Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria scientist names new rhododendron species

A botanist at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Dr Alastair Robinson, has described a beautiful new species of plant, Rhododendron astrophorum, a slender, canopy-growing epiphyte found only in the montane moss forests of a single mountain range on the island of Palawan (Philippines).

This plant was first documented in 2015 during an expedition led by Dr Robinson to the Victoria-Anepahan Mountain Range in central Palawan. A herbarium collection was subsequently made in June 2022 by Filipino botanists working with the Philippine Taxonomic Initiative and Palawan State University, finally allowing the team to name the plant in a new scientific paper, which is available online:

Rhododendron astrophorum demonstrates well the close biological affinities that exist between Palawan and Borneo, two islands that have been connected in the past by land bridges.

Recent findings highlight the importance of further biodiversity research across the island, as well as the urgent need for conservation actions that safeguard this biologically diverse area.


Source: Media release from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
Image: Rhododendron astrophorum: ‘astrophorum’ is derived from the Greek ἄστρον (ástron = star), and the suffix -φόρος (-phóros = bearing) and means ‘star bearer’, a reference to its bright yellow corollas, which fancifully resemble small clusters of stars in the forest canopy, photos Yu Pin Ang, Maverick Tamayo, Raab Bustamante, Alastair Robinson