New Species of Dogbane Family Found in Tibet

Chinese Academy of Sciences

According to a recent phylogenetic study, the genus Ceropegia is the largest genus of the family Apocynaceae (commonly known as the dogbane family) and comprises more than 700 species. Ceropegia sect. Chionopegia is mainly distributed in the Himalaya region, Pakistan and India eastwards to China. In China, up to now 11Ceropegia species belong to sect. Chionopegia.

During systematic botanical researches in Jilong County in Tibet, researchers from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences collected an unknown species of Ceropegia. After literature review and careful morphological examination, they confirmed that it represented a new species.

The researchers named the new species as Ceropegia jilongensis after the type locality, Jilong County and published it in Taiwania.

Ceropegia jilongensis is a perennial, twining herb, up to one meter long. It is morphologically most similar to C. hookeri (China, India and Nepal), but clearly differs in its pedicel densely pubescent, exterior of corolla tube pubescent, interior glabrous, ovoid cage 12-15 mm in diameter, corolla lobes obovate, interstaminal corona lobes divided into pairs of linear teeth.

The new species is currently known only from Sale Township, Jilong County, Tibet, China, growing in temperate coniferous forests close to a road. Only one population sporadically distributed in temperate coniferous forests near a road was found during the study. It may be also distributed in Nepal because the type locality is near Nepal.

Since insufficient field surveys up to now, its natural distribution and population status are currently unknown. The researchers assessed its conservation status as ‘Data Deficient’ according to the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.

Ceropegia jilongensis. (Image by MA Xingda)

Ceropegia jilongensis. (Image by MA Xingda)

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