THE NATIONAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION AGENCY
At the end of 2021, researchers from the Research Center for Plant Conservation and Botanical Gardens– the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) managed to discover seven new species of plants, the majority of which are classified as ornamental plants. The seven new species are Hoya batutikarensis, Hoya buntokensis, Dendrobium dedeksantosoi, Rigiolepis argentii, Begonia robii, Begonia willemii and Etlingera comosa. In addition, sub-species of Zingiber ultralimitale. a sub-species of mataromeoense was also found
(Bogor, 1 January 2022). Head of the Plant Conservation and Botanical Gardens Research Center Sukma Surya Kusumah said that the Biological Sciences Research Organization (IPH RO) through the Research Center for Plant Conservation and Botanical Gardens would continue to explore and identify plant species from their natural habitats in line with the program home of IPH RO related to conservation of endangered plants.
“The discovery of these new species has added to Indonesia’s biodiversity. This discovery also provides information of Indonesia’s rich biodiversity and supports further research related to its sustainable use,” he said.
Researcher at the Research Center, Wisnu Handoyo Ardi, said that Begonia is one of the largest genera of flowering plants. There are currently 2,052 Begonia species scattered across the world’s tropical regions. Indonesia is considered to be one of Begonia growing hubs, particularly in the Southeast Asia Region which currently has 243 species. However, this number will continue to grow as more and more forest areas are explored in various regions in Indonesia.
“Efforts to conserve and disclose new species of Begonia are actively carried out by BRIN and currently we have succeeded in conserving more than 100 types of Begonias from various regions in Indonesia,” explained Wisnu.
Description of New Species of Indonesian Plants
Begonia robii is endemic to the island of Sumatra. This species has a very attractive leaf color pattern, and has great potential to be used as an ornamental plant. This species has a stem that resembles a rhizome, the leaves are very asymmetrical, with a combination of green as the base and purplish red in the middle, precisely between the secondary leaf veins.
Meanwhile, Begonia willemii is endemic to Sulawesi Island. This species is found in lowland limestone hills habitat, grows creeping on limestone chunks or attaches vertically to karst (lime) stone walls. This species is collected from forest areas in Luwuk Banggai Regency, Central Sulawesi. The discovery of this new type of Begonia was the result of a collaboration between BRIN researchers and researcher from Singapore Botanic Gardens, Daniel C. Thomas.
Rigiolepis argentii is a woody shrub belonging to the Ericaceae family. This species was discovered and collected during the Begonia Sulawesi exploration activities in 2018-2019 in Enrekang and North Toraja regencies, precisely on the hills of Eran Batu and Mount Sesean. Previously, Sulawesi was known to have only one species, Rigiolepis Henrici, and in 2021 a second new species was discovered, Rigilepis argentii which was described by researcher and teaching staff at Samudra Langsa University Aceh, Wendi A. Mustaqimm and researcher from the Plant Conservation and Botanical Gardens Research Center, Wishnu Handoyo Ardi.
Rigiolepis argentii has been declared as a new species because it has a combination of different morphological characters from all Rigiolepis genus in Indonesia, especially the most similar species, Rigiolepos moultonii. These characters are the presence of persistent hairs on the upper surface of the leaves, modified leaves of flowers on the lower part of the stalk, cup-shaped petal tube, longer stalk and copular fruit.
Etlingera comosa is endemic to Sulawesi which is the result of exploration in the Tentena mountains, Poso Regency, Central Sulawesi. Its distinguishing character is that Etlibngara comosa has tufted hair on its midrib, leaf ligules that are asymmetrical and scalloped, the protective leaves of the flower are densely haired, long stamens and anthers that are shorter than its closest species, Etlibgera sublimata.
Ayi Doni Darussalam (Coordinator of BRIN’s Public Relations, Bogor Region)
Wisnu Handoyo Ardi (Researcher at BRIN’s Research Center for Plant Conservation and Botanical Gardens)