New Ylang Ylang species discovered by Chiang Mai researchers


A Chiang Mai University team of researchers has discovered a new species of Ylang Ylang, or Cananga odorata, at the Satun UNESCO Global Geopark. It has been named "Chalermprakiat" to commemorate His Majesty the King's 6th cycle birthday, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.

Ylang Ylang, a tropical tree, is native to the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Queensland, Australia. It is also found in parts of Thailand and Vietnam.

The scientific name for the new plant species is Orophea Chalermprakiat Damth., Chanthamrong, & Chaowasku. This important discovery was first published in the international academic journal, Phytotaxa, Volume 658 on July 5.

It was discovered growing in a sinkhole at Tham Talu Cave, Khao Khao subdistrict, Langu district in Satun province. This area is part of the Satun UNESCO Geopark, Thailand's first World Geopark, certified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation.

Assoc Prof Thanawat Chaowaku of the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, who led the project, said the "Chalermprakiat" tree is unique.

He described the tree's height as up to 8 metres tall. The petals are cream-coloured. The inner petals are joined together and then separated at the ends. The petals' base is slender. As a result, an opening is created between the petals, which makes the stamens and pistils easily visible.

Assoc Prof Thanawat Chaowaku

Meanwhile, he noted that this new species of plant is considered rare, with only 15-20 found. 

"All sectors must help preserve it so it does not become extinct," he said. 

The plant's beautiful bush shape allows it to be developed into an ornamental flowering plant. The researchers have proposed that the phytochemicals and biological activities of the "Chalermprakiat" tree be studied further in order to develop it into a medicinal plant.

The discovery was made as part of the "Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Ylang-Ylang Family Plants (Annonaceae) in Thailand that are rare and not yet known for conservation and sustainable use" research project, funded by the Office of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, Thailand Science Research and Innovation, and the Thailand Research Fund.

Aside from Chiang Mai university biologists, the project was a collaboration with specialists from Songkhla Rajabhat University, forestry specialists with special expertise under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, independent researchers and local communities. 

New Ylang Ylang species discovered by Chiang Mai researchers New Ylang Ylang species discovered by Chiang Mai researchers