All the new species of Annonaceae I have described to date come from Tanzania. I guess this isn’t a coincidence. Tanzania has a huge amount of diversity and a lot of it is still waiting to be described.
This week I received an email from Andy Marshall from the University of York [UK]. He wanted to have my opinion about a potential new Annonaceae species he collected in the Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania. He came across this species during field work funded by Flamingo Land [UK], as part of the Udzungwa Forest Project, in collaboration with the University of York [UK]. This project aims at determining the habitat requirements of a newly discovered kipunji monkey (a Critically Endangered animal, see photo below, a rare picture of this monkey!). Besides this new monkey, several other animals have been described there: four new birds, one elephant shrew, at least one new shrew, several new amphibians and a long-lost genet.
When I saw the photos (see photo to the left)) it reminded me of a similar collection of Polyceratocarpus I made in 2006 (see photo below) that I was unable to name at the time. Henry Ndangalasi (University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) was the first to draw David Johnson' (Ohio Wesleyan University, USA) attention to this undescribed species back in 2001. Subsequently, Quentin Luke (East African Herbarium, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya) also collected fertile material pointing out that it might be a new species. In the light of all these new collections, we all agreed that it was indeed a new species of the genus Polyceratocarpus. There is only one other described Polyceratocarpus species in Tanzania P. scheffleri, which is pretty different from this one. As for several other African Annonaceae genera, the center of the genus’ diversity is situated in West/Central Africa. However, with the discovery of new species in the Eastern Arcs this will change. There is already talk of a second new species of Polyceratocarpus, also collected by Andy!
Andy, Quentin, Henry, David and I will now try and get this species named and properly described.