This remarkable new species was discovered in the highly endangered Atlantic Forest of eastern Brazil.
About this species
Kerianthera longiflora was discovered by Caetano T. Oliveira and Leandro Giacomin during inventory fieldwork in the Atlantic Forest of eastern Brazil. This species was found to belong in the genus Kerianthera, which was previously only known from the Amazon Forest. The Atlantic Forest of Brazil is one of the world’s most endangered environments. This is because it coincides with the most highly populated part of Brazil, and agricultural and mining activities in the area date back to the 1700s.
Kew has been involved in the study and cataloguing of Brazilian Rubiaceae (coffee family) for over ten years and has helped build capacity for staff in Brazil to develop research in floristic inventories and other baseline research.
Geography & Distribution
This species is restricted to the Atlantic Forest of the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo, in eastern Brazil.
Kerianthera longiflora is a tree that grows up to 15 m tall, with a trunk of 20 cm diameter. The showy leaves are green, hairless, shiny and up to 50 cm long. The leaves are simple (not divided) and opposite (inserted at the same point on the stem). The flowers are borne in large inflorescences with attractive red semaphylls (transformed calyx lobes). Each flower has five petals, which are united in a long white tube, and five stamens (male parts). The stamens are multilocellate (they have many compartments in which the pollen is stored, resembling a honeycomb). The fruit is dry and capsular, and the seeds are winged.
It is thought that this species may be pollinated by hawkmoths, and that the seeds are dispersed by the wind.
Threats & Conservation
This plant is threatened by the reduction of its natural habitat, due to deforestation in the region, which is carried out to clear land for agricultural (for example for pasture and coffee plantations) and mining.
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