Monday, August 1, 2016

Christisonia mira J.Mathew

Christisonia mira J.Mathew, Telopea 18: 425 (2015)

Description: Herbs, erect to 5–6 cm, achlorophyllous, parasitic on the roots of Strobilanthes luridus Wight., hairy. Roots very numerous, wiry, profusely branched, up to 1.5 mm thick, with haustoria at the place of contact with the host roots and developing many adventitious buds. Stem unbranched, with whorled, oblanceolate bracts. Inflorescence racemose, 8- or 9-flowered. Bracts 5 mm long, 2–3 mm wide, light brownish, glabrous. Pedicels 1 cm long, 3–5 mm thick, erect, pink. Bracteoles 2, elliptic to oblanceolate, 5 mm long, 3 mm wide. Flower buds glandular hairy, covered with copious translucent tasteless slime when young. Calyx 5, 1.2 cm long, 0.6–0.8 cm wide, base creamy white, lobs red, tubular-campanulate with slight median zygomorphy, tube split at the top to one third the length into 5 subequal triangular valvate lobes with acute apex. Corolla tube 3–3.5 cm long, red-coloured, trichomes on both sides, lower half closely appressed to the ovary, upper half inflated; throat yellowish with a tinge of orange; tube expanding into a sub-bilabiate 5-lobed limb; lobes 0.8–1 cm long, orbicular reniform, imbricate, anterior three lobes somewhat equal and slightly smaller than the posterior lobes. Stamens 4, inserted at the constricted part of the corolla tube, included, non didynamous; filaments light purplish, 2.5–3 cm long, glandular hairy throughout; anthers pale purplish, two-celled, one of the cells fertile, ovate, base sharply spurred with tip curved outwards; connective with a prominent swelling on one side. Pollen grains with smooth wall. Ovary of 2 median carpels, syncarpous, superior, unilocular with a tendency to become bilocular at the base; placentae 2, parietal, bipartite, tips expanding into fleshy portions; ovules 180– 200 μm long, 125–150 μm broad, numerous, anatropous and arising from the entire surface of the placenta;
style glabrous, 3–3.5 cm long, included but reaching above the level of the anthers; stigma peltate and with a narrow depression in the centre. Fruit a capsule, pyriform, ca 1.4 x 1.8 cm, unilocular, enclosed by persistent calyx. Seeds minute, numerous.

Etymology: The specific epithet ‘mira’ refers to the wonderful appearance of this new species.
Distribution and ecology: Christisonia mira is endemic to the Southern Western Ghats, currently known only from two localities from Vellakkaltheri in the Kollam district .The species grows on the wet roots of  Strobilanthes luridus Wight at altitudes of c. 1800 m. It is found in association with Ophiopogon intermedius D.Don (Asparagaceae) and Elatostema acuminatum (Poir.) Brongn. (Urticaceae).