In yet what is a milestone in the country’s conservation efforts, Bhutan has discovered new Begonia species.
The Begonia species, new to the world is discovered after thorough investigation of herbarium specimens by the team researchers from the College of Natural Resources.
The specimens were collected in 2020 and living plant observed at Menchuna, Toebpisa Gewog under Punakha by Phub Gyeltshen and his team Pema Zangmo, Sherab Jamtsho and Cheten La.
They also documented Begonia picta, Begonia rex, Begonia roxburghii and Begonia xanthina as new records to Bhutan. The team collected the specimens of some interesting Begonia taxa from June to December 2020 and 2021.
After a critical examination of the specimens and comparison with the protologues of released species described from the eastern Himalayan region, it was concluded that one species is new to science and four species are new records for Bhutan.
The new species is named as Begonia menchunaensis which is derived from the locality of Menchuna under Toebpisa Gewog, Punakha. It is currently known only from Punakha District and it is likely to be discovered from other districts of the country having similar habitats.
It has white flowers and grows in shady and partially open areas of cool broadleaved forest at around 2200 m elevation.
The genus Begonia is represented by 22 species in Bhutan, and the country is likely to harbour over 30 species of Begonia as many parts of the country are still under surveyed.
The discovery of such species is a clear indication that the country is rich in biodiversity and needs further exploration to have precise numbers of wild flora in the country.
As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categories and criteria, the species is critically endangered in the country.