The genus Aspidistra is a bulbous plant with broad tapering leaves, native to Asia and often grown as a houseplant.
During a field survey of Lao PDR in December 2005, an unknown Aspidistra species was collected in the wild near Pakse City, Champasak Province. The plant was brought into cultivation in Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), Chinese Academy of Sciences.
It came to form flowers in November 2019, which attracted attention of researchers.
After consulting herbarium specimens and relevant literature, XTBG researchers identified it as a new species. They named it as Aspidistra purpureomaculata to refer to its purple-spotted flowers, peduncles and cataphylls. The new species was published in Taiwania.
Aspidistra purpureomaculata resembles Aspidistra xuansonensis in the shape of perianth tube and lobes and the shape of stigma, but can be distinguished by its leaf size, perianth tube color mainly purple and stamens position in the perianth tube.
The new species is also similar to Aspidistra laongamensis in the shape of perianth and the stamens in the middle of perianth tube but is distinguishable by perianth lobes 6, pale green or white inside (vs. usually 8, yellow), stigma 6-lobed (vs. usually 4-lobed).
Aspidistra purpureomaculata is currently known only from the type locality in Pakse City and found growing alongside a river at an elevation of about 300 m above sea level.
Department of Gardening and Horticulture, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
Aspidistra purpureomaculata comes to bloom. (Image by XI Houcheng)
The flowers of Aspidistra purpureomaculata. (Image by WANG Wenguang)
Aspidistra purpureomaculata (Image by WANG Wenguang)