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WBG and KIB Discover A New Species of Aspidistra TEXT SIZE: A A A

Recently, a new species, Aspidistra xichouensis Lei Cai, Z.L.Dao & G.W.Hu has been published by Wuhan Botanical Garden (WBG), Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), Chinese Academy of Sciences. Together with the publication of Aspidistra radiata G.W .Hu & Q.F. Wang in 2016 and Aspidistra austroyunnanensis G.W. Hu, Lei Cai & Q. F. Wang in 2018, three new Aspidistra species have been published by Wuhan Botanical Garden. 

Aspidistra gets its Chinese name “Zhi Zhu Bao Dan” from its flowers ground-dwelling, radially symmetrical perianth lobes resemble spider legs and enclose egg-like rounded perianth tube or intumescent stigmas. In the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) Ⅳ classification system, it was put in the family Asparagaceae. Aspidistra is endemic to Asia with about 200 species, mainly distributed in southeast Asia, more than half of them are distributed in China. There are a great variety of plants in this genus and a great variety of interspecific floral structures. At the same time, the flowers are growing close to the ground, so they are very hidden and not easy to be found, which makes their classification complicated and restricts the taxonomic research of this genus. In the past 10 years, the species of Aspidistra have been increasing with the deepening of investigation and the increasing of scientific research. 

In June 2013, HU Guangwan, the curator of the Herbarium of Wuhan Botanical Garden (HIB), collected a species of Aspidistra with long and narrow leaves and relatively small flowers in Xichou County, Yunnan Province, China. Unfortunately, it was not in antheses at that time; however, some features still retained on the withered flowers, such as perianth urceolate with four lobes, and stamens inserted near the middle of the perianth tube. It cannot be accurately identified without flowers, so he cultivated some individuals at WBG. Some of them were later transplanted to Guilin Botanical Garden where they flowered in 2018. In March 2019, CAI Lei, a doctoral student at KIB, collected the same plant with flowering individuals during a field investigation in the same area in Xichou County. After discussing with HU Guangwan and careful examination of relevant literature and specimens, they found that this plant was different from the all reported Aspidistra species and identified it as a new species. The new species is named Aspidistra xichouensis, on account of its holotype is native to Xichou County. The new species is published as “Aspidistra xichouensis (Asparagaceae), a new species from the karst region in southeastern Yunnan, China” in the international plant taxonomy journal: Phytotaxa. 

The new species resembles Aspidistra minutiflora Stapf, Aspidistra graminifolia Aver. & Tillich, and Aspidistra cylindrica Vislobokov & Nuraliev in leaf shape, flower size and structure, but can be easily distinguished mainly by the conspicuous petiole up to 20 cm long, upright peduncle, and erect flowers with 4(–5) perianth lobes. 


Aspidistra xichouensis (Lei Cai, Z.L.Dao & G.W.Hu 


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