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New passiflora discovered in Colombia

The new species named Passiflora creuci-caetanoae is now part of other 65 species in the world of which 35 are present in Colombia and 23 are endemic.

Palmira, 31 de mayo de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

The flower of the new species is red and elongated without a crown, making it easier for pollinators such as the hummingbird to reach.

Leaves measure between 5.5 cm and 17 cm. (2.1 - 6.6 in.)

Illustration of the plant and flower morphology. By: Carolina Aguirre.

Geographic distribution of the new passiflora.

Passiflora’s are a genus of commercial plants such as the banana passionfruit, the passionfruit, and the purple and yellow passion fruit among others, esteemed for their edible fruit which may be prepared in juices, yogurts and cocktails. 

In the industry they are used at the pharmaceutical level for their antioxidant and sedative properties; furthermore its extracts are also used for perfumes and its forms and colors are valued by European and world collectors as they are considered exotic plants. 

Passiflora’s are also divided into the Tacsonia supersection, which is a minor and more specific category, mainly characterized for its elongated floral tube, reduced crown and red, orange, pink and violet perianth. 

The new Passiflora creuci-caetanoae is a Tacsonia discovered by Miguel MacGyver Bonilla Morales a Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) in Palmira Biological Sciences M.Sc. and Neotropical Phytogenetic Resources Research Group (GIRFIN, for its Spanish acronym) researcher 

GIRFIN Researcher Adriana Carolina Aguirre Morales and Universidad de los Llanos Professor Julián Cárdenas Hernández also helped to describe the new species and other taxonomic activities. 

“I named it Passiflora creuci-caetanoae, en honor of Brazilian professor Creucí María Caetano, who came to UNal-Palmira in 2004 and began to work with passiflora’s in Colombia from the cytogenetic perspective,” added Bonilla. 

He identified this new species as different from P. adulterina and P. cuatrecasasii, which have similar characteristics, but the new species has very distinguishing features. 

For instance, it has lobed leaves and in the same branch it has double and triple lobed leaves. The leaves measure between 5.5 cm and 17 cm. (2.1 - 6.6 in.) and can also have oval-lanceolate shaped leaves on a flat base and oval shape body but ending in form of a spear. 

Another distinguishing feature is that it has straight and brown trichomes (extensions or appendices, or hairs which help to regulate gas exchange in colder areas); the other species which they were compared to also had trichomes but curved. It also has ensiform stipules or small fragments in forms of spears which protrude from the branches and measure more than a millimeter. The flower is red and measures between 1 and 10 cms (0.8 - 3.9 in.). 

“We gathered flower samples in January and April which are related to the dry seasons in the Orinoquía region. This means that when the rains end, it begins to bloom,” said Bonilla. 

The fruit is green with white spots but the researcher could not collect it during his field trips, but other people have photographed it and planted seeds. 

Colombia, with this new discovery has 35 of the 65 species of the Tacsonia supersection in the world, of which 23 are endemic to Colombia. 

According to a vulnerability analysis, 84% of the species of the Tacsonia supersection are in some degree of threat and 26% in critical danger. 

“Therefore we can conclude it is necessary to establish preservation and conservation strategies, focused on caring for their environment and including them in germoplasm banks, besides including programs to boost use of Andean phytogenetic resources,” said Bonilla. 

The species was collected near the municipality of El Calvario (Province of Meta) in January of 2013 thanks to the support of Universidad de los Llanos students Óscar Hernández, Johan Mosquera, Nicol Mejía, Alexander González, Andrés Mora, María Fernanda Toro and Javier Valbuena. 

To gather the samples they cut plant fragments and placed them in paper and pressed them between cardboard pieces. They were later processed at the Universidad del Valle herbarium with help of Professor Alba Marina Torres. 

Furthermore they carried out a comparison in 85 herbariums (20 in Colombia- physically) and the rest, digitally at the international level. 

A validation report as “unknown” was submitted by the international scientific journal Phytotaxa peer evaluators.

(Por: Fin/HAA/DMH/APBL
)
N.° 814

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