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A time for His Majesty’s name to flourish

A newly discovered and unique aroid or keladi species that reaffirms the bio-geographical link between the peninsula and Borneo has been named after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.
The remarkable species that is endemic to Kelantan was named Alocasia farisii in honour of Sultan Muhammad V, whose birth name is Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra.
Universiti Malaysia Kelantan lecturer Zulhazman Hamzah, who discovered the unique plant, named it after Sultan Muhammad V in recognition of His Majesty’s great enthusiasm in conserving rare and endemic plant species in Kelantan.
“This is a very special plant. This is the first time we discovered its kind in the peninsula.
“This provides yet another indication of the close bio-geographical relationship that exists between plants in northeast Malay peninsula and Borneo,” he said in an interview.
Zulhazman found the new species in a limestone area in Gunung Stong in Kuala Krai in 2012, and officially published his findings in 2013.
Last year, Zulhazman, together with Norzielawati Salleh of Forest Research Institute Malaysia and renowned aroid expert Peter C. Boyce of Germany, sent his research finding to the Nordic Journal of Botany.
“Finally on April 26 this year, it was acknowledged as a new species as we have proven the morphology is different from any other recorded plant,” he added.
Zulhazman said it was not the first new species of plants he had discovered.
“I found two other keladi (aroid) species namely the Homalomena kualakohensis in Kuala Koh in 2011 and the Homalomena stongensis in Gunung Stong in 2012.
“The third new species that I found was named after His Majesty because it turned out to be a very special plant. It is not only pretty. It has ornamental value and most importantly, it helps shed light into the bio-geographical ties between the peninsula and Borneo,” he said.
Zulhazman spent two years exploring 60 locations in Kelantan for research. He is known as the local aroid (keladi) and rafflesia expert.
Alocasia farisii is so far found only in the karst limestone areas of Jentian in Tanah Merah, Gua Musang, and Gua Ikan-Gua Pagar in Kuala Krai – both in Kelantan.
“It grows as a lithophyte in soil and humus pockets on limestone outcrops and boulders, occasionally as terrestrial on seasonally dry lightly forested karst formations,” he said.
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