of Goniothalamus saccopetaloides (Image by ZHU Renbin)
Fruits on the main trunk of Goniothalamus saccopetaloides (Image by ZHU Renbin)