Botanists from the UPLB Museum of Natural History have found a new species of Hoya in Polillo Island, Quezon and Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.

Hoyas, also known as wax plants are vines that behave like orchids; they grow on other plants and get their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain and even dust. These plants are prized for their unique, flat umbel inflorescence that emits a fragrant smell during dusk and dawn.

Professors Annalee S. Hadsall and Ivy Amor F. Lambio, Curators at the Botanical Herbarium of the Museum, along with staff Mary Ann O. Cajano and Michelle D. Alejado confirmed in an interview that they have found Hoya espaldoniana in Burdeos, Polillo Island in Quezon Province.

The new geographical record was recently published in the latest issue (Vol. 24, Issue 2) of the scientific journal Asia Life Sciences.

What's in a name? The Genus Hoya was named by Robert Brown after his friend Thomas Hoy (c.1750–1 May 1822), who served as a gardener, botanist and able cultivator to the Duke of Northumberland at Syon House in Middlesex in the United Kingdom for 40 years.

Hoya espaldoniana was first collected in March 2007 by Cajano in a limestone area in one of Puerto Galera's beaches and reared in-situ until the living collections flowered later that year.

H. espaldoniana's upside-down flowers are purplish-red. The species was earlier described by Dale Kloppenburg, Simeona Siar & Cajano in 2014.

Center of diversity

"Although the genus Hoya is common to Southeast Asia, China, New Guinea, Australia and some Pacific Islands, the Philippines is blessed with 115 species, 18 of which are endemic," the group reported.

"Only New Guinea compares to the Philippines in terms of the diversity of this genus," Hadsall said.

The Philippines is considered the center of diversity for Hoya with at least 74 species found in primary forests abound at all altitudes. --

This Hoya was named in honor of Dr. Ma. Victoria Ortega Espaldon, an environmental scientist and biogeographer at the University of the Philippines Los Banos who staunchly supported environmental education and conservation of Philippine biodiversity.

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