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The flowers and fruit of Cynometra cebuensis, a newly discovered plant species in Cebu.

The tassle and fruit of Cynometra cebuensis, a newly discovered plant species in Cebu. Pink for young trees and bright creamy greenish yellow for older trees. Image from [1].

The Cebu, an island in the central Philippines,  is endangered of losing its natural forest with only 0.2% of it currently left. This is a pity since Cebu host at least two endemic plant species, the Polycias cernabrei and the Cinnamomum cebuense or the Cebu cinnamon.

Last year, there is another addition to the list of Cebu plant endemics: meet Cynometra cebuensis from the Tabunan forest in Central Cebu [1].

This new plant, known only from Cebu island, grows on limestone in 400–600- meter altitude dry forests. They flower in March and early April, and are in bloom in three to five days. The fruits develop within 3 months and fall from the trees in July.

According to the author, this new plant is most similar to Cynometra copelandii from Sibuyan island as both species possess 4–6 paired leaves and leaflets that have notch at the apex.

However they have significant different characteristics: The “leaves and leaflets are much larger in C. copelandii; the flowers are purely white, instead of creamy white; he rachis of the inflorescence is 14–16 mm long in the new species; the anthers are not cleft at the base; the new species has no sterile stamen whereas C. copelandii has one sterile stamen; the ovary is densely strigose hairy whereas it is laxly long-hairy in C. copelandii [1].”

The new species also differ from other Cynometra in habitat. All Indo-Pacific species grow in an everwet climate while Cebu has a 3-month distinct dry season. The new plant grows on dry limestone forests without flowing water in contrast to the C. copelandii which grows along river.

But here´s the most important thing: this new species is CRITICALLY ENDANGERED owing to the rapid deterioration of its natural habitat.

To save this plant, the author suggested that we adopt it in our gardens. Why not? It has ornamental qualities. “The tassels of seedlings and young trees are bright pink, in older trees, they are bright creamy greenish yellow [1].” However, it is slow growing. From the seedling to the flowering state takes about 9 years.  The average eight is only 8 meters and its girth is 8.6 cms after 10 years.

Maybe from a cutting perhaps?

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Reference

[1] Seidenschwarz, F (2013). Cynometra cebuensis, a new species of Leguminosae (Caesalpinioidae) from the Philippines Blumea – Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants, 58, 18-20 DOI: 10.3767/000651913X669013

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