New species of plants native to Singapore discovered in Botanic Gardens

New species of plants native to Singapore discovered in Botanic Gardens
The two new species Hanguana rubinea (L) and Hanguana triangulata (R).

SINGAPORE - Two new species of plants have been discovered here by researchers at the Botanic Gardens.

The Hanguana rubinea and Hanguana triangulata are new to science and can only be found in Singapore.

They grow in the understorey of primary forests and were first located in the Botanic Gardens.

Their discovery is unique in that there were at least 25 existing records of their family Hanguana at the Botanic Gardens Herbarium, some dating back to more than 100 years.

However, the Hanguana species was not studied extensively and was believed to be represented in Singapore by a single species, Hanguana malayana.

With field surveys conducted at Singapore's nature reserves, and through the study of fresh and existing herbarium material, researchers at the National Parks Board (NParks) have established that there are at least six species from the Hanguanaceae family in Singapore.

Said Jana Leong-Skornickova, the taxonomist behind the new discovery: "Finding any new species in heavily urbanised Singapore is almost a small miracle, in part because of our land area and also because Singapore's flora has been so densely researched in South East Asia.

"Yet, the discovery of these new Hanguana species shows that tropical floras, including that of Singapore, are richer and more complex than we generally presumed.

"Continued effort towards documenting and fully understanding the richness of Singapore's biodiversity is required to ensure that we correctly identify the conservation statuses of the native flora that is present on our island."

With the discovery of Hanguana rubinea and Hanguana triangulata, Singapore now has 3 species of endemic plants whch cannot be found anywhere else.

The third is the Zingiber singapurense, a ginger which grows at the Central Catchment Area Nature Reserve.

The discovery and rediscovery of plant species at Singapore's nature reserves and other nature areas is an indication that Singapore still contains many thriving habitats for biodiversity, said NParks.

andrewg@sph.com.sg

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