Thottea piscodora T.L.Yao
by Mr. Yao Tze Leong
Thottea piscodora T.L.Yao
by Mr. Yao Tze Leong

Peninsular Malaysia is undoubtedly one of the well-botanised areas in Southeast Asia. Still, lowland forest on the East Coast is analogous to a chest of hidden treasures for botanists: there are new species to be discovered! This statement holds true for Thottea, with five new species recently described (Yao, 2013) from Terengganu. One of them is T. piscodora.

Thottea piscodora grows in seasonal freshwater swamp. It is a shrub with a woody rootstock that produces several vertical stems growing in a clump. The stems grow to 2 meter tall and are sometimes branched. Leaves are alternately arranged on the upper end of the stem. The undersurface of the leaves is conspicuously glaucous.

Flowers are produced at nodes on the lower part of the stem close to ground level. On some old stems, one can observe a few masses of tissue formed from the repeating flowerings. The flower is about 3 cm long and 1 cm wide. On top of the slender ovary is the 3-lobed perianth. It is urn-shaped at the base, and contains 14–15 stamens arranged in two whorls. The specific epithet denotes the smell of the flower. Its rotten fish smell is strong enough to attract a swarm of flies from nowhere, which chased after me when I brought the plant specimens out from the collection site!

The survival of this species is a valid concern. This species is narrowly endemic in the Rasau-Kertih forest fragments in southern Terengganu, where land use is undergoing rapid change.

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