Canopy giants from Cameroon
Massive rainforest trees are amongst the list of recent discoveries by Kew and its partners across the world.
22 Dec 2009
Aerial view of the Korup National Park, Cameroon (Image: RBG Kew)
Among the more than 250 new species discovered or described by Kew scientists in the past year are massive towering trees from the rainforests of Cameroon.
Discovered by Kew's Xander van der Burgt and his colleagues in the Korup National Park in Cameroon, Talbotiella velutina and Lecomtedoxa plumosa both reach more than 30m into the forest canopy. However Berlinia korupensis, named by Dr Barbara Mackinder, tops these at more than 42m in height with a buttressed trunk almost 1m wide.
The Berlinia is a member of the pea family (Leguminosae). It bears beautiful white flowers from which enormous pods some 30cm in length develop. The pods explode when ripe, propelling the seeds ballistically away from the mother tree. Surveys of the Korup National Park revealed that this tree is extremely rare. “We found just 17 trees in our surveys,” says van der Burgt. “Even though Korup is protected, Berlinia korupensis is critically endangered due to human pressures on the park.”
Kew and its in-country collaborators have discovered and described more than 100 new plant species from Cameroon since 1995, although Dr Martin Cheek, leader of the programme in Cameroon, comments that ”species discovery is accelerating [with] more than 50 of these new species described since 2005".
More about Kew's discoveries...
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