* Rare flower discovered in Aurora

Gestart door Kano, woensdag 9 oktober 2013, 01:11:21

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Rare flower discovered in Aurora

By Ric Sapnu and Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 9, 2013

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — A Rafflesia manillana, the world's largest flower, was found during a recent biological survey in the dense forests of the Sierra Madre mountains in Aurora.

"It was beautiful... the flower was in full bloom, with a diameter of 17 centimeters," said forester Max Millan Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Millan was with a team of biologists from the National Museum of the Philippines led by Edwin Tadiosa when they found an R. manillana bloom while surveying reptiles and amphibians in the Aurora Memorial National Park recently.

Found only in the Philippines, R. manillana is a genus of tropical parasitic plants that do not contain chlorophyll and therefore are incapable of photosynthesis.

R. manillana is critically endangered. It is on the DENR's list of threatened species, said Maximo Dichoso, executive director of DENR Region III.

"The presence of this flower only proves the rich biodiversity in Aurora's forests," Dichoso said, adding that the plant can also be found in Mt. Natib in Bataan, Mt. Makiling in Laguna, Mt. Labo in Bicol and in Samar Island Natural Park.

Scientists estimate that there are 17 Rafflesia species throughout Southeast Asia, including R. manillana.

The Philippine species, however, is smaller compared with R. arnoldii found in Indonesia, which can grow crowns up to a meter across, can reach 12 feet in height and weigh up to 11 kilos.

The Aurora Memorial National Park spans more than 5,000 hectares of mostly lowland dipterocarp forests in the Sierra Madre mountain range at the border of Nueva Ecija and Aurora.

Rising to 1,000 meters above sea level, the park is home to 19 species of amphibians, 30 species of reptiles and eight species of birds, including the endangered Philippine Eagle.

The park has been declared a protected area under Proclamation 744 of 1941 and was dedicated to the late first lady Aurora Aragon Quezon.

Earlier, a team of biologists and biodiversity experts from the University of the Philippines Diliman and the Diliman Science Research Foundation discovered two murrid rodents, the Rhycomys tapulao and Apomys brownorum, which can only be found in Mt. Tapulao in Zambales.

In 2011, two species of forest mice of the genus Apomys were also discovered in the Mingan Mountains in Aurora.

The biodiversity expedition found at least 304 species of plants and 142 species of animals thriving in the 17,000-hectare forests in Central Luzon's tallest mountain, including six other plant species that can only be found in Luzon.

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