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A New Species of Orchid Discovered in Kenya by SAJOREC TEXT SIZE: A A A

A joint research team of Sino-Africa Joint Research Center and the National Museum of Kenya discovered a new species, Polystachya danielana (Orchidaceae: Polystachya) , from Kenya during preparation of the Flora of Kenya and research of Orchidaceae. This new species was officially named and published in the international journal of plant taxonomy Phytotaxa on June 6, 2019   

Orchidaceae is the second largest family of Angiosperms, with more than 20,000 species, about 700 genera. The genus Polystachya (Hooker) contains about 240 species, most species distributed in Africa, with a few extending to tropical and subtropical Americas; and only one known species in Asia: Polystachya concreta. Though Africa is the diversity distribution center of Polystachya,  relevant taxonomic research is still not enough. Many species of this genus in Africa are described after 2000. The discovery of this new species indicates that the orchid diversity of this area requires more attention. 

In May 2018, the joint research team of Sino-Africa Joint Research Center and the National Museum of Kenya collected a multiheaded Polystachya species with slender pseudobulbs and fleshy flowers during a field trip to the Cherangani Hills forest on the western highlands of Kenya. The new species differs from other Polystachya mainly in the branching and flower type of pseudobulbs. The research team, which includes researchers from Wuhan Botanical Garden, Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden and National Museum of Kenya, confirmed that the species was new to polygonum based on evidence combined morphology and DNA analysis.   

The new orchid species is named in memory of Daniel Odhiambo Miyawa, an international doctoral student at Wuhan Botanical Garden and a young botanist from the National Museum of Kenya. He engaged in the classification and conservation research of orchids for a long time. But unfortunately, he passed away in 2017 due to illness. Daniel spent his brief life studying Kenyan orchids and collected a large amount of basic information for the compilation of the orchid volume of Flora of Kenya.    

The article was published with the title "Polystachya danielana (Orchidaceae: Polystachyinae), a new species from Kenya". It provides a clear line diagram to better display the morphological characteristics of the new species. The type specimens of the new species are stored in the herbarium of Wuhan Botanical Garden (HIB) and East African Herbarium (EA).    

This new species: Polystachya danielana is morphologically and genetically closely related to P. spatella and P. kermesina. It can be distinguished from these two species mainly by its pseudobulbs mostly arising from the nodes near the base of the previous growth with only a few from the middle or upper nodes, bracts oblong, ca. 4 × 3 mm, apex emarginate with a caudate tip, ovary purple, dorsal sepal subovate, 5.0–7.0 × 3.0–4.5 mm. Phylogenetic analyses of the combined ITS and psbD-trnT dataset show that Polystachya danielana is a member of the clade of P. sect. Superpositae Kraenzlin (1926: 100). 


Polystachya danielana G.W.Hu, W.C.Huang & Q.F.Wang (Image by SAJOREC) 

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