Research Paper

Taxonomic and ecological notes on Gaultheria cumingiana S.Vidal (Ericaceae) from the Cordillera Central Range, Northern Philippines

Joanna I. Alfag, Jones T. Napaldet

Published on: 14 September 2022

Page: 497 - 509

DOI: 10.6165/tai.2022.67.497

Abstract

Gaultheria leucocarpa var. cumingiana (S.Vidal) T.Z.Hsu was long been treated as a variety but recent evidences on its matK analysis and pollen structure showed a distinct species. To verify this, we revisited its taxonomic treatment using field data on its morpho-anatomical and ecological characters. The taxon is distinct from G. leucocarpa and its varieties with its smaller leaves, larger calyx and corolla, red to purple or blackish fruit at maturity, distinct pollen structures and distinct in matK analysis; hence, we are proposing the alteration as Gaultheria cumingiana Vidal to be recognized as a distinct species and not just a variety of G. leucocarpa. Additionally, we presented its detailed anatomical features that shows a typical dicot shade leaf with well-defined air spaces and unusually high abaxial stomatal density, eustele stem and protostele root anatomy. The ecological characters of the plant are also presented in terms of edaphic factors, biodiversity indices and surrounding floral species. Elevation and shading emerged as the major factors contributing to the distribution of the taxon showing a narrow elevation range at high altitude and preference for shading particularly at lower elevation populations but higher elevated populations can tolerate full sunlight. These information are important baseline for conservation and better understanding of the unique but understudied flora of the Cordillera Central Range.

Keyword: Canonical correspondence analysis, edaphic factors, elevation, Ericaceae, Gaultheria cumingiana

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