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Geostachys belumensis C.K. Lim & K.H. Lau
by Lau Kah Hoo

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Geostachys belumensis C.K. Lim & K.H. Lau

by Lau Kah Hoo

This ginger species was first discovered on a montane slope along the East West Highway, in the Belum Forest Reserve. It was first collected in 2004 by Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, an architect turned avid botanist. After a series of discussions with the author who was then revising the genus in Peninsular Malaysia, it was concluded that a new species had been found. The account was published a year later (Lau et al., 2005) and the species was named Geostachys belumensis C.K. Lim & K.H. Lau, commemorating the location where it was first found in Belum.

This species has short rhizomes and is well supported above the ground by its stilt roots, a typical root system also found in several species of Geostachys. The leafy shoot has a medium height of about 1.3 m and usually occurs in clumps. The leaves are soft in texture, dark green on the upper side and mostly maroon-coloured underneath. It has a decurved inflorescence which is occasionally erect if the peduncle emerges from beneath the thick forest litter. The cincinni are arranged on one side of the decurved inflorescence, with each pointing upwards. A cincinnus is a form of inflorescence on which the successive axes arise alternately in respect to the preceding one. As with the flowers, the labellum is yellow, with red marks appearing in the middle edge towards the staminodes, broadening at the middle. The fruits are ellipsoid, glabrous and dark red, not bigger than 2 cm.

The location where the population was first found is now located in a newly gazetted forest reserve, the Amanjaya Forest Reserve. The gazetting of the forest reserve was aimed at providing better protection to the surrounding environment, especially the wildlife. However, enforcement is crucially needed as subsequent visits to the site revealed that the area is no longer as pristine as it was when first discovered, with signs of encroachment. As G. belumensis is hyper endemic to its locality and many of its aspects yet to be studied, it is therefore of utmost importance that the habitat be preserved by all means.

References

  1. Lau, K.H., Lim, C.K. & Mat-Salleh, K. (2005). Two new species of Geostachys (Zingiberaceae) from Peninsular Malaysia. Flora Malaysiana , Vol. 6 (3 & 4): pp. 83-94

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