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Meistera lappacea (Ridl.) Škorničk. & M.F.Newman (Zingiberaceae)
by Siti Eisya Nabiha Damahuri & Dr. Avelinah Julius
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Meistera lappacea (Ridl.) Škorničk. & M.F.Newman (Zingiberaceae)
by Siti Eisya Nabiha Damahuri & Dr. Avelinah Julius

This wild ginger with rambutan-like fruit was formerly known as Amomum lappaceum Ridl. but has recently been transferred to the genus Meistera Giseke (de Boer et al., 2018). Meistera can be distinguished from Amomum by the shape of the anther crest (the anther connective) which is crescent-shaped (either entire, indistinctly bilobed, or trilobed), the echinate and rarely glabrous fruits, and the fertile bracts which bear only a single flower (de Boer et al., 2018).

Meistera has about 44 species worldwide (POWO, 2023). Of these, only three species are known for Peninsular Malaysia, i.e., Meistera aculeata (Roxb.) Škorničk. & M.F.Newman (synonym: Amomum aculeatum Roxb.), M. lappacea (Ridl.) Škorničk. & M.F.Newman and M. ochrea (Ridl.) Škorničk. & M.F.Newman (synonym: Amomum ochreum Ridl.) (Newman et al., 2005).

Meistera lappacea, originally described from Pahang in Peninsular Malaysia, is also distributed in Java, Sumatra, and Thailand (POWO, 2023). It inhabits dense primary forests at high elevations, i.e., 1100–1500 m altitude. This species is a medium-sized herb about 3─3.5 m in height. The rhizome runs on or near the soil surface and is supported by stilt roots. The rather glabrous leaves are (11─)38─53 cm long and (3─)7.2─10 cm wide, cuneate at the base and shortly acuminate-caudate at the tip. The petiole is very short to 5 mm or sessile, and the ligule is also short, about 3 mm long and retuse at the tip (Holttum, 1950).

The inflorescences of this species are erect and gradually grow up to 20─35 cm long. The flowers bloom continuously at the apex, while the fruits ripen at the base. The bracts are thin and soon disintegrate, revealing the developing echinate fruits. Corolla lobes are thin and translucent with an elongated pink line. The lip is ovate and slightly trilobed (about 2 ×2.5 cm). The lobes are pale yellow and crisp or wavy at the margin. The anthers are 8─11 mm long and elongate into a semicircular crest that is not or barely wider than the anthers (Holttum, 1950).

The fruits are edible and eaten by the Sakai tribe from the northern part of Pahang (Holttum, 1950). Burkill (1966) reports that the seeds are used (as wild cardamom) to flavour food.

Globally, the conservation status of this species is Vulnerable (VU) because the population is declining (IUCN, 2023). However, its status is yet to be evaluated for the Malaysia Plant Red List.

References

  1. Boer, H.D., Newman, M., Poulsen, A.D., Droop, A.J., Fer, T., Thu Hien, L.T., Hlavata, K., Lamxay, V., Richardson, J.E., Steffen, K. & Leong-Skornickova, J. (2018). Convergent morphology in Alpinieae (Zingiberaceae): Recircumscribing Amomum as a monophyletic genus. Taxon. 67 (1), 6-36. https://doi.org/10.12705/671.2
  2. Burkill, I.H. (1996). A Dictionary of The Economic Products Of The Malay Peninsula. 2nd ed. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. pp. 2444.
  3. Holttum, R.E. (1950). The Zingiberaceae of the Malay Peninsula. The Gardens' Bulletin Singapore. 13, 1–249
  4. IUCN. (2023). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved August 04, 2023, from https://www.iucnredlist.org
  5. Newman, M. et al. (2005–). Zingiberaceae Resource Centre. Retrieved August 04, 2023, from https://padme.rbge.org.uk/ZRC/
  6. POWO. (2023). Plants of the World Online. Facilitate by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved August 03, 2023, from https://powo.science.kew.org/
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