Palm species discovered in Palawan

Published November 15, 2020, 12:33 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

A species of palm endemic to Borneo was discovered in Palawan.

(Forest Foundation Philippines Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

A new paper published by botanists Edwino Fernando, Eugene Logatoc, Pastor Malabrigo Jr., and Jiro Adorador in the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology this month said the Pinanga lepidota was found in the lower slopes of Mount Mantalingahan in Palawan during a botanical survey conducted in January 2020.

“The habitat on Mount Mantalingahan in Palawan where Pinanga lepidota was discovered at 600 meters elevation in a dipterocarp forest with canopy of 20-25 meters and tree emergents to 35 meters tall. The species is rather uncommon in the area,” they said.

Pinanga lepidota was described as a “slender, clustering, pleonanthic, undergrowth palm, to 1.5 meters tall.”

According to the team of experts, “the discovery of Pinanga lepidota on Palawan is not completely unexpected as the island is, biogeographically, often considered part of the Sunda continental shelf (Sundaland) and may have had a mid-Pleistocene connection to Borneo.” 

The species is known from Borneo, particularly from Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei, and Kalimantan Timur, and now in the Philippines, specifically in Palawan. 

In Borneo, it has been recorded up to 1,500-meter elevation on various types of habitats, including hill dipterocarp, lower montane, ultramafic, and heath forests

The discovery of Pinanga lepidota becomes only the second species of Pinanga in Palawan, bringing to a total of 27 species for the whole Philippines.