In June 2016 I went to the Monts de Cristal National Park in Gabon (as part of the AFRODYN project), basically to the same area where Hervé Sauquet and myself discovered Sirdavidia solannona back in 2012. I was walking around trying to find more individuals and populations of Sirdavidia and checking to see if it was flowering (which it was not...). After a while my Gabonese colleague, Raoul Niangadouma, and myself fell upon a medium sized tree with small flowers at the base. The species looked like an Uvariopsis, but it was "weird" looking. The flower buds were sessil and incredibly the crushed flowers and leaves emitted a strong scent of lemon. The leaves were very large for the genus too. To date, there has been no repports of lemon scent in Uvariopsis, and only a single species has sessile flowers (U. sessiliflora), and this was not that! The only other lemon scented species I know of in African Annonaceae is also from Gabon, and is Uvariodendron molundense var. citrata (Le Thomas 1969, Flore du Gabon).
At that point we knew we had a new species of Uvariopsis. It was hard to think that yet again in this same area we stumbled upon yet another new species of Annonaceae (just 100 m from the type locality of Sirdavidia), even though we were quite close to Kinguélé village and the main road! No sooner did we get back to our camp, we started to write up the article (see photo below). The idea was to show that we should not wait too much before describing and publishing new names. In our case it took less than two months between collection of the type and publication in PhytoKeys. Sure, we didn't spend all day in different herbaria going through all the material available, however, I was sure it was new and there were no names associated with this species yet. Do you agree?
The new species is called Uvariopsis citrata Couvreur & Niangadouma. The area where we collected these new species deserves an increased protection and more botanists should wander around there given its easy access and potential for new discoveries.
Link to the open access publication. We also published a new species of rattan, collected a few days later.
Amira successfully defended her Master I (Université de Montpellier II) project on Annonaceae floral evolution! In the top three of her class!
Subject in french: Evolution De Caractères Morphologiques Floraux Chez Les Annonaceae Juss. (Magnoliales)
I attended a field course in Oku (14-19 May), Western Cameroon, where I teached basic botany and field collection techniques to Cameroonian students. This was organized by Philippe Le Gall.
The European network of palm specialists, edition 16, held in Gran Canaria, las palmas, Canary islands, Spain. A full session was held on preliminary results of the RAPHIA project.
From the 22 till the 27 of March Roy Erkens (University of Maastricht) and myself went to collect Annonaceae in the Bayang Mbo Wildlife Reserve (Cameroon). We were mainly collecting populations of the 6 species concerned by the AFRODYN project, but took the time to observe Annonaceae and other incredible plants.
For our documentary on Raphia species of Cameroon (part of the RAPHIA project), my cousin, Foulques Couvreur (FLS Production), a professional mounter and "droner" came to Cameroon to shoot aerial videos of these spectacular palms. We filmed in the east (near Lomié) and in the north west, in Oku. This trip lasted 2 weeks, and the results were fantastic! Below some photos.
For two weeks, we travelled across Cameroon and filmed different aspects of Raphia use and importance. Raphia species are one of the most important plants in Cameroon. They are multipurpose species providing food, drink and shelter for millions of people. The documentary will show certain aspects of these important palms as well as the scientific research behind the project RAPHIA.
This trip took place at the strat of 2016 from the 9th till the 14th of January. We went to the remote Rumpi mountains in Western Cameroon, a long the Cameroonian Volcanic Chain. We spent just under week collecting is this wonderful but hard to access place in Cameroon. We collected samples for the AFRODYn project but also general collecting for conservation data.
Congratulations to Adama Faye! He brilliantly defended his PhD on the 11th of December in Montpellier.
We wish him all the best for his career! Don't hesitate to come and see us soon.
He undertook studies on the dynamics of central African rain forests, using palms as a model. Keepposted for his articles.
Thomas Couvreur, researcher in tropical biodiversity evolution