Wednesday, June 28, 2017

[Botany • 2017] Warneckea albiflora • A New Species of Warneckea subgenus Carnosae (Melastomataceae—Olisbeoideae) from Coastal Dry Forest in northern Mozambique

Warneckea albiflora  R.D. Stone & N.P. Tenza


Described and illustrated is Warneckea albiflora R.D. Stone & N.P. Tenza, another localized endemic of coastal dry forest near Quiterajo in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province. In Flora Zambesiaca the new species would key to Memecylon sansibaricum Taub. [≡Warneckea sansibarica (Taub.) Jacq.-Fél.], but is distinguished by its elliptic-lanceolate, attenuate–acuminate leaves and white flowers borne on pedicels 3.5–4 mm long (versus leaves elliptic and rounded to shortly and obtusely acuminate, pedicels 6–15 mm long, and flowers pale blue to deep blue in Warneckea  sansibarica). Because of its evidently very limited occurrence as well as on-going anthropogenic threats, Warneckea albiflora is provisionally assessed as Critically Endangered (CR) B1ab(iii) according to IUCN criteria. A key is provided to the Mozambican species of Warneckea.

Keywords: Africa, Melastomataceae, Mozambique, new species, plant conservation, plant taxonomy, Warneckea, Eudicots

 Living material of Warneckea albiflora (same individual as the type collection), Flowering branchlet
Photograph by John E. Burrows.

Warneckea albiflora R.D. Stone & N.P. Tenza, sp. nov.
Type:— MOZAMBIQUE. Cabo Delgado: Quiterajo, track through middle of Namacubi (Banana) Forest, elev. 125 m, 27 Nov 2008, J.E. Burrows & S.M. Burrows 10833 (holotype BNRH!, isotype K[K000738569]!).

Distribution and habitat:— Known only from the Namacubi (Banana) Forest west of Quiterajo, Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique (for maps see Fig. 2 in Timberlake et al. 2011 and Fig. 2 in Stone 2013). According to data provided on specimen labels, the habitat is in dry, semi-deciduous coastal forest dominated by Guibourtia schliebenii (Harms) J. Léonard and Pteleopsis myrtifolia (M.A. Lawson) Engl. & Diels, on sandy soil at elevations of 90–120 m. 

 Phenology:— Flowers in late November. Fruiting period unknown. 

 Conservation status:— Warneckea albiflora is known from a single location that is not in a protected area. The EOO is estimated as 12 km2 and the AOO as 16 km2 (assuming a 4 km2 grid-cell size). Ongoing threats include continued clearing for subsistence agriculture, cutting of poles, uncontrolled fires, and possible road construction for oil-and-gas development which would increase access to and clearance of the forest (Timberlake et al. 2011; Cheek & Darbyshire 2014). Accordingly, W. albiflora is provisionally assessed as Critically Endangered, CR B1ab(iii). 

 Etymology:— The epithet albiflora is an adjective referring to the white flowers of this species, this being the main diagnostic feature separating it from the closely related W. sansibarica

Discussion:—Warneckea albiflora is placed in W. subgenus Carnosae 

Robert Douglas Stone and Ntombiphumile Perceverence Tenza. 2017. Warneckea albiflora, A New Species of Warneckea subgenus Carnosae (Melastomataceae—Olisbeoideae) from coastal dry forest in northern Mozambique. Phytotaxa. 311(2); 168–174. DOI:  10.11646/phytotaxa.311.2.4

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