Scientists find new plant species in SW China

Chinese scientists have found a new plant species of Oreocharis in southwest China's Yunnan Province, according to the Chengdu Institute of Biology (CIB) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The findings, made by researchers from the CIB and Guangxi Institute of Botany of the CAS, have been published recently in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

During a field investigation on an oak community in August 2021, the researchers found an unknown species of Oreocharis in Ninglang county, Yunnan.

By comparing the plant with several known Oreocharis species, the researchers confirmed that it is a new species, with unique characteristics in venation on leaves, indumentum of peduncle, pedicel and bract, and the shape of bract.

The new species was named Oreocharis oriolus after the lively bird oriole, as its bright yellow flowers are reminiscent of the bird's feather color.

After extensive investigation of vegetation cover, the researchers found that the new species has a narrow distribution, growing in limestone cracks in an area of two square kilometers.

This new species is currently listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

According to the researchers, the discovery of the plant species has further enriched diversity of Oreocharis in China, and has positive significance for the biogeography of the Hengduan Mountains in southwest China. 

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