New species of tree discovered in Mae Hong Son
Scientists puzzled by seeds being grilled in a Mae Hong Son village were astonished to find they came from a previously undiscovered species.
The new species of tree, dubbed “Sok Lueang”, was stumbled upon recently by Wittaya Pongamornkul and his team.
Wittaya and other botanists from the Botanical Garden Organisation and Chiang Mai University noticed Karen villagers grilling seeds that they did not recognise. After conducting a thorough examination, they realised the seeds came from a previously undocumented species.
Sok Lueang is a new species of plant in the Saraca genus of flowering trees, which belong to the Fabaceae family. The new tree has been given the Latin name “Saraca thailandica Pongamornkul, Panyadee & Inta” – or plant of Thailand. The full Thai name is “Sok Lueang Mae Moei”.
The discovery was recorded in the latest edition of the Thai Journal of Botany.
Sok Lueang is commonly found near water in dry evergreen forests at a height of 1,000-1,400 metres above sea level. Botanists believe it is probably spread over the hills that straddle the Mae Hong Son-Myanmar border. They also confirmed the seeds of the plant are edible.
Scientists said the discovery adds to the rich biodiversity found in Thailand, a global focus of preservation and research.