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Geostachys secunda (Baker) Ridl.
by Lau Kah Hoo

Thriving in the pristine tropical forest of Gunung Batu Puteh, Perak is the mystifying Geostachys secunda from the ginger family. The species was not well-known until recently when its status was reaffirmed after a search conducted in 2005 at the type site. The last and only collection of it was made by H.H. Kunstler in 1885, which was deposited in the Kew Herbarium. The species is hyper-endemic and this may explain the low number of records, either in the forest or as herbarium specimens.

With a height of not more than 1 m, G. secunda is also supported above the ground by stilt-roots up to 50 cm long. The leaves measure up to 34 × 8 cm and are elliptic, glabrous and sometimes reddish underneath when young. The labellum is light yellow with a slightly toothed margin. The flower anther is not crested. It has the typical Geostachys fruits, which are ellipsoid and dark red.

At the foothill of Gunung Batu Puteh lies the settlement of the Semai indigenous people. They occasionally harvest the forest products, but interviews with them showed that G. secunda is not utilised by them. The species is categorized as Vulnerable based on the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria because of its restricted area of occupancy. Therefore, in this case, the best way to conserve the population is by preserving its habitat.

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