The seven new species are Hoya batutikarensis, Hoya buntokensis, Dendrobium dedeksantosoi, Rigiolepis argentii, Begonia robii, Begonia willemii and Etlingera comosa. Researchers also discovered a subspecies of Zingiber ultralimitale.
The recent discoveries add to Indonesia’s rich biodiversity and could launch further research, particularly to study the use of the plants for medical treatment.
Head of the plant conservation and botanical gardens research center at BRIN, Sukma Surya Kusumah, said the research center would continue to conduct exploration and identification of plant species in their natural habitats, in line with their program to conserve plant species that face the risk of extinction.
Wisnu Handoyo Ardi, a researcher at the center, said Indonesia had diverse begonia species, accounting for more than 10 percent of the species identified globally – making it one of the most biodiverse countries in Southeast Asia for begonia.
As many as 2,052 begonia species have been identified around the world, of which 243 are found in Indonesia. The figure will likely go up, Wisnu said, as researchers continued to discover new begonia species in Indonesia’s forests.
Wisnu added that BRIN was actively involved in the identification and conservation efforts of the begonia species, saying that the agency had conserved more than 100 begonia species from across the archipelago.
“We are currently reviewing the conservation status of nine begonia plants from Sulawesi in order to determine whether they are currently at risk in their natural habitat,” said Wisnu.
The begonias are considered an important species and thought to possess medicinal properties. Begonia medicinalis, one native begonia species in Sulawesi, is often used by local villagers as treatment for disease. Researchers from Tadulako University in Central Sulawesi are currently studying the species to identify whether it has an antioxidant compound that could be used in cancer treatments.
“The begonia species should be protected because we have yet to scratch the surface in terms of its potential [for medicinal and other use], although the plant is commonly known as a decorative plant,” said Wisnu.
Published : January 09, 2022
By : The Jakarta Post