Friday, February 8, 2019

[Botany • 2019] Aloe sanguinalis (Asphodelaceae)Dacar Cas/Somali Red Aloe: A New Species of Aloe from Somaliland

Aloe sanguinalis Awale & Barkworth

in Barkworth, Awale & Gelle, 2019.  

A new species of Aloe (Asphodelaceae) is described from Somaliland. It differs from other species in forming large clumps and in having sap that is initially yellow but quickly turns bright red and then dark red or reddish-brown, paniculate red-flowered inflorescences and uniformly coloured leaves with red teeth. Its recognition raises the number of species known from the combined area of Somaliland and Somalia s.s. from 31 to 36. A map portraying species density of Aloe by country, as that genus is now interpreted, shows that Aloe has its highest density on islands in the Indian Ocean but that, within Africa, the greatest density is in countries along the eastern highlands. The data also reinforce the importance of field botanists in determining a country’s known plant diversity.

Keywords: Asparagales, species density, Africa

Figure 1. Aloe sanguinalis at Alala Adka showing the largest clump in October 2016.

Figure 2. Aloe sanguinalis from Alala Adka, June 2017.
A Whole inflorescence, including peduncle B Sap, showing color after 10–15 minutes C Leaves freshly cut near their base showing color of sap when fresh D Decumbent offset, showing roots from some nodes E Inflorescence branch and flowers from another branch, arranged from top to bottom of the branch F Flower after maturation of style.

Figure 3. Aloe sanguinalis at Lafarug.
A One of the larger clumps, with Awale, in January 2018 B Inflorescence of Aloe sanguinalis at Lafarug, June 2018.

Aloe sanguinalis Awale & Barkworth, sp. nov.

Type: SOMALILAND. Marodi Jeh (Maroodi Jeex), Hargeysa, Alala Adka, 15–20 km west of the town of Da’ar Buduk (Dacar Budhuq). Elevation 950 m, 9.8705N, 44.3761E (WGS84), 24 May 2017, Mary E. Barkworth S17.001, Ahmed Ibrahim Awale, Garrett Billings and Helen Pickering (holotype: HARG).

Diagnosis: Aloe sanguinalis differs from other species of Aloe in its combination of sap that is initially yellow but quickly turns bright red, drying to dark red or brownish-red, strong clump-forming habit, red teeth and paniculate inflorescence of well-spaced glabrous, red flowers.

Distribution: Aloe sanguinalis is currently known from only two locations, the type locality near Alala Adka and a more northern locality .... near the village of Lafarug. Larajasse (1897, p. 25), a Catholic missionary based in Berbera from 1888–1903, stated that “da’ar” refers to bile or an “aloe about three feet high, red and orange varieties, broad spiked fleshy leaves, spreading out from the ground; is a favorite food of elephants.” It seems probable, considering the species known from the area, that he was referring to A. sanguinalis. Elephants have not been seen in Somaliland since 1958.

Habitat and ecology: The two known locations of Aloe sanguinalis are open plains with sandy soils in which, among other species, Salvadora persica and Indigofera sparteola grow. The Alala Adka location is treeless but there are scattered Vachellia tortilis trees at the Lafarug site.

Etymology: The epithet is derived from sanguineus, Latin for blood, and refers to the colour of the sap which distinguishes it from all other species in the region.

 Mary E. Barkworth, Ahmed Ibrahim Awale and Faisal Jama Gelle. 2019. Dacar Cas/Somali Red Aloe: A New Species of Aloe (Asphodelaceae) from Somaliland.  PhytoKeys. 117: 85-97.  DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.117.28226

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