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Impatiens curtisii Hook. f. (Balsaminaceae)
by Mrs. Sarah Nabila Binti Rosli
Newsletter
Impatiens curtisii Hook. f. (Balsaminaceae)
by Mrs. Sarah Nabila Binti Rosli

Impatiens curtisii is a forest herb with an erect stem. It was described by Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1906 (Hooker, 1906). This species is endemic to Perak, and can only be found on Bukit Larut and Gunung Hijau at altitudes of 900 to 1,200 m above sea level.

Bukit Larut, Perak, is the smallest hill resort in Malaysia. Formerly, it was known as Maxwell Hill. Bukit Larut, gazetted as a permanent forest reserve in 1910, is part of the Bintang mountain range. There are actually two peaks on Bukit Larut, namely, Bukit Larut (1,035 m) and Gunung Hijau (1,449 m). Bukit Larut is one of the wettest places in Peninsular Malaysia, receiving on average 5000 mm precipitation per year (Khairuddin, 1992).

Impatiens curtisii grows on wet rocks in a humid environment. The genus name originates from the word, ‘impatient’ which refers to the immediate instant bursting of the mature seed pods when touched. The species name commemorates Charles Curtis, the first person to collect this species. He was an assistant Superintendent of Penang Botanic Gardens and Forests Straits Settlements for 7 years from mid-1884 until the end of 1891 (Gledhill, 2008).

Impatiens curtisii can be distinguished from other Impatiens species by its long petiole and rough hairs on the upper surface of its leaves. The leaves are sometimes opposite or alternate with 8 pairs of veins. The solitary flowers are axillary, and pale white-purple. The fruit/seed pod is a fleshy capsule, swollen in the centre with many flat seeds.

Since the species is endemic only to Bukit Larut and Gunung Hijau, it is feared that the distribution of the species could be threatened due to its ease of discovery, as it is often found on the forest edges.

Responsible parties such as Majlis Perbandaran Taiping should take extra precautions to maintain the habitat for this species. Plants could also be propagated in an area with similar climate, soils and other microclimatic factors, for example, at Cameron Highlands Montane Park (CHiMP), in order to ensure the continued survival of this species. The conservation status of I. curtisii has not yet been evaluated but it could be categorized to Near Threatened (NT) since it is endemic to such a small area in Perak which is also a popular tourism destination.

References

  1. Gledhill, D. (2008). The Name of Plants. 4th edition. University of Bristol. pp. 129.
  2. Hooker, J.D. (1906). Kew Bulletin 6: in Rec. Bot. Surv Ind. 4: pp. 55
  3. Khairuddin, K. (1992). Siri Alam dan Rimba No 3: Hutan Hujan Tropika Semenanjung Malaysia. Institut Penyelidikan Perhutanan Malaysia (FRIM). Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Kepong.
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