New species of cerrado plant is discovered in private reserve in Goiás
A new plant species has been discovered in Legado Verdes do Cerrado, a 32 thousand hectare area belonging to Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio in Niquelândia, Goiás state, which forms a Private Sustainable Development Reserve (RPDS), with the mission of protecting biodiversity, developing activities of the new economy and contributing to scientific research.
Researchers compiling an inventory of the Reserve’s flora and vegetation, where approximately 80% of the area consists of native cerrado, presented a description of the new species Erythroxylum niquelandense in a tribute to the municipality of Niquelândia/GO, where the species was found. The plant is morphologically similar to others of the same genus popularly known as pimentinha-do-mato.
The new species was described and illustrated in a paper published by the researchers Marcos José da Silva and Maria Iracema Bezerra Loiola in January 2021, in the scientific journal Phytotaxa Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand. The document presented the biological classification, flowering and fruit-bearing seasons, geographical distribution and conservation status, in addition to images and a map of Erythroxylum niquelandense’s distribution.
According to researcher Marcos José da Silva, of the Biological Sciences Institute of Universidade Federal de Goiás (UFG), plants of this genus have properties highly used in medication to treat illnesses such as cancer and AIDS, which shows how important this discovery is to society. “Because of its appearance it is an easy recognizable genus. It has plane leaves and bears red fruit. This genus of plants is abundant in the Americas”, the researcher explained.
The species was collected for the first time in 2019 and two areas with higher populations of the plant were found in Legado Verdes do Cerrado. Marcos José states that it is most commonly found in dry forest and stood out because the genus is generally found in arboreal plants, while Erythroxylum niquelandense is a shrub.
Since then scientists have made a series of laboratory investigations, consulting specialist papers, seeking information about the botanical group the plant belongs to and carrying out laboratory analyses to determine the vegetative characteristics of the new species.
“In addition to its botanical importance, this discovery shows how little we know about the Cerrado biome. Legado Verdes do Cerrado, with its protected area, has exceptional wildlife and plant biodiversity, and our investigations could therefore unearth new species. Erythroxylum niquelandense could be the tip of the iceberg, and to find this wealth of species we need the support of research institutions and companies like CBA and Reservas Votorantim”, stressed researcher Marcos José da Silva.
About Legado Verdes do Cerrado
With approximately 80% of its area consisting of native cerrado, Legado Verdes do Cerrado is a 32-thousand hectare area owned by CBA – Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio, an investee of Votorantim S.A. Located some three hours from Brasilia, it consists of two centers: Three rivers spring in the Engenho center: Peixe, São Bento and Traíras, which provides the entire water supply for public consumption in Niquelândia/GO. This is home to Legado Verdes do Cerrado, 23 thousand hectares of land where scientific research, environmental education initiatives and new economy activities take place, including the production of plants and reforestation; while 5 thousand hectors are dedicated to farming, soy production and forestry activities. The 5-thousand-hectare Santo Antônio Serra Negra center contains virgin native Cerrado savannah vegetation and a part of the Lago da Serra lake.
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Information for the press:
Sirlene Milhomem (62) 98176-0297 [email protected]
Rosana Terra (62) 98207-5297 [email protected]