A validation activity by the UPLB-Museum of Natural History team confirmed that the purple vine is the newly discovered S. juagonzalezii, a close family member of the Jade Vine. Masungi Georeserve is now the fourth area to confirm its occurrence after the species was discovered in 2015.
Strongylodon (Fabaceae) was described as a genus in 1836 by Julius Rudolph Theodor Vogel. Its name is derived from the Greek words “strongylos” meaning ‘round’ and “odontos” means ‘toothlike’, referring to the rounded teeth of the calyx.
There are 14 species of Strongylodon presently recognized in the world. Seven species can be found in the Philippines wherein six are endemic and one is indigenous.
With this new species, the Philippines now have eight endemic species of Strongylodon. The new species is remarkable for its plagiotropic dense inflorescence (flowers) made up of 27–31 flowers per cluster in a lateral branch. Flowers are lilac when young and gradually turn blue when mature.
It should be noted that the S. juagonzalezii is highly reminiscent of its cousin the Jade Vine, which is among the most admired flowers in the world. It took the Kew Gardens in London 20 years to reproduce the Jade Vine as it could only be pollinated by bats. The blooming of the Jade Vine in London is always a cause for celebration.
The new species is named after Dr. Juan Carlos Tecson Gonzalez, current UPLB-MNH director. In contrast to the samples recorded in Mulanay, Quezon, the samples recorded in Masungi were at least twice the size in terms of the inflorescence axis. As to why this is so is still subject to further study and observation.
Facts and information in this article are sourced from UPLB-MNH’s validation report in April 2017.