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Asia and New Plants: Is There Alien Life, But Also, Are There New Plants?

Jul 21, 2015 04:43 PM EDT
Hoya ruthiae, newly declared a found plant, is distinctive for its clear sap.
In the live hive of Borneo plants, two new ones have been declared by a researcher from the Singapore Botanic Gardens Herbarium.
(Photo : Photo: M. Rodda)
Hoya bakoensis lives on top of other plants or trees, usually starting in an ant nest.
This is one of two beautiful plants newly discovered in Borneo. What does it tell us, that we are still discovering new growth on the planet?
(Photo : Photo: M. Rodda)

Two new and lovely plants have been discovered in Borneo, that thrashing haven of greenery. They are in the very large Hoya R.Br. genus, which means they are in the family Apocynaceae, some of those members are called waxplants. Most members of the 500-member family are in Asia. It is a fast-growing plant family, as more than 200 new Hoya names have been published since 2001.

Scientist Dr. Michele Rodda of the Singapore Botanic Gardens Herbarium recently described the two new plants in the journal PhytoKeys.

The first organism, Hoya ruthiae was found on a limestone outcrop and is distinctive for having clear latex and resin--most Hoyas have colored milk-like sap. It was located by Ruth Kiew in the Borneo area of Sabah, and is also widely available in cultivation. The second, Hoya bakoensis, was collected by Dr. Rodda in March 2015 during an expedition to Bako National Park's kerangas forests, which are moist and shady heath forests. The latter is named for the park and grows epiphytically--meaning that it thrives on top of or inside a tree or other plant. In most cases, it sprouts  seedlings from the openings of small ant nests inside hollow tree trunks, and it climbs the host tree for sunlight. The bakoensis doesn't cause the host tree any harm, as a release noted.

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