Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Botanists Discover New Conifer Species in Vietnam

05.06.2002


Single branch of Xanthocyparis vietnamensis with two foliage types. Immature foliage on the left and mature foliage on the right.

Image courtesy of Daniel Harder, Arboretum at UCSC.


Type locality of Xanthocyparis vietnamensis within the limestone mountain system at Bat Dai Son, Ha Giang Province, Quan Ba District, Bat Dai Son Municipality within the Bat Dai Son Provincial Protected Area, Viet Nam.

Image courtesy of Daniel Harder, Arboretum at UCSC


An unusual conifer found in a remote area of northern Vietnam has been identified as a genus and species previously unknown to science. The limestone ridges where the tree grows are among the most botanically rich areas in Vietnam, said Daniel Harder, currently director of the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) Arboretum and a co-discoverer of the new species. The discovery is published in the current issue of the journal Novon.

"Biologists don’t need to contemplate finding life on another planet to imagine making extraordinary discoveries; the fact is, most of the species living on our own planet are still unknown," says Norman Platnick, program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) division of environmental biology, which funded the research. "That kind of basic, new knowledge about life, its interrelationships, and how it is distributed across the globe, often has enormous practical implications, guiding the search for new medicines, new pesticides, and even new ways to control alien, invasive species."

Harder spent several years in Vietnam, working to establish an on-going survey of Vietnamese plants organized by the Missouri Botanical Garden, which received the NSF funding that helped enable this research. During that time, he and his collaborators discovered more than 100 new species of plants. But the conifer now known as the golden Vietnamese cypress is by far the most remarkable of those discoveries, he said.



"For us to find a previously undescribed large tree like this indicates that there is probably a lot more to be discovered there," Harder said. "It’s comparable to the recent discoveries of previously unknown large mammals in Southeast Asia, like the giant muntjac and the saola, a type of ox."

Other scientists involved in the conifer discovery included Vietnamese botanists Nguyen Tien Hiep and Phan Ke Loc, Russian botanist Leonid Averyanov, and United Kingdom botanist Philip Cribb from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. They found the trees clinging to steep limestone ridges in a mountainous area known as Bat Dai Son near the Chinese border.

The recently discovered tree is a new genus within the cypress family (Cupressaceae); botanists have named it Xanthocyparis vietnamensis, the golden Vietnamese cypress. Its closest relative is the yellow spruce of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, also known as the Nootka cypress. Previously classified as Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, the yellow spruce is now classified as the second species in the new genus Xanthocyparis.

The new species is distinctive in that it bears two different types of foliage (needles and scale leaves) on mature trees. It produces fine, yellowish-brown, hard, fragrant timber that is highly prized by local citizens. Logging has reduced the number of larger trees, but some very large and stately specimens still grow on the steep, rocky slopes of isolated mountain peaks, Harder said. The mountaintop ridges in Bat Dai Son hold remnants of a forest that was once much more widespread, he added.

"This tree was already rare and endangered when it was discovered, which lends urgency to putting in place some protections," Harder said. "These limestone mountains might actually harbor other valuable species."

In addition to the cypress, the collaborative team of botanists exploring the area has found about two dozen new orchid species, a variety of interesting new shrubs, and numerous herbs and bulbs, including a half-dozen new species in the Jack-in-the-pulpit family (Araceae).

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>