New Type of Nail Plant Found in the Inland of Papua – A new plant species was discovered in the Bintang Mountains, Papua. This discovery certainly adds to the new treasures of Indonesia as a country rich in botanical diversity. The plant is Deparia stellata, it is a new fern (pteridophyte) found from the hinterland of the forest of the Bintang Mountains, Papua New Guinea.

A researcher for Botany at the Biological Research Center of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Wita Wardani and his team succeeded in identifying this new type of pteridophyte plant based on specimens collected by W.R. Barker in the 1975 Star Mountains Expedition. The expedition was a collaborative botanical exploration journey between the Dutch Rijksherbarium and the Papua New Guinea national herbarium.

The discovery of Deparia stellate growing in the inland forest of the Bintang Mountains, Papua New Guinea is very important as a step to continue to obtain information on variations and inventory of ferns (pteridophytes), especially in the phytogeographic area of ​​Malesia. “The key to this discovery was the willingness of the Natural History Museum London (BM) herbarium to lend its specimens. I found this specimen during a visit to the herbarium to examine a pile of unidentified specimens in 2016.

At first, I identified the specimen as Deparia petersenii,” said Wita. Quoted from the journal Reinwardtia, Wita explained that at a glance the surface cover of the stalks and leaf rafters of this new type of leaf looks different. Sure enough, through high-magnification microscope observations at the Bogor Herbarium (BO), Wita finally confirmed the novelty of the species which was published in the journal Reinwardtia on December 6, 2021.

“After observations by means of a microscope, the characteristics of this new type are observed more clearly, both variations in shape, size and position with respect to other characteristics. The microscope also makes it easier for a line drawing expert, Wahyudi Santoso, to draw details of the species accurately. Furthermore, the completion of the drawing with quite a lot of detail is carried out through a fairly intensive process of discussion and joint observation,” said Wita.

Previously, reddish-dark stellate hairs covering rickets and costa (leaf bones) were never found in Deparia species. Similarly, it has scales with irregular hair edges. This feature is unusual for this clan. However, similar stellar hairs were also observed in Diplazium stellatopillosum, a species from a different genus but still from the same tribe which was also found in Papua New Guinea,” added Wita. “Distinguishing Deparia and Diplazium is quite easy.

The difference can be seen from the discontinuous ditches on the ribs in Deparia, but the opposite in Diplazium. The star hair character is supposed to be a characteristic feature of the Papuan mainland, especially in the eastern part, but a more thorough study needs to be done to confirm it, “added Wita. Not only that, she also added that, apart from the help of a microscope, this finding was helped by the availability of online specimen pictures from large herbariums.

It is Including a type of specimens at the JSTOR Global Plant with high resolution photo viewer facilities. The photos make it easy for anyone to confirm the existence of the names involved in the examination. However, for observing microscopic characters, high-resolution photos are still not enough. The description of new species requires precision which always involves direct examination of the specimen.

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